Wednesday, September 22 Nine Circles of Hell!


The Nine Circles of Hell! – all the news that gives you fits in print – for Wednesday, September 22, 2010, including four bonus stories on the shooting of a Palestinian by a settlement’s private security guard, are:

Settlement rent-a-cop killing of Palestinian sparks clashes

UN finds “clear evidence to support prosecutions” in Gaza flotilla raid

Protests across Egypt against Mubarak’s possible successor: his son

New allegations arise as UK torture inquiry gathers steam

Iranian parade bombing suspects include US, Israel, Kurds, al Qaeda

Iran suspends woman’s stoning sentence, condemns US for execution

Police arrest activists marching on Zimbabwe parliament

Are human caused factors the “tipping point” in “extensive fish kill”?

KFC paying college girls to wear ads on asses

Settlement rent-a-cop killing of Palestinian sparks clashes

Jerusalem flare-up after Israeli kills Palestinian

An Israeli security guard killed a Palestinian in an Arab neighborhood of Jerusalem on Wednesday, triggering clashes between police and rioters, including in the compound of the al-Aqsa mosque.

Police said they entered the plaza to push back Palestinians who had thrown rocks at the nearby Jewish prayer site the Western Wall.

The Palestinians withdrew into the mosque, Islam’s third-holiest shrine, and there were no immediate reports of casualties or further confrontations, a spokesman said.

Palestinian officials said the killing of a 32-year-old resident of East Jerusalem and subsequent police response had undermined nascent U.S.-sponsored peace negotiations.

Israeli authorities said the guard, who provided government-funded protection for a small Jewish settlement in the Silwan district, opened fire on dozens of Palestinians who had blocked and stoned his car before dawn.

“It was his life or theirs,” said Ariel Rosenberg, spokesman for Israel’s Construction and Housing Ministry.

Silwan residents took to the streets after the incident, overturning two cars, torching two others and throwing rocks at police and passersby. Police said they responded with teargas, water cannon and stun grenades.

At least seven Israeli civilians and a policeman were hurt in the clashes, police said. Silwan residents said two Palestinians were wounded in the initial shooting and more in later confrontations, but exact figures were not available.

Hundreds of mourners attended the funeral of the dead man, who had 5 children, and confrontations spread to the nearby Old City, where the al-Aqsa mosque abuts the Western Wall.

  • In the Haaretz article, “Riots in Temple Mount, Western Wall area after Palestinian shot dead by Israeli guard,” its reported that the security guard was not following proper guidelines at the time of the shooting:
    The security guard told police that he was driving through the town alone and stopped at a gas station, despite the guidelines which forbade him from stopping in the local stations. The guard added that he feared that he would be abducted after several Palestinians blocked his car.
  • In the Associated Press story, “Violence in east Jerusalem clouds peace efforts,” the idea of a 4 AM stone-throwing by Palestinians is questioned, a laundry list of violence is offered, and its reported that an Israeli civil rights group had already given warnings about the settlement’s security contractors:
    Clashes erupted in the Silwan neighborhood shortly after a 32-year-old Palestinian man was killed by a private Israeli security guard watching over Jewish families in the area. About 70 ultranationalist Jewish families live in Silwan, amid some 50,000 Palestinian residents.
    Israeli police said the man, Samir Sirhan, had a criminal record and was shot overnight after a group of youths pelted the guard with stones. But residents said that Sirhan, a father of five young children, was unlikely to have participated in the violence. They also noted he was killed at about 4 a.m., an unlikely time for stone throwing …
    In other unrest, Palestinian youths overturned three cars with passengers inside, in one case dragging a man out of his vehicle and stabbing him. They smashed the windows of five buses, forcing passengers on one of them to flee, and a paramilitary police jeep was set on fire and destroyed.
    Ten Israelis were wounded, including the stabbing victim who was seriously hurt, police said. Palestinian medics said 14 people were lightly hurt. By early evening, sporadic riots were still taking place.
    The Association for Civil Rights in Israel, an Israeli advocacy group, recently wrote in a report that Israeli security firms act like a private police force for Silwan’s Jewish residents. It said the firms often receive government funding and frequently use threats and violence against Arab residents, while police are reluctant to intervene.
  • The Guardian article, “Israeli security guard shoots dead Palestinian man,” again questions the security guard’s story and reports how community leaders also had expressed their concern about the private contractors:
    Israeli police say the guard fired shots in the air after his car was blocked and stoned by dozens of Palestinians. However, residents say that the two Palestinian men were taxi drivers on their way to or from work when they were shot by the guard.
    Community leaders say that they had warned police of the dangers of allowing armed, private security contractors to patrol the streets of Silwan on behalf of Jewish settlers. Police are questioning the guard while a postmortem is carried out on Samer Sirhan, a 32-year-old father of five.
  • Meanwhile, The Daily Mail reports, “Israel and Palestine should unite for tourism plan, says Tony Blair”:
    Tony Blair has called for one of most daring tourism campaigns imaginable – a joint marketing campaign by Israel and the Palestinians to promote the West Bank as a tourist destination.
    In a speech at Conde Nast Traveller magazine’s World Savers Congress, the former prime minister said that the West Bank is ripe for a ‘major joint marketing campaign’ with Israel to promote tourism to the Holy Land.
    Blair, who currently serves as a special envoy for the Middle East, highlighted his belief that the peace process ‘is at a crucial juncture’ and that tourism represents a ‘huge economic opportunity for the Palestinian people as well as a huge support to the peace process’.

