Internal NRA Memos Reveal Hidden Payments to Enrich Top Executives

According to interviews and to documents that I obtained — federal tax forms, charity records, contracts, corporate filings, and internal communications — a small group of NRA executives, contractors, and vendors has extracted hundreds of millions of dollars from the nonprofit’s budget, through gratuitous payments, sweetheart deals, and opaque financial arrangements. Memos created by a senior NRA employee describe a workplace distinguished by secrecy, self-dealing, and greed, whose leaders have encouraged disastrous business ventures and questionable partnerships, and have marginalized those who object. “Management has subordinated its judgment to the vendors,” the documents allege. “Trust in the top has eroded.”

Source: Internal NRA Memos Reveal Hidden Payments to Enrich Top Executives

On Prisoner’s Day: Over 5,000 Palestinians in Israeli jails

 PHROC- PNGO/ Ramallah/

Palestinian prisoners at the prisons of the Occupation called off their open hunger strike, which had lasted for eight days, as they made victory by getting their basic rights, after a series of systematic violations that they are subjected to. The violations had aimed to place the Palestinian prisoners under more constraints in detention especially after the publication of the recommendations of the committee that was formed by the Occupation’s Minister of Internal Security.

On the anniversary of the Palestinian Prisoner’s Day, statistics of ADDAMEER Prisoner Support and Human Rights Association tell us that at the end of March 2019, the number of Palestinian male and female prisoners at the prisons of the Occupation was 5,450 including 497 administrative detainees, 49 female prisoners, 7 members of the parliament – Palestinian Legislative Council –, 205 children prisoners (including 32 less than 16 years of age). According to DCI-P the Occupation forces have arrested 10,000 Palestinian children since 2000. They were tried before military courts that lacked the basis of fair trial rights. Detained Palestinian children are subject to torture and inhumane treatment while at custody or during interrogations. This violates all international norms and conventions related to children. Children prisoners are locked up at separate sections at Ofer Prison, Majeddo Prison, and Damon Prison. A number of children prisoners have recently been transferred to Damon Prison, which lack basichuman living conditions.

Many male and female prisoners at the Occupation prisons suffer from medical negligence, which exacerbates their health conditions. According to Hurryyat – Center for Defense of Liberties and Civil Rights the number of sick prisoners at occupation prisons is more than 750, including 350 with chronic diseases, 7 have cancer, 8 have tumors, 23 have eye diseases, 30 have heart diseases, 24 have hypertension and diabetes, 5 have cardiovascular diseases, 11 with disability, 37 have osteopathy, 12 have kidney diseases, 28 have internal medicinal diseases, 23 have psychological and mental diseases, 18 have breathing difficulties, and 61 have bullet wounds.

Recommendations of Occupation’s Internal Security Minister Committee “Erdan’s Committee”

The Occupation’s Internal Security Minister, Gilad Erdan, formed a special committee in June 2018 which includes Knesset members and the intelligence agency. The purpose of the committee was to assess the conditions of detention of Palestinian prisoners at Occupation prisons and identify means of reducing such conditions to the minimum stage. The committee reviewed the conditions of Palestinian prisoners and paid visits to prisons. Then the committee recommended to impose more restrictions on prisoners at Occupation prisons. Hence, the Occupation authorities started systematic attacks on prisoners, which were justified by the recommendations of the committee.

Female Palestinian Prisoners were the First to be hit by the Punitive Measures

Cameras were switched back on at Hasharon Prison – the cameras were switched off for many years following an agreement between female prisoners and the prison administration in 2011. Naturally, Palestinian female prisoners refused the switching of the cameras back on and refused to go on their recreational time for two months. This was part of the punitive measures that followed the Committee’s recommendations – Erdan’s Committee actually visited Hasharon Prison where Palestinian female prisoners are detained.

