Salah Hammouri

Israel Set To Deport Palestinian-French Human Rights Defender Salah Hammouri

Having spent nearly a decade in occupation prisons, Hammouri was most recently placed under administrative detention in March. In 2020, Israel revoked his residency status, an often-used tool of ethnic cleansing deployed against Palestinians in East Jerusalem.

By Peoples Dispatch

The Israeli occupation is set to deport Palestinian-French human rights defender Salah Hammouri to France on December 4. The 37-year-old lawyer, who has been under illegal administrative detention since March, was notified of the decision on Wednesday, November 30.

Salah Hammouri

Hammouri is a researcher at the Palestinian prisoner advocacy group Addameer, one of six Palestinian civil society organizations outlawed by Israel. He has faced increasingly severe violence and harassment at the hands of the occupation for two decades, since his first arrest in 2001 during the second Intifada at the age of just 16.

Hammouri has spent nearly a decade in Israeli prisons, often without charge or trial. On March 7, 2022, Israeli Occupation Forces, accompanied by the notorious undercover Musta’ribeen unit, stormed Hammouri’s house in Kufor Aqab, north of Jerusalem. He was placed under arrest and his electronic devices, including cell phones and a laptop, were seized.

On March 13, he was placed under administrative detention for three months. Hours before his scheduled release in June, Hammouri was informed that his detention had been renewed. In August, the Ofer military court denied his appeal against the detention order based on evidence from “secret files,” citing his supposed affiliation with the Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine (PFLP).

Salah’s detention was renewed yet again on September 4 for a period of three months, which will now end with his deportation.

Israel has deployed its illegal and arbitrary policy of administrative detention almost exclusively against Palestinians to imprison them indefinitely, while denying them the basics of due process and the rights enshrined under international law. According to Addameer, 820 people are being held as administrative detainees in Israeli prisons at present.

What has been of particular note in Hammouri’s case is Israel’s consistent attempt to permanently expel him from Jerusalem.

In 2005, Hammouri was arrested and imprisoned for allegedly plotting an attack on an Israeli Rabbi, Ovadia Yosef. Following negotiations with the French consulate, he was offered a deal—to leave Jerusalem for France for 10 years in exchange for his release. Hammouri rejected the allegations and refused the offer, and was sentenced to seven years in prison.

In 2015, he was barred from entering the occupied West Bank from his home in Jerusalem for six months. The order was subsequently renewed before being removed in 2016. Hammouri was placed under administrative detention again in August 2017, to be released only in September 2018 after an extension and a renewal.

On September 3, 2020, Israeli authorities informed Hammouri of their decision to revoke his permanent residency status, citing a “breach of allegiance” to the State of Israel. He was officially notified of the revocation in October, after being given 30 days to make a written submission.

Residency revocation has been a key tool of the Israeli settler-colonial project, used against Palestinians in occupied East Jerusalem since its illegal annexation in 1967. Israel created the status of “permanent residents” for Palestinians in Jerusalem, a deliberately precarious identity subject to control and manipulation by the occupation.

The criteria for revocation have been expanded over the years to strip over 14,500 Palestinians of their residency rights. Residency revocation is often accompanied by Israel’s other policies of ethnic cleansing geared towards illegally creating and maintaining an Israeli-Jewish majority in the occupied territory.

In 2018, Israel amended its Entry to Israel Law allowing its Interior Ministry to revoke the residency status of Palestinians deemed to have “breached allegiance” to Israel.

“How can a brutally subjugated and colonized population be expected to pledge loyalty to its occupier?” Hammouri wrote in 2020.

Forced transfers emerging out of residency revocation, constitute a war crime and a violation of the Geneva Convention, which prohibits the forcible transfers of a protected population out of an occupied territory.

Israel has also repeatedly targeted Hammouri’s family, denying a family reunification application to permit him and his wife Elsa Lefort, a French citizen, to live together in Jerusalem. Lefort was ultimately deported to France, where she and their two children have been forced to remain.

Hammouri has continued to participate in collective resistance actions organized by Palestinian prisoners against their unjust incarceration, including the comprehensive boycott of the illegitimate military court system earlier this year, as well as a collective hunger strike launched in September.

In July, Hammouri penned an open letter to French president Emmanuel Macron, denouncing the “impunity” with which Macron allowed Israel to operate. He also criticized the manner in which Israel was treated as being “above the law” despite its ethnic cleansing of the Palestinian people.

A week later, Hammouri was reclassified as a “sagav”—or dangerous—prisoner, and, a few days later, transferred from the Ofer military prison to the high-security Hadarim prison. Israel took further punitive steps against Hammouri during the hunger strike in September, shifting him to solitary confinement in a windowless 2×2 meter cell, cut off from the outside world for a period of 15 days.

His case has drawn international attention, with independent UN experts denouncing Israel’s practices as not just unlawful, but “sadistic.” With his illegal expulsion now imminent, Palestinian activists and organizations have joined their voices with the Justice for Salah campaign to amplify the call for his release.

Google HQ in Mountain View, CA

Top Antitrust Expert: We Need A New Approach To Giant Tech Firms Like Google

Economist Cristina Caffarra, a leader in competition and antitrust, warns that ever-expanding tech giants raise concerns about the extent of their power.