UN finds “clear evidence to support prosecutions” in Gaza flotilla raid
Agence France Presse

Evidence against Israel in Gaza aid probe: UN

A U.N. probe said Wednesday there was “clear evidence to support prosecutions” against Israel for “willful killing” and torture committed when its troops stormed a Gaza-bound aid flotilla in May.

In a scathing report, it also threw out Israel’s argument that activists on the aid ship were violent thereby justifying the decision by Israeli soldiers to open fire, adding that some were the victim of actions “consistent with…summary execution.”

The inquiry ordered by the U.N. Human Rights Council said Israel’s military used “unnecessary violence” in the incident and committed acts that “constituted grave violations of human rights law and international humanitarian law.”

There was “clear evidence to support prosecutions” of crimes against international humanitarian law including “willful killing; torture or inhuman treatment; and willfully causing great suffering or serious injury to body or health,” it said.

Protests across Egypt against Mubarak’s possible successor: his son
The Associated Press

Egyptian police crack down on anti-Mubarak protest

Egyptian police on Tuesday beat and arrested anti-government activists demonstrating against the possibility of the president’s son succeeding his father as leader of the country.

Some 300 protesters chanted anti-government slogans, waved flags and even burned pictures of the president’s son as hundreds of black clad riot police surrounded them in tight cordons opposite the former royal palace in downtown Cairo.

Many others were prevented from even reaching the wide square by police.

Shoving matches broke out between protesters and security forces and some activists were detained in nearby police vans. At least one woman was grabbed and beaten by female police officers.

Police also confiscated videotapes from BBC and Al-Jazeera cameramen at the protest, according to the station reporters.

A security official, speaking on condition of anonymity because he was not allowed to speak to the press, said 60 activists were detained and kept in police vans during the protests.

Representatives from one youth movement also said at least 30 of its members were arrested just trying to reach the site of the demonstration.

A companion demonstration also took place in Egypt’s second city of Alexandria on the Mediterranean Sea where 25 people were detained, another security official said.

The rallies were protesting widely rumored plans for 82-year-old President Hosni Mubarak to be succeeded by his son Gamal, 46, who is currently a high-ranking member of the ruling party.

The protests come about two months before parliamentary elections and a year before presidential elections. Mubarak has not yet announced if he will run for another term and extend his nearly 30-year reign.

Analysts say under recent constitutional amendments, it is only possible for Gamal Mubarak or an ruling-party candidate to meet the conditions to run in presidential elections.

Egypt’s first multi-candidate elections were held in 2005, and Mubarak won more than 88 percent of the vote. Father and son deny any such succession plans exist …

“Most parties are here because we have reached a dead end, there is no other method or way that will work except civil disobedience or popular revolt, anything else is nonsense,” said Ahmed el-Kordi, 23, who attended the rally …

Conspicuously absent were members of the Muslim Brotherhood, the country’s largest opposition movement, with nearly a fifth of the seats in the outgoing parliament. Hundreds of members of the Islamist group languish in jail after periodic government crackdowns.

New allegations arise as UK torture inquiry gathers steam

MI6 consulted David Miliband on interrogations

David Miliband gave MI6 the green light to proceed with intelligence-gathering operations in countries where there was a possible risk of terrorism suspects being tortured, the Guardian has learned.

During the three years Miliband served as foreign secretary, MI6 always consulted him personally before embarking on what a source described as “any particularly difficult” attempts to gain information from a detainee held by a country with a poor human rights record.

While Miliband blocked some operations, he is known to have given permission for others to proceed. Officers from MI5 are understood to have sought similar permission from a series of home secretaries in recent years.

Today, 24 hours before the Labour leadership election closed, Miliband took the unprecedented step of returning to the Foreign Office to study files relating to three British citizens who were tortured in Bangladesh and Egypt while he was foreign secretary. After spending almost two hours examining the papers, he issued a statement in which he said the documents contained no evidence that UK ministers were asked to grant permission for any of the men to be detained, and said that it would be wrong to suggest that he had ever sanctioned torture. The statement does not address the possibility that intelligence extracted under torture was later received by the UK authorities.