Female prisoners also sent a letter in which they wrote that all recreational areas are covered by cameras; hence, they would not go to such areas and switching the cameras back on restricted the prisoners’ privacy. On September 20, 2018, the Occupation’s intelligence proposed switching off cameras for two and a half hours so that female prisoners can have their recreational time. Prisoners refused since the time was insufficient. Consequently, the prisoners were threatened to be transferred to Damon Prison because they refused the Occupation intelligence offer of switching cameras off for two and a half hours. The offer of switching the cameras off for two and a half hours was withdrawn. Prisoners’ protests against operating the cameras went on for two months. As a result, they were all transferred to Damon Prison, which lacks the minimumhumanlife conditions. That happened in the first week of November 2018.

Special Units Raid Prisons and Oppress Prisoners

The prisons administration launched provocative and sudden inspection campaigns at several prisons. This was part of the decision to impose more restrictions on prisoners. This was applying by mainly breaking into prisons by special units especially at Ofer Prison, Naqab Prison, and Rimon Prison. This included attacks on prisoners at Ofer and beating them with sticks, legs, and arms. Military dogs were also used in the raids against prisons, as well as rubber bullets, teargas, and stun grenades. Prison cells were damaged in many sections and prisoners’ belongings were ransacked. This was followed by tension at Naqab Prison and Rimon Prison ensued by the installation of cell jammer devices that affected some sections at Naqab and Rimon prisons and prisoners’ use of cellular phones, radio, and television. This deprived prisoners of the only means available to communicate with the world outside prison. The oppression led to injuring several prisoners and some ended up hospitalized. Until this moment, Palestinian prisoners still suffer from their wounds since they did not get the necessary treatment and suffer intentional medical negligence from the occupation authority. The recent breaking into prisons also led to taking several punitive measures against prisoners such as transfer from one prison to another, solitary confinement of some prisoners, banning prisoners from meeting their lawyers, ban on family visits, and imposing big fines on them.

Battle of Karameh 2: Prisoners’ Legitimate Step against Restriction

Prisoners went on open hunger strike, so that their legitimate demands could be met. The strike was launched after negotiations about living conditions in prisons between prisoners’ representatives and prison administration failed. This occurred especially when more restrictions were imposed on prisoners. Prisoners wanted to return to the situation that preceded the implementation of Erdan Committee’s recommendations. Prisoners also submitted several demands to end their hunger strike, including:

  • Cancelation of Erdan Committee’s recommendationsincluding imposing more restrictions on prisoners especially with respect to food, cantina, prison recreational time, books, and education. Prisoners said that food rations were reduced after Erdan Committee’s recommendations were implemented as well as restrictions on education and availability of books. Many educational books were confiscated from a number of prisons and all textbooks were later banned. This meant that prisoners’ families could not bring books to their detained sons and daughters.
  • Removal of all cell jamming devices that the prison administration had installed at Rimon and Naqab prisons.
  • Install public phones at prisons’ sections to ensure prisoners’ natural right is guaranteed by international conventions and treaties to be able to communicate with their families and the outside world.
  • Cancel the ban of visits to hundreds of prisoners and end collective punishments imposed by prison managements since 2014[1].
  • End punitive measures recently imposed by Prison Authority especially those imposed in the aftermath of the campaigns of raids and oppression against prisoners at Naqab, Ofer, and Rimon prisons, and the return of prisoners to the sections they were transferred from.
  • Ensure humanitarian conditions at the Mi’bar[2]and improve means of transportation of prisoners, especially sick prisoners.
  • Transfer Palestinian female prisoners to a different prison where humanitarian conditions are available. There are 49 female prisoners and they are all imprisoned at Damon Prison, which lacks even the minimal life conditions. Damon Prison was previously a tobacco warehouse and a stable for horses. Hence, the structure of the prison was originally designed to be humid inside; it was never meant to accommodate human beings.
  • Enhance prison conditions of children prisoners
  • End medical negligence policy and ensure treatment for the sick prisoners and those who were wounded during recent attacks on prisoners.
  • End solitary confinement policy: Prison administration places Palestinian prisoners in solitary confinement for security or psychological reasons or as punitive measures for disciplinary violations at prison. A prisoner is placed in a cell where the only possession allowed in is clothes. There is also a mattress and blanket. Solitary confinement can be based on a court order since the law allows the military courts to sentence prisoners to 6 months in solitary confinement. The courts may also sentence a prisoner to 12 months in a cell with another prisoner. The courts can extend the solitary confinement for additional periods and for indefinite periods.

