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Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions (BDS) is a global campaign[1] attempting to increase economic and political pressure on Israel to comply with the stated goals of the movement: the end of Israeli occupation and colonization of Palestinian land, full equality for Arab-Palestinian citizens of Israel, and respect for the right of return of Palestinian refugees.


‘If not now, when?’ On BDS and ‘singling out’ Israel…

It’s not possible to campaign against any injustice anywhere without ‘singling it out’, argues Mike Marqusee

This is an edited version of a letter I’ve just sent to a relative in the US who’s been trying to figure out the boycott,…

The Hypocrite in the White House

James Risen calls Obama ‘greatest enemy of press freedom in a generation’

• Journalist refuses to reveal source of story about CIA operation
• President’s support for press freedom called ‘hypocritical’
The New York Times investigative reporter James Risen has exhausted his legal avenues to avoid prison under the Espionage Act. Photograph: Brendan Smialowski/AFP/Getty Images

The New York Times reporter James Risen, who faces jail over his refusal to reveal a source and testify against a former CIA agent accused of leaking secrets, has called President Barack Obama “the greatest enemy of press freedom in a generation”.

Speaking to his colleague Maureen Dowd, Risen accused the president of aggressively pursuing journalists, including himself, who report sensitive stories that reflect poorly on the US government.

Risen faces jail over his reporting of a botched intelligence operation that ended up spilling nuclear secrets to Iran. The Justice Department has long been seeking to force him to testify and name the confidential source of the account, which is contained in his 2006 book State of War.

Risen recently failed in an attempt to have the supreme court review an order for him to testify, and acknowledges that he has exhausted all his legal options against the Justice Department’s pursuit of him under the controversial Espionage Act. In the face of incarceration that could come as early as this autumn, he is resorting instead to journalistic defiance.

Risen would be the first journalist to go to prison for failing to divulge sources since 2005, when the former New York Times reporter Judith Miller was jailed for contempt of court, after refusing to testify about a source before a federal grand jury.

“I was nervous for a long time, but they’ve been after me for six years so now I try to ignore it,” Risen told Dowd.

The pursuit of Risen began under the administration of President George W Bush. The Justice Department tried to prosecute him under the Espionage Act for his 2006 Pulitzer Prize-winning scoop about the illegal wiretapping of American citizens after the terrorist attacks of 11 September 2001. It also targeted him for the revelations in State of War.

The Bush administration arrested Jeffrey Sterling, whom Dowd on Sunday referred to as a “disillusioned” former CIA operative, and accused him of being the source of Risen’s leak about Iran. The Obama administration continues to attempt to force Risen to testify against Sterling and name him as his main source.

Risen is furious at statements from the likes of Obama and the attorney general, Eric Holder, about supporting press freedom – including condemnation of the police in Ferguson, Missouri, for this week arresting journalists reporting on riots there.

Obama and Holder said journalists should not be arrested or harassed for doing their jobs and covering “a story that needs to be told”. In May, Holder said of the Sterling case: “No reporter who is doing his job is going to go to jail.” Risen, however, could be behind bars within weeks.

Dowd asked Risen how the Obama administration could use the Espionage Act to imprison reporters and whistleblowers while not acting on the acknowledged use of torture by the CIA on terrorism suspects and the same agency spying on the US Senate.

“It’s hypocritical,” Risen said. “A lot of people still think this is some kind of game or signal or spin. They don’t want to believe that Obama wants to crack down on the press and whistleblowers. But he does. He’s the greatest enemy to press freedom in a generation.”

Last week, groups campaigning for press freedom handed a petition with more than 100,000 signatures to the Justice Department, urging it to drop the case against Risen.

“It’s surreal to be caught up in a news story instead of writing about one,” he told Dowd.


The Character Assassination of Michael Brown The slow release of information in Ferguson has created a different portrait of the dead 18-year-old. By Emma Roller

There is still a lot we don’t know about the death of Michael Brown, and won’t know until various law-enforcement officials come out with their findings about what motivated the killing of an unarmed, black 18-year-old by a white police officer. (The New York Times has a good rundown of what we know for certain about Brown’s death so far.)

What is not up for debate, however, is that since he was shot to death on Aug. 9, Brown has been the subject of character assassination by the police and by the media.

"Gang signs"

After Trayvon Martin, an unarmed, black 17-year-old, was killed by a neighborhood watchman in 2012, commentators tried to justify his death with photos of Martin throwing up “gang signs”—which amounted to photos of him flipping off the camera, smoking, and wearing a backwards baseball cap—as evidence that Martin was a “thug.”

Similarly, the shooting of Michael Brown by a law-enforcement officer has undergone media thuggification. A tweet from NBC News—which depicted an unsmiling Brown throwing a peace sign—sparked outrage among Twitter users, and led to the creation of the hashtag #IfTheyGunnedMeDown to ask, “If they gunned me down, which picture would they use?” In tweets, users juxtaposed edgier photos of themselves with more wholesome photos—in a cap and gown, smiling with family, or in a military uniform. The growth of the hashtag in the days after the shooting helped bring national attention to Brown’s death.