Miliband’s spokeswoman said: “David would never ever sanction torture and it is completely wrong to suggest, imply, or leave a shadow of a doubt otherwise.”

It is understood that the files do document allegations of mistreatment made by the detainees, however. These are contained in papers detailing the Foreign Office’s efforts to seek consular access to the prisoners. The papers do not rule out the possibility that MI5 was involved in any of the cases as its activities would have to be approved by the Home Office, rather than the foreign secretary.

The confirmation that there was close ministerial supervision of counter-terrorism operations conducted in partnership with countries with poor human rights records comes as a judge, Sir Peter Gibson, appointed by David Cameron, prepares to mount an inquiry into the UK’s role in torture and rendition since 2001.

Iranian parade bombing suspects include US, Israel, Kurds, al Qaeda
The Los Angeles Times

Bombing at parade in Iran kills 12, including a child

A bombing Wednesday at a martial parade in western Iran killed at least 12 people, including a 5-year-old child and the wives of two Iranian military commanders. The explosion struck amid a large crowd attending the event, which was intended to underscore the nation’s battle readiness.

Another 75 people were injured, at least 12 seriously, in what officials described as a “terrorist attack.” No one immediately claimed responsibility for the bombing, which occurred in the restive ethnic Kurdish city of Mahabad.

But Iranian officials quickly pointed the finger at the United States, and the local Friday prayer leader blamed “Zionists” …

According to Iranian media, the bomb struck pedestrians gathered along a Mahabad sidewalk to watch an annual Sacred Defense Week military parade commemorating the victims of the 1980-88 Iran- Iraq war …

Mahabad lies in Iran’s restless Kurdish heartland and carries enormous symbolic weight for ethnic Kurds throughout the world. It was the capital of a short-lived Kurdish autonomous republic set up in 1946 and the birthplace of Massoud Barzani, the de facto leader of Iraq’s semi-autonomous Kurdistan region.

The Kurdish separatist militant group PEJAK, Party for the Free Life of Kurdistan, operates in the area and has clashed with Iranian troops in recent years. Iran has often accused the U.S. of supporting PEJAK, the Iranian branch of the Kurdistan Workers Party (PKK), which has been fighting the Turkish government for decades.

Kurds are believed to be the world’s largest ethnic group without a homeland. They have been fighting for autonomy and cultural rights against governments of Iran, Iraq, Turkey and Syria for decades.

But a nearby mountainous stretch along the Iran-Iraq border also has sheltered Al Qaeda-linked Sunni Muslim extremist groups, such as Ansar al-Islam.

Iran suspends woman’s stoning sentence, condemns US for execution

Iran accuses US of double standards over woman’s execution

Iran accused the US of human rights violations today over plans by the state of Virginia to execute a woman for the first time in nearly 100 years, despite claims that she has severe learning difficulties.

Iran’s state-sponsored media has devoted considerable coverage to reports about Teresa Lewis, who is scheduled to die by lethal injection on Thursday for arranging the murder of her husband and stepson in 2002.

The parliamentary human rights committee said her case reflected “the double standards” of the American government, comparing her case to that of Sakineh Mohammadi Ashtiani, a 43-year-old Iranian woman sentenced to death by stoning for adultery.

“We will file an official complaint to the international community against the US if the sentence is administered,” Hossein Naghavi, an Iranian MP and the spokesman for the committee, told the semi-official Fars news agency. Several Iranian MPs have expressed concerns over Lewis’s execution and have asked the US for her sentence to be commuted.

America was one of the several countries to express outrage over Ashtiani’s case, which has embarrassed the Iranian government after receiving considerable international attention. Iran has since suspended the stoning sentence, although Ashtiani is still being held in jail and her family fear for her life.

Police arrest activists marching on Zimbabwe parliament
Agence France Presse

Zimbabwe arrests 83 women protesters: lawyer

Police in Zimbabwe have arrested 83 women activists who marched on the parliament in the capital Harare without authorisation, a lawyer said Tuesday.

The members of Women of Zimbabwe Arise (WOZA) were arrested on Monday after marching to highlight concerns around community safety and police behaviour.

“Police have arrested 83 women from WOZA and no charges have been laid against them as yet,” lawyer Belinda Chinowawa said.

“Initially, police arrested 25 women and the other 58 handed themselves to the police in solidarity with their colleagues.”

The activists could appear in court today if the police decided on what charges they should face, she said.

Amnesty International has appealed to the authorities to release the women activists.

“These arbitrary arrests and unlawful detentions are clearly aimed at restricting the rights to freedom of expression and assembly,” said Michelle Kagari, deputy director of Amnesty International?s Africa Programme said in a statement.

“Those detained must be released immediately and unconditionally or otherwise charged with a recognisable crime.”

