Daily Archives: 02/04/2011

( Radiation from Japan rained on Berkeley during recent storms at levels that exceeded drinking water standards by 181 times and has been detected in multiple milk samples, but the U.S. government has still not published any official data on nuclear fallout here from the Fukushima disaster.

Dangers from radiation that is wafting over the United States from the Fukushima power plant disaster and falling with rain have been downplayed by government officials and others, who say its impacts are so fleeting and minor as to be negligible.

But critics say an absence of federal data on the issue is hampering efforts to develop strategies for preventing radioactive isotopes from accumulating in the nation’s food and water supplies.

Three weeks after the Fukushima nuclear power plant began spewing radiation into the world’s air, the U.S. government still has not revealed the amount of iodine-131 or other radioactive elements that have fallen as precipitation or made their way into milk supplies or drinking water.

“The official mantra from a lot of folks in government is, ‘Oh, it’s OK in low levels,’” said Patty Lovera, a Washington-based assistant director at the nonprofit Food and Water Watch.

Read more: The Bay Citizen (

(eventility) The government is considering restricting the size of public meetings and events due to high risk terrorism threats and the current social unrest.  It is understood that the department handling the task of reviewing the law is the Big Society department headed up by Francis Maude.

‘When we say big society we don’t expect to see mobs of people gathering together, we need an orderly society, with the growth of social networks online and in particular, offline, we need to ensure democracy will not be undermined by special interest groups shouting louder than others by organising events though the use of Social network tools’ a spokesperson for Big Society has been quoted as saying, ‘Big society should not get too big for its boots. We’re watching and monitoring the situation carefully’.

A special meetings passport for groups of over 50 with a special exclusion for sports events are under consideration and will be debated in Parliament within weeks. The office of Francis Maude had no statement to offer when contacted directly other than saying they would release a statement when the time was appropriate.

Besides the proposed passport, the Government is also proposing a ‘road sign’ meeting ban symbol.

For further details please go to


( Protests over Terry Jones’s Quran burning spread to the southern city of Kandahar Saturday. By contrast, there was little popular reaction to recent photos of US soldiers posing with the bodies of Afghans they had killed for sport.

Kabul, Afghanistan

Protests in response to a US pastor burning the Koran spread across Afghanistan for a second day on Saturday, killing at least nine people and injuring more than 70 in the southern city of Kandahar. On Friday, a demonstration in the northern city of Mazar-e-Sharif turned violent whenan angry mob stormed a United Nations compound killing seven members of the foreign staff and five Afghans.

The sustained unrest over Quran burning in Afghanistan stands in sharp contrast to the virtual shrugging off of another shocking incident involving US forces. A day after Terry Jones, the pastor of Dove World Outreach Center in Gainesville, Fla., a church of about 30 congregants, burned the Quran on March 20, the German magazine Der Spiegel published photographs of US soldiers posing with dead Afghan civilians they’d killed for sport. Yet there was little, if any, popular reaction.

The disproportionate responses to the two incidents reveal Afghans’ increasingly complex attitude to the ongoing foreign presence in their country. Internationals have become increasingly unpopular, but after nearly a decade of the current war, many Afghans say they are numb to civilian causalities. Some say they assume that killing innocent people is business as usual for foreign forces.

“The people of Afghanistan are very sensitive about Islamic principles. But … there was a lot of blood shed for three decades in Afghanistan. Also it has become common since 2001 that many civilians are killed during military operations,” says Baryalai Hakimi, the head of the law and political science department at the National Center for Policy Research in Kabul. “The issue of killing civilians is serious, but not so serious as the Quran burning.”

The photographs in Der Spiegel surfaced last month, just as members of the US Army who were accused of operating in so-called kill teams and murdering Afghan civilians in 2010 went on trial. In the graphic photos, soldiers posed with their victims like hunters showing off a trophy deer. One soldier was convicted last week, receiving a sentence of 24 years in exchange for agreeing to testify against other men in his unit.

As the photos began to spread across the Internet, a number of officials feared it could create a violent public reaction like the one that followed the release of prisoner abuse photos at Abu Ghraib prison in Iraq.

Yet in a country where only 28.1 percent of the population is literate and many Afghans, especially those in rural areas, have only sporadic access to TV, such a news story is difficult to translate.

Most reaction, therefore, was confined to political circles and educated Afghans. And among the broader population who were aware of the killings and trial, the muted response may simply confirm the well-entrenched view that international forces place limited value on protecting civilians.

“When it comes to the general population’s perception of what is being done in terms of civilian casualties, I believe it has promoted a very negative picture of international forces. I think that for the legitimacy of the Afghan government, for the legitimacy of the international community, we have to avoid such perceptions getting stronger and stronger,” says Walilullah Rahmani, executive director of the Kabul Center for Strategic Studies.

A story about Americans burning a Quran, on the other hand, moves easily by word of mouth and is readily understood by all Afghans.

“Afghans are religiously conservative people and most of our population, they are not even middle class. So the lower class level of Afghans are highly tribal and religious and this religious sector always motivates things,” notes Mr. Rahmani.


( Ivory Coast leader Laurent Gbagbo is battling to remain in power as rival Alassane Ouattara’s forces surround the main city of Abidjan. Much of the fighting is concentrated around Gbagbo’s heavily fortified presidential palace. Ouattara’s forces are estimated to control as much as 80 percent of the Ivory Coast. We speak to Corinne Dufka, senior researcher in the Africa Division of Human Rights Watch, and Ivory Coast political analyst Gnaka Lagoke of Watch report here:

( Historical notes on the activities of anarchist partisans in the anti-fascist Resistance in Italy during World War II.

Italy formally surrendered to the Allies on 8 September 1943, though areas of central and northern Italy remained in the hands of the Germans and of the fascist Salo Republic. Anarchists immediately threw themselves into armed struggle, establishing where possible (Carrera, Pistoia, Genoa and Milan) autonomous formations, or, as was the case in most instances, joining other formations such as the socialist ‘Matteotti’ brigades, the Communist ‘Garibaldi’ brigades, the ‘Giustizia e Liberta’ units of the Action Party.

Twenty years of fascist dictatorship which, perhaps deliberately, labelled any sort of opposition as ‘Communist’, exile, imprisonment and not least the quite special treatment that the post-fascist Badoglio government reserved for anarchists certainly helped make any immediate rebuilding of the organisational ranks of the libertarian movement all the more difficult. It was in this special context, marked by confusion and disorientation, that there took place a far from negligible haemorrhaging of some libertarians in the direction of the Action Party, the Socialist Party and sometimes the Communist Party. While anarchist participation in the partisan struggle was conspicuous, especially in terms of bloodshed, it also exercised little influence. This was due to the complete hegemony of social-democratic ideas across an arc of political groupings from liberals through to the Communists. Read More