Sunday, November 18, 2012

Melanie Phillips: The (real) news

 Melanie Phillips
 NOTE TO READER: I had the pleasure of hearing a talk by Melanie Phillips at UCSC a few years ago. She, like me, identifies with the left. She, like me, when examining the issues associated with the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, has come down firmly on the pro-Israel side. She, like me, has paid a huge price for holding that position.  So it is with great pleasure that I offer my blog readers her analysis of the death toll in the Gaza 2012 War from a reasoned point of view.  No photos of dead, bloody babies. Just facts, research, and a persuasive analysis.  ---Becky Johnson, Ed.
18 November 2012

Here is the (real) news

 By Melanie Phillips

Published in: Melanie's Blog

Here is some information about the war between Gaza and Israel that for some unaccountable reason you may have missed today in Britain’s mainstream media.
  • The casualty rate in Gaza from Israeli strikes is astoundingly low
Since the beginning of Israel’s operation Pillar of Defence last Wednesday against Hamas rocket attacks, there have been more than 1000 Israeli air strikes. At time of writing, the Palestinian death toll is 69. That is a staggeringly small number of fatalities for more than 1000 bombing raids.
It shows beyond doubt that the Israelis are not only doing everything they can to avoid civilian casualties, but have achieved a degree of precision in doing so which no other army can match. For sure, every civilian casualty is regrettable, and the deaths of children are always tragic -- today’s apparently heavy toll particularly so, including at what appears to have been a mistaken target. Such mistakes inevitably happen in war.
But consider this: the very low casualty rate among Israelis from the thousands of rockets that have rained down on them from Gaza is largely due to the fact that Israel has provided its citizens with shelters to save their lives. In Gaza, by horrific contrast, the Hamas leadership has deliberately exposed its citizens to attack by siting its rocket arsenals among them in order to maximise the number of civilian men, women and children who will be killed.
  • A number of Gazan civilians may have been killed by their own rockets
Israel says that no fewer than 60 of the 703 rockets that Hamas fired at Israel between last Wednesday and Saturday fell inside Gaza on Palestinian civilians. The question therefore is how many of the 69 dead Palestinians were killed by their own rockets?
  • Here’s one: Hamas lies that a child killed by its own rocket was killed by Israel
Last Friday, a number of papers along with outlets such as CNN in the US published prominent footage of the Egyptian Prime Minister Hisham Kanil weeping over the body cradled in his arms of a dead child, Mahmoud Sadallah, who Hamas claimed had been killed in an Israeli air strike. Blogger Elder of Zyon smelled a rat and, piecing together convincing circumstantial evidence, had concluded by this morning that the child was almost certainly not killed by an Israeli strike – not least because on Friday morning when the child died the Israelis had paused their bombing missions to allow for cease-fire talks in Gaza to proceed -- but by a Hamas missile that was fired at Israel but had fallen short in Gaza. Now experts from the Palestinian Centre for Human Rights who visited the site on Saturday have said they believe that the explosion that killed Mahmoud Sadallah was indeed caused by a Palestinian rocket.
Just how prominent do you reckon the apologies on CNN and in the British media for this sloppy and incompetent reporting/malicious war libel of Israel will be?
  • Hamas admits to using human shields
In 2008 , Gaza MP Fathi Muhammad boasted that Hamas used Gaza’s civilian population as human shields. He screamed:
‘For the Palestinian people, death has become an industry at which women excel, and so do all the people living on this land. The elderly excel at this, and so do the mujahideen and the children. This is why they have formed human shields of the women, the children, the elderly and the mujahideen, in order to challenge the Zionist bombing machine. It is as if they were saying to the Zionist enemy, “We desire death like you desire life”.’
Remember this next time you hear or read of claims by Palestinians or their useful western media idiots of ‘massacres’ of civilians in Gaza.
  • Hamas is now using journalists as human shields
Hamas is preventing at least 22 foreign journalists from leaving Gaza for Israel. According to Israel’s Foreign Ministry, among those being detained are nine Italian citizens, one Canadian, one South Korean, a French national and six journalists from Japan. In addition, two Turkish Red Crescent members have been refused exit.
  • Hamas tells lies as a matter of routine
Hamas has claimed, inter alia, that Israel’s Ben Gurion airport has been closed (false), that it had succeeded in shooting down an Israeli F16 plane (false), that it had hit Tel Aviv and had cut off electricity there (false). When will the western media stop assuming that they can believe any claim that Hamas ever makes?
  • Hamas is now threatening human bomb attacks
Hamas is now threatening to use human bombs against both Israeli civilians in buses and cafes, and against Israeli soldiers in any ground offensive in Gaza. This is what almost certainly faces the Israel Defence Forces if they go in, because as Fathi Muhammad said (above), the Palestinians are a death cult; they are committed to death and to killing, while the Israelis are committed to life and to saving life.
  • Israel is feeding the hand that bites it
Unprecedentedly for a country at war, Israel continues to supply food, gas and medical supplies to its enemies in Gaza for humanitarian reasons. Would any other country in the world keep the supply route open to people who are firing thousands of rockets to murder its people and are threatening to turn themselves into human bombs to kill its soldiers and civilians, so that they can continue to do so?
  • And now for some news from civilised Britain
On BBC Radio’s Any Questions on Friday evening, audience questioner Stephen Bedford asked:
‘Despite all the foreign aid and support, Israel has spectacularly failed to get on with its neighbours. Does Israel deserve a future?’
So with Israel having faced existential attack from the Arab and Muslim world for the six decades of its existence, and having been under intensive rocket, missile and human bomb attack from them for more than a decade, the BBC Any Questions production team selected as the audience question to launch its discussion of the Gaza war whether Israel actually deserved to exist at all.