Actually, to officers of the Israeli Prison Authority use solitary confinement policy against Palestinian prisoners; especially the leaders, as punitive measure to destabilize them and to deprive them of the right to communicate with the world outside prison and with their families. The officers of the Israeli Prison Authority also use solitary confinement against prisoners to subdue them and to weaken their capacity to organize, divide them, and incapacitate their ability to organize their fight for the rights that are guaranteed for the prisoners of war and freedom fighters in Third Geneva Convention and the Fourth Geneva Convention and other human rights conventions.

Administrative Detention: Detention without Charges or Trial

The arbitrary Occupation policy against Palestinian prisoners does not stop at detention conditions. It also affects administrative detainees who are placed in detention arbitrarily, which violates international conventions and treaties. The Occupation forces use administrative detention systematically and illegally. Palestinians are detained without charges or trial on the basis of a secret file or evidence that the prisoners or the prisoners’ lawyer have no access to. According to Israeli military orders, administrative detention can be renewed indefinitely; however, each administrative detention order is a maximum of six months that can be renewed. There are six Palestinian prisoners who are on an open hunger strike in protest against administrative detention policy. They demand an end to their administrative detention. They are Hasan Ewiwi, Husam al-Ruza (al-Ruza started a hunger strike on March 20, 2019) and currently detained at Eshel Prison. Khaled Faraj and Mohammad Tabanja are two administrative detainees who started an open hunger strike on March 26, 2019; they are in solitary confinement at Naqab Prison. Dahood Odwan started a hunger strike on March 1, 2019 and Oda al-H’roob has been on hunger strike since April 2, 2019.

Occupation authority bans the prisoners who are on hunger strike from any communication with the world outside prison and imposes restrictions on the visits of their lawyers. Hence, the Occupation authority pays no attention whatsoever to their basic right to meet and consult with a lawyer, which is guaranteed by international conventions and agreements.

The Fourth Geneva Convention and other international standards of fair trial procedures stress banning the use of administrative detention as an alternative to trial. This confirms that administrative detention, as used by the Occupation, is arbitrary detention and inconsistent with international laws and norms.

[1]Increasingrestrictions on Palestinian prisoners has occurred frequently including in 2014 when three Israeli settlers disappeared in the West Bank and during the recent war on Gaza. Many of the prisoners’ rights were restricted such as banning family visits to a number of prisoners or making such visits intermittent or irregular. Gaza prisoners face increasing restrictions on visits by their families making such visits bimonthly rather than monthly. The number of satellite channels prisoners could watch in prison was reduced to 3 out of 10. The prison yard walk time was reduced to two hours per day and shopping at the cantina limit was reduced from NIS 1,200 to a maximum of NIS 800.

[2]This is the prison where Palestinian prisoners are held while being transferred from one prison to another.

Trump’s Veto Will Trigger More US Arms to Kill Civilians in Yemen

An estimated 788 civilian casualties were reported nationwide since 18 December last year. The majority of them, 318 people, were killed by shelling. Across Yemen, a total of 1,631 houses, 385 farms, 47 local businesses and 13 schools were attacked in the same period.

Yemen home for the world’s worst humanitarian crisis.

By Thalif Deen
UNITED NATIONS, Apr 18 2019 (IPS)

President Donald Trump’s decision to veto a bi-partisan Congressional resolution to end US military involvement in a devastating Saudi-led four-year conflict in Yemen– is expected to escalate the ongoing war in the trouble-plagued region.