Since its first tweet about the story, NBC has illustrated its stories about Brown with a photo of him wearing headphones and a varsity jacket.

Robbery footage

The media’s distortion of black victims is nothing new. But rarely does the police department investigating a crime so thoroughly confuse the press about the context of a victim’s death.

That is precisely what Ferguson Police Chief Thomas Jackson appeared to do Friday. On that morning, Jackson called a press conference to release the name of the officer who killed Brown. Along with the officer’s name—Darren Wilson—Jackson released surveillance footage from a strong-arm robbery at a convenience store, which allegedly showed Brown “towering over” the shop owner and stealing a carton of cigarillos (value: $48.99).

Naturally, the press had many questions about the robbery footage, but Jackson refused to take any questions. He instead asked reporters to “digest” the information and reconvene in the afternoon for another press conference at which he would take questions.

Many reporters assumed—not unreasonably!—that the robbery must have somehow directly led to Brown’s shooting. And indeed, the media proceeded to speculate about how the robbery footage was connected to Brown’s death for most of the day on Friday, until Jackson revealed that the robbery was, in fact, in no way connected to Brown’s shooting.

While it may seem that six hours is not enough time to mislead the public, it was ample time for national outlets to repeatedly play the footage, and treat it as a key factor in the case.

Brown’s family has said that the piecemeal manner in which the police have released information about Brown suggests an attempt to craft a narrative that would ultimately justify his death.

Marijuana in his system

On Monday, an anonymous source familiar with the investigation into Brown’s death told The Washington Post that, at the time of his death, Brown had marijuana in his system.

Conservative thought leaders such as the Drudge Report and Rush Limbaugh seized on this new bit of information. But smoking pot is hardly a smoking gun, nor is it indicative of a criminal mind (as Coloradans and Washingtonians would attest). As some pointed out, the past three presidents in office have all smoked marijuana. And even if Brown did suffer from some form of Reefer Madness, marijuana can remain detectable in toxicology reports long after its effects have worn off.

As Nicole Flatow points out, marijuana is often used to paint black victims as aggressive or paranoid—as George Zimmerman’s attorney argued about Martin—while white victims who happen to smoke pot are often not as stigmatized.

Anonymous stories

Given the dearth of information about what happened on Aug. 9, the media has been scrambling for anyone who may have information on the shooting.

The latest information comes from an anonymous account by a woman who claimed to know Wilson. On Friday, the conservative talk-show host Dana Loesch received an anonymous call from a woman going by the name “Josie,” who said she knew Wilson’s side of the story.

She said she had heard the story on Facebook from Wilson’s “significant other.” Here is the entire transcript of what “Josie” told Loesch:

The problem with “Josie’s” story, however, is that it closely resembles a Facebook post supposedly written by Darren Wilson, telling his side of the story. A CNN producer eventually debunked the post as fake.

With no scheduled press conferences with Ferguson police on Monday, and Wilson himself having gone AWOL, national media turned back to Loesch’s interview. To litigate Brown’s shooting in the court of public opinion, national outlets like CNN have started using “Josie’s” story to represent Wilson’s point of view.

"Source w/detailed knowledge of investigation into shooting tells CNN account of caller to KTFK matches account of Officer Darren Wilson," CNN anchor Jake Tapper tweeted on Monday.

According to CNN host Don Lemon, “a source with detailed knowledge of the investigation … says that the account of a caller to St. Louis radio station KTFK matches the account of officer Darren Wilson as to what happened at the time of the shooting.”

So, ironically, CNN is now taking as fact an account that is essentially the same story it already debunked.


On Monday, President Obama avoided weighing in on Brown’s death.

"I have to be very careful about not prejudging these events before investigations are completed," he said at a press conference. “The DOJ works for me, and when they’re conducting an investigation, I’ve got to make sure that I don’t look like I’m putting my thumb on the scales one way or the other.”

But Obama doesn’t need to worry about putting a “thumb on the scales.” Other public officials and public voices have already done that work for him.


NB The article reblogged with some minor errors.Please go to original for complete story

Why doesn't Noam Chomsky support BDS? Palestinian activist Wael Elasady examines Noam Chomsky's critique of the international boycott, divestment and sanctions campaign against Israeli apartheid.


Protesters in New York call for boycotts against Israeli occupationProtesters in New York call for boycotts against Israeli occupation

IN 2003, I picked up a copy of Noam Chomsky’s Hegemony and Survival and devoured it within a week. It had been two years since 9/11, and I was still reeling, trying to wrap my head around the daily racism that I…

Where does the struggle for justice go next? by Keeanga-Yamahtta Taylor


George Zimmerman, the neighborhood watch volunteer who stalked and killed Trayvon Martin, has been arrested and charged with second-degree murder. But for all the people who protested to demand justice for Trayvon, we know our struggle is only beginning.

On April 11, the same day that…

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