Friday, November 9, 2012

Lemaster Lodging trial turns into inquisition and hate-fest

Linda Lemaster (left) attending one of many pre-trial hearings with supporters, Leslie and Kent, November 2, 2012 for a "lodging" ticket she got two years ago. Photo by Becky Johnson

 by Becky Johnson
November 9, 2012

Santa Cruz, Ca. --  According to ADA Alex Byers, Linda Lemaster faces Six Months in Jail for the "crime"of sleeping/not sleeping on public/private property with /without possessions for a long/short period of time which can be intentional/unintentional, all subject to the "permission" of the "authority."
Linda is on trial for PC 647 ( e ) or  illegal "lodging" under a little-used portion of the State code, which sheriff's had not used before citing protestors at Peace Camp 2010.
According to Byers,  a protester with his/her sign attempting to peaceably assemble to seek redress of government grievances may do so: 
ONLY where the govt. tells them they can.
ONLY when the govt. tells them they can.
And, apparently, NOT while sitting, lying down, or sleeping since these = lodging. And if a Sheriff tells you you can't "lodge" then whatever you are doing is "lodging." According to Byers, Sheriff's didn't need to prove a person was "lodging" in order to issue a citation. Only that they were "still there on the steps when sheriff's came back."

 On the night of August 10th, as Linda Lemaster was cited for illegal lodging, Sheriff's moved elderly, Collette Connolly off the steps. Here she collapses in exhaustion on her belongings a scant 50 feet from the courthouse. Why Sheriff's told us the steps of the courthouse were illegal at 4:30AM but the parking lot was not was only one of the many arbitrary and confusing encounters Peace Camp 2010 had with law enforcement. Photo by Becky Johnson

Oh, THAT's a convenient definition of the code! When a sheriff hands you an unsigned piece of paper, then, according to Byers, that person "has been educated"that they no longer have the right to carry a sign, to protest, or to seek redress of government grievances.  And if a protester wants to publicly assemble? They must follow "time, place, and manner restrictions" which are not written in the law anywhere.

Christopher Doyon a.k.a. "X" of Peace Camp 2010 pauses on the lower steps at Peace Camp 2010. In the background, Ed Frey's white, pick-up truck can be seen hitched to the camp porto-pottie. Other than Ed's privy, homeless people had no access to a bathroom at night other than at Peace Camp 2010. Photo by Becky Johnson July 30, 2010

For ADA Alex Byers, camping = lodging except that "camping" is not illegal in that particular location under County Code.

While camping is , according to Byers, essentially the same thing, "lodging" rates 6 months in jail and/or a $1000 fine. And CAMPING is legal in the location where Linda was cited.   Committing the same crime in the City (and Lemaster WAS in the City when she was cited) rates a $92 citation or 8 hours of community service as a possible consequence. So why did the sheriff's use the statewide "lodging" code rather than the County's camping code or the City's Sleeping and Blanket ban?