The weapons used by the Saudis in the reckless bombing of mostly civilian targets, including schools and hospitals, are largely from the United States: F-15 fighter planes, Bell helicopters, drones, air-to-surface missiles, M60 battle tanks, laser-guided bombs and heavy artillery.

Trump’s veto on April 16 is expected to ensure the uninterrupted flow of American-made weapons into a war zone described by the United Nations as the “world’s worst humanitarian disaster”.

In its latest report released last month, the Stockholm International Peace Research Institute (SIPRI) said arms imports by Middle Eastern countries increased by 87 per cent between 2009–13 and 2014–18 and accounted for 35 per cent of global arms imports in 2014–18.

Saudi Arabia became the world’s largest arms importer in 2014–18, with an increase of 192 per cent compared with 2009–13.

Currently, the US is one of the largest arms suppliers to Saudi Arabia.

Citing conservative UN estimates, Ole Solvang, Policy Director at the Norwegian Refugee Council (NRC), told IPS some 17,700 civilians have been killed in the fighting since 2015.

An estimated 2,310 people have died from cholera according to the World Health Organisation (WHO), and 85,000 children under the age of five have died from starvation.

Solvang said more bombs and weapons in Yemen will only mean more suffering and death.

“By providing such extensive military and diplomatic support for one side of the conflict, the United States is deepening and prolonging a crisis that has immediate and severe consequences for Yemen— and civilians are paying the price,” he noted.

David Miliband, president of the International Rescue Committee, described Trump’s veto as “morally and strategically wrong-headed.”

This was Trump’s second veto, the first being the rejection of a bipartisan Congressional resolution aimed at overturning his declaration of “national emergency” at the southwestern border to keep immigrants and refugees from the US.

The death toll in Yemen has continued to rise.

Justifying US arms sales to Saudi Arabia, Trump has repeatedly said that if the US doesn’t sell weapons, the Chinese and the Russians will sell them.

Asked if this a valid argument, NRC’s Solvang told IPS : “I have no idea if the Chinese or the Russians would step in to replace US arms sales. As we now know, there is no shortage of countries willing to sell arms to the (Saudi-led) Coalition “ – judging by the latest revelations out of France and the previous information out of the UK.

“The argument is basically irrelevant, and avoids the question of whether the US wants to be complicit in supporting the killing of civilians in Yemen. Congress thinks the US should not be and that’s what’s important here,” he said.

Meanwhile, US arms supplies to the Saudi-led coalition are also viewed as a move directed at Iran which is allied with the Yemenis caught in the middle of a larger confrontation between Iran on one side and the US and the Saudis on the other.

Solvang said that was also Trump’s justification for the veto.

He pointed out that the US views Ansar Allah, also known as the Houthis, as an Iranian proxy force, and US aid to the Coalition is part of the wider struggle in the region against Iran.

“This is not in dispute and the analysis is enthusiastically embraced by key administration officials, such as Secretary of State Mike Pompeo, who has accused Ansar Allah of being the primary cause of the humanitarian catastrophe in Yemen.”

This does not, however, relieve the US of its obligations to do what it can to protect civilians. That includes putting as much pressure on the coalition as it can – privately and publicly – to abide by the laws of war, said Solvang.

And, ultimately, if the US sees that it is not able to shift coalition behaviour sufficiently, end the cooperation or risk becoming complicit in the abuses, these obligations are the same for all parties to the war in Yemen.

Asked about the rising casualties, he pointed out that in the first three months of this year alone, NRC’s analysis of attacks on civilians reveals that civilian casualties in Hajjah and Taiz alone have more than doubled since the Hodeidah ceasefire and Stockholm Agreement came into effect, with 164 and 184 people killed respectively.

An estimated 788 civilian casualties were reported nationwide since 18 December last year. The majority of them, 318 people, were killed by shelling. Across Yemen, a total of 1,631 houses, 385 farms, 47 local businesses and 13 schools were attacked in the same period.