Are human caused factors the “tipping point” in “extensive fish kill”?
Kitsap Sun

Latest Hood Canal Fish Kill Called ‘Extensive,’ but Not ‘Massive’

The massive fish kill that many researchers warned about Monday has not fully materialized, but many hundreds of dead fish and thousands of shrimp washed up on Hood Canal beaches Tuesday, officials said.

“We have hypoxic (low oxygen) conditions all the way to the surface,” Jan Newton, an oceanographer who heads the Hood Canal Dissolved Oxygen Program said shortly before noon Tuesday. “There is less than 1 milligram per liter (oxygen) at Hoodsport, and lots of residents are reporting dead fish on the beaches.”

Those levels are highly stressful for most marine creatures and lethal for some.

Surface mixing of the waters improved the conditions slightly later in the day, but only at the surface, according to monitoring buoys at Hoodsport and Twanoh.

Wayne Palsson, a biologist with the Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife, stayed overnight at Hoodsport, where he awoke on Tuesday to a freakish sight: Thousands of dead spot prawns had washed up on the beach and many thousands more were struggling to survive in 6 inches of water along the shoreline, he said.

Ron Figlar-Barnes, a biologist with the Skokomish Tribe, walked the beaches in the Hoodsport and Potlatch areas, finding hundreds of dead fish scattered throughout that area at low tide. Seagulls were having a feeding frenzy.

Seeking oxygen, shrimp were swimming into the fresh water that passes through lower Cushman Dam and into Hood Canal at Potlatch, Figlar-Barnes said. Many were dying there because they could not survive in the fresh water.

Because the number of dead fish has not yet reached levels of “thousands and thousands” seen in 2003 and 2006, Palsson said he is calling Tuesday’s observations an “extensive fish kill geographically” but not yet the “massive” fish kills seen in previous years.

Things could grow worse, however, according to Newton. The annual “intrusion” of oxygenated water from the Pacific Ocean is beginning to push into Hood Canal. That salty seawater is denser than the seawater in Hood Canal and tends to come in at the bottom. That pushes low-oxygen waters up to the surface, where untold numbers of fish are now struggling to survive …

David Dicks, executive director of the partnership, noted that researchers have shown how human sources of nitrogen can tip the balance toward low-oxygen conditions.

“There are natural reasons for low-oxygen levels in marine waters resulting in fish kills, including seasonal changes,” he said. “Although we don’t fully understand all the reasons for low oxygen levels, there is no doubt that some human activities contribute to the disaster. We know that pollution from septic systems and stormwater can certainly make the situation worse. If human caused factors are the tipping point, we must correct them” …

David Dicks, executive director of the partnership, noted that researchers have shown how human sources of nitrogen can tip the balance toward low-oxygen conditions.

“There are natural reasons for low-oxygen levels in marine waters resulting in fish kills, including seasonal changes,” he said. “Although we don’t fully understand all the reasons for low oxygen levels, there is no doubt that some human activities contribute to the disaster. We know that pollution from septic systems and stormwater can certainly make the situation worse. If human caused factors are the tipping point, we must correct them.”

KFC paying college girls to wear ads on asses

KFC pays college women for ad space on buns

KFC wants folks to watch its backside.

Or, more precisely, the backsides of female college students it’s recruiting to promote its hot new bunless Double Down sandwiches.

Women on college campuses are being paid $500 each to hand out coupons while wearing fitted sweatpants with “Double Down” in large letters across their rear ends.

The promo comes as KFC is in the doldrums domestically. The world’s largest chicken chain’s U.S. same-store sales fell 7% in the second quarter. Nearly all its growth now is in international expansion.

Last week, the chain confessed that more than six in 10 Americans ages 18 to 25 — the chain’s key demographic — couldn’t identify who Colonel Sanders was in the KFC logo.

Now, it’s turning to cute women parading around campus with “Double Down” emblazoned across their fannies.

The nation’s largest women’s group doesn’t like it one bit. “It’s so obnoxious to once again be using women’s bodies to sell fundamentally unhealthy products,” says Terry O’Neill, president of the National Organization for Women. What’s more, she says, KFC has forgotten something important: Women make more than half the decisions about what to eat for dinner.

But KFC marketing chief John Cywinski says it’s an effective way to catch the attention of young men — KFC’s key customers and the biggest fans of Double Down …

The stunt hasn’t reached Colorado State University — and senior public relations major Candace Carlucci hopes it never does. “It may be funny, but it’s also inappropriate and degrading,” she says. “There must be another way for KFC to get its message out.”

Brand guru Jonathan Salem Baskin says there’s nothing “inherently wrong” with using women to attract guys, but in this case, “It’s irrelevant to the product.” KFC would do better, he says, to follow the McDonald’s model: “Clean up your stores, fix the menu and please people with the food you make.”