According to ADA, Alex Byers, it was due to "tolerance."

Those at Peace Camp 2010 know better. The plucky little group had discovered that the County's camping ban does not apply to the grounds around the courthouse and government center. In other words "camping" is legal there. Also, due to jurisdictional agreements, City police do not patrol the grounds at the Government Center. Sheriff's opted to not enforce City codes against Sleeping and using  blankets. Codes that are all infractions, violations of which do not include jail. These were the twin laws the protest had assembled to challenge.
On July 29th, 2010, Ed Frey received a letter from County Counsel, Dana McCrae. She informed Frey that city ordinances ARE enforceable at the County Center, since it is within the City limits.  The SENTINEL reported that the reason no citations had yet been issued was because "government officials, law enforcement officers and legal experts (had to) sort out what rules apply to the property."

Peace Camp 2010 used public space which is unused at night. This photo taken on July 20th at 8:13PM shows people setting up bedding. At 8:00AM, Ed Frey would drive the porto-pottie off of the property and normal use of the facilities would commence.  Photo by Becky Johnson
Around the end of July,  County Counsel, Dana McCrae dusted off the lawbooks and dug up a code which used language lifted from an 1880 law in California designed to keep freed slaves from moving into the State. Judges Gallagher and in this trial, Connolly further eroded civil rights by creating a definition which lifts language from the 1851 Indiana State Constitution which states:  "No Negro or Mulatto shall come into, or settle in, the State..."

The new definition of lodging which Judge Rebecca Connolly approved: "To occupy a place temporarily or permanently, or temporarily settle or to live in a place, it may, but does not have to include sleeping. It means more than just sleeping and less than moving into a place permanently." 

Byers told jurors of the flyer sheriff's passed out willy-nilly to anyone who wanted one: The flyer only stated you are illegally lodging without permission. Merely telling Petitioner or anyone else that they are lodging or that they do not have the owner’s permission in no way clarifies what lodging means or how one can avoid it. In this circumstance “to lodge” illegally appears to have meant to the deputies- to further physically occupy space in any manner on the steps of the Santa Cruz County courthouse.

Sheriff's deputies stopped calling what we were doing as "camping" and started to accuse us of "lodging." We knew something was coming. About a week later, sheriff's handed out this flyer which had no letterhead, was unsigned, and unconvincing in its text as part of their "Education phase."  --Photo by Becky Johnson Aug 7 2010

Byers told jurors about a 2-phased Plan to get the protesters to leave the location.
--Education phase followed by an Enforcement phase.
"Lt. Plageman testified that they weren't' interfering with the right to protest.
Their goal was to stop people from the intent of the protest which was to violate
the law." He told jurors that flyers were handed out in the following way:  "If you were lying down, you were sleeping, you were violating the law. At 4:30AM, they were already lodging when the
Sheriffs deputies arrived. They were already breaking the law."
Sounds like a slam-dunk. 
So does the "law" outlaw lying down, or sleeping? No. PC 647( e ) outlaws "lodging"
but that word is not defined anywhere in the code. In 2011, at the Peace Camp Six
trial, Judge John Gallagher made up a definition by looking at old codes and
a dictionary.  Judge Rebecca Connolly has made up a new definition. In neither
case, were any of the defendants allowed access to either definition of lodging
when cited two years ago. 
"The dictionary includes 14 different definitions of "lodging," Defense Attorney Jonathon Gettleman quickly added in.

jurors don't know that defendants (and their attorneys) have challenged that
Byers showed some really dark and grainy videos which roughly show a mess. John Valley's voice can be heard and the sound of Linda coughing.  Even worse, he paints the protest as characterized as "junk all over", none of which has ANYTHING to do with Linda Lemaster. Linda was wide awake at 11PM with no bedding. That, at 4:30AM, sheriff's came and found her sitting up and looking sleepy, doesn't mean a crime was committed.

Byers asserted more claims that I doubt are true.
"No one is allowed to lodge on the steps of the courthouse at night." Huh? Lodging isn't defined as an activity done at night only. And when Linda Lemaster was there at 4:30AM, she wasn't trespassing. The courthouse steps were a legal public place to be (at the time. Since this has been changed by County administration to make it a crime to BE THERE between 7PM and 7AM).