Meanwhile, in a statement released April 17, the 15-member UN Security Council reiterated their call on the (warring) parties to fulfil their obligations under international human rights law and international humanitarian law, including ensuring the protection of civilians.

They expressed deep concern at the devastating impact this conflict has had on civilians, especially Yemeni children.

And they reminded all parties of their obligations towards children affected by armed conflict, and called on them to engage constructively with the Special Representative for Children and Armed Conflict to implement their commitments and obligations.

The writer can be contacted at thalifdeen@ips.org

The post Trump’s Veto Will Trigger More US Arms to Kill Civilians in Yemen appeared first on Inter Press Service.

Videos appear to show armed militia detaining migrants at US-Mexico border

Trump trolls!

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The American Civil Liberties Union is calling the actions a ‘kidnapping’ and a flagrant violation of the law

Armed rightwing militia members detained a large group of migrants at the US-Mexico border and coordinated with US border patrol agents to have them arrested, according to the American Civil Liberties Union, in a series of actions the civil liberties organization called a “kidnapping” and a flagrant violation of the law.

Several videos taken at the border in New Mexico this week appeared to show men belonging to a group that calls itself the United Constitutional Patriots approaching migrant families and children, ordering them to sit down, calling federal agents on them, and at one point potentially misrepresenting themselves by saying “border patrol” as they approached.

Continue reading…

شبيبة فتح أعادت لحركة التحرر الفلسطيني صوت السلاح!

شبيبة فتح أعادت لحركة التحرر الفلسطيني صوت السلاح!

 

 

علينا بدء ان نبارك للشبيبة في جامعة بيرزيت، فوزهم (المتواضع) بالانتخابات الطلابية. لا يكن الا فهم حالة الترقب الكبيرة، و”العجقة” على مدار أيام من مناظرات ودعايات انتخابية ونتائج. بالنهاية، فان انتخابات جامعة بيرزيت هي الوحيدة التي تحصل في هذا الوطن بشفافية، ان حصلت. يعني هناك حالة تعطش حقيقية لانتخابات، جعلت الشعب كله جامعة بيرزيت، او بالأحرى صارت بيرزيت الجامعة، الوطن على مدار الأيام القليلة الماضية.

منذ سنوات والكتلة الإسلامية تفوز بالانتخابات الطلابية، أثر وبوضوح على الوضعية التاريخية للحراك بجامعة بيرزيت العريقة، التي كانت معقل الشبيبة الفتحاوية.

هذه السنة، قدمت شبيبة فتح كل ما تستطيع من إمكانيات لتفوز، حتى الصليب تم تلبيسه الكوفية لحشد الأصوات. ومن المرجح ان قمع حماس في غزة لحراك بدنا نعيش أثر على التصويت لمصلحة الكتلة الإسلامية.

في النهاية استطاعت ان تحصد شبيبة فتح ٦٧ صوت إضافي، لم يمكنها من زيادة مقاعدها المتساوية مع الكتلة المنافسة، ولكن أعطاها احقية الفوز.

فرحت شبيبة فتح في جامعة بيرزيت، وفرح المترقبون من أبناء الجامعة القدامى الذين لا يريدون هيمنة الكتلة الإسلامية، واخذ أبناء فتح التقليديين انفاسا طويلة، وفوح الفرحون بالانتصار (المتواضع) بعد شد عصيب للأنفاس.

خرجت الجماهير الى الشوارع لتملأ ساحات رام الله وكأن خبر التحرير من الاحتلال قد أعلن. او كأن الاحتلال قد انتهى، او ان الاسرى فكت قيودهم، او ان هدم بيت الشهيد لم يهدم.

لا اعرف ان كان أي من الاخبار هذه، كان سيخرج هذه الجموع الغفيرة بهذا الزخم الى الشوارع.

ولكن خرجوا، وفرحوا، وفرح الشعب لفرحتهم، واختبأ الخاسرون.

ما لم يتمكن أحد من فهمه، هو إطلاق النار الكثيف الذي رافق الاحتفالات، والذي تعدى فرحة مرافقي رئيس الوزراء السابق في اعراسهم (كما رأينا في فيديو انتشر على المواقع قبل أسابيع قليلة). إطلاق للرصاص غلب ما يقوم به الأردنيون في افراحهم، مناسباتهم، وغلب اغلاق الشوارع في الاعراس، وغلب كل ما يمكن ان يجمع من رصاصات أطلقت في الهواء من اجل ………..

لا اعرف من اجل ماذا فرغت تلك الرصاصات في الهواء. من اجل أي فرحة ومن جيبة أي فرع من فروع دفعات المواطن؟ تحت أي مسميات خرجت هذه الرصاصات ومن بطون أي مسدسات ولدت؟

قبل أشهر قليلة، جالت آليات الاحتلال رام الله شمالا وجنوبا، شرقا وغربا. في نفس اليوم هدم منزل عائلة الشهيد البرغوثي، ولم تخرج رصاصة في الهواء واحدة.

لدي بعض الأسئلة التي لم تتوقف من مجابهة عقلي منذ الليلة السابقة؟ من اين خرج كل هذا السلاح؟ ومن هم المواطنون المتسلحون؟ هل يستطيع المواطن العادي حمل السلاح؟ وان حمله من اين يقتنيه؟ ( قد نحتاج نحن المواطنون غير الفتحاويين اقتناء السلاح لحماية انفسنا من مغبة رصاصة طائشة)

بجدية مطلقة اطرح هذه الأسئلة، عقلي الصغير يفكر ان فوز الشبيبة (المتواضع) بالأمس، متعلق بطلاب جامعة لا يتعدون الربع الأول من عقدهم العشرين. هل تم تفريغ كل الشباب للجهات الأمنية المسلحة (على ما يبدو) قبل دخولهم جامعة بيرزيت؟

ام هل قام أجهزة الامن بتفريغ أنفسهم من اجل هذا الفوز وعليه تم السماح لهم باستخدام العيارات النارية الكثيفة، لأنه على ما يبدو استعادت حركة التحرر الفلسطيني قوته وستبدأ من إطلاق الرصاص تدشينا لطلقتها الأولى في شعاراتها التاريخية.

سيهب على كلامي الفتحاويين، وسأنتهي لأكون الرويبضة، والعاهرة، والعميلة، ولكن الا يوجد عاقل في فتح؟

إذا ما كانت انتخابات الكتل الطلابية تفرغ من اجل التعبير عن نفسها في فرحها هذا الكم من الرصاصات، فماذا سنترك للمجتمع العادي الذي لم يدخل الجامعات؟

كيف سنتصدى لحالات القبلية المتفشية، والعنف المستشري في المجتمع، إذا ما كانت نخبه (الطلابية-الجامعية) هي التي تحمل السلاح.

سؤال اخر يجب طرحه، وعلى المسؤولين الإجابة، أولا يجب إيجاد المسؤولين، فمن المسؤول عن الرصاص والسلاح في هذا الوطن؟ الأجهزة الأمنية المختلفة تتبع لوزارة الداخلية؟ فهل المسؤول هنا وزير الداخلية؟

في الأفلام نشاهد أهمية السلاح والرصاص وقدسيته، اما من قدسية ومسؤولية لهذه الرصاصات؟ كيف يحاسب مطلقيها ومن يراجعهم؟

في السابق كنا نخاف عدم الامن بوجود الجندي المدجج بالسلاح امامنا على الحواجز والطرقات. اليوم، كيف سنقيم من هو ذاك الخطر علينا؟ كيف سنعرف من هو حامل السلاح؟

كيف ظهرت كل هذه الأسلحة بهذه الكثافة فجأة؟ ومن سمح بها؟

سؤال على رئيس الوزراء الجديد الإجابة عليه، بصفتيه الرسميتين، كرئيس وزراء ووزير داخلية. ومن سيحاسبه إذا ما وقعت المسؤولية عليه؟