By Lynn Parramore, Institute for New Economic Thinking

Since the 1970s, economists buying into the Chicago School of Antitrust have waved off the dangers of lax antitrust policies, professing that “the market” would sort out issues of competition and punish companies that abuse size and power. The Chicagoans’ narrow focus on direct consumer costs as the sole measure of harm didn’t consider the impact of consolidation on small businesses, start-ups, workers, or, for that matter, democratic norms. Nor did it raise red flags for tech platforms that were touted as “free” for users (while monetizing our attention and personal data).

Google HQ in Mountain View, CA

A growing number of critics argue that these basic assumptions are both wrong and outdated, as evidenced by the fact that in many industries, particularly technology, companies have been growing to gargantuan proportions and, as anybody who owns a smartphone is painfully aware, they seem free to gobble competitors, hinder innovation, and serve up crappy, overpriced products.

These conglomerations of money and power not only end up widening the inequality gap, but they also threaten democracy itself, as University of Utah antitrust expert Mark Glick and other experts have attested. That’s why tech-focused antitrust voices are sounding the alarm as companies like Google, Amazon, Apple, and Meta expand at a breakneck pace, encroaching into every possible area of our lives, from our cars to our refrigerators to our dreams.

European antitrust and competition expert Cristina Caffarra has been a top advisor and expert before the European Commission and in courts and agencies across Europe, as well as a guide in antitrust efforts in the United States. Her experience includes landmark cases on the economics of platforms and the digital economy for and against Microsoft, Amazon, Apple, Google, Meta, and more. She spoke to the Institute for New Economic Thinking about what she sees as the most pressing areas of antitrust, why regulation and legal actions have largely failed so far, and why, from her perspective, too many economists have been part of the problem rather than the solution.

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railroad tracks

Biden Breaks His Promise, Betrays Rail Workers

In 2020, Biden called the lack of decent paid sick leave “a national disgrace” — now he’s siding with railroad barons to crush workers seeking those benefits.

By Matthew Cunningham-Cook, Andrew Perez, Rebecca Burns & Julia Rock, The Lever

As a labor dispute between rail workers and railroad companies barrels towards a nationwide rail strike, President Joe Biden is standing with railroad barons to force a deal on workers that not only falls far short of their demands, but also goes against Biden’s own promises to grant reasonable paid sick leave to all Americans.

railroad tracks

The move is the latest and possibly starkest example of the chasm between Biden’s pro-worker rhetoric during his campaign and presidency, and the numerous pro-corporate actions he has taken in the White House.

As part of his 2020 presidential campaign, Biden pledged that he would ensure all workers have at least seven paid sick days. And early in his presidency, he called on Congress to pass a bill that would require companies to let all of their workers accrue at least seven days of paid sick leave per year.

“It’s a national disgrace that millions of our fellow citizens don’t have a single day of paid sick leave available to them,” Biden said in a March 2020 campaign speech.

But this September, Biden reversed course, helping negotiate a deal between railroad bosses and unions that would only grant workers a single paid sick day per year, despite the unions pushing for as many as 15 sick days — a number they were ultimately willing to reduce to as few as four. Now, to avoid a shutdown of the nation’s rail network, he is asking Congress to force that deal on workers who voted to reject it.

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hakeem Jeffries

Hype About Democrats Passing the Torch: Don’t Get Fooled Again

When a torch passes, we might be glad to “meet the new boss.” But we should discard illusions. That way, hopefully, we don’t get fooled again

By Norman Solomon

Images of passing the torch can be stirring.

President John Kennedy reached heights of inaugural oratory when he declared that “the torch has been passed to a new generation of Americans.” Three decades later, when Bill Clinton won the presidency, a Newsweek headline proclaimed “THE TORCH PASSES.” The article underneath glorified “a film clip that made its way into a widely seen campaign ad: a beaming, 16-year-old Bill Clinton on a sun-drenched White House lawn, shaking the hand of his and his generation’s idol, John F. Kennedy.”

hakeem Jeffries

Weeks later, when Time magazine named Clinton “Man of the Year,” its cover story carried the headline “THE TORCH IS PASSED.”

The Clinton presidency went on to carry the torch for corporate-friendly measures. The NAFTA trade pact destroyed many well-paying union jobs; “welfare reform” harmed poor women and their families; a landmark crime law fueled mass incarceration; Wall Street deregulation led to the financial meltdown of 2007-2008.

Now, the top of the Democratic Party is passing torches on Capitol Hill. When Nancy Pelosi announced two weeks ago that she will no longer lead House Democrats, she said: “The hour has come for a new generation to lead.” But in what direction?

Pelosi quickly endorsed Rep. Hakeem Jeffries to replace her as leader. NBC News offered the common media frame: “Pelosi made history as the first female speaker of the House, while Jeffries, the current Democratic Caucus chairman, would become the first Black leader of a congressional caucus and highest-ranking Black lawmaker on Capitol Hill.”

You can count on much of the mass media to shower the 52-year-old Jeffries with accolades, largely supplied by fellow Democrats. But, overall, a closer look reveals a problematic record.

Early on, before becoming a New York state legislator, Jeffries worked for years as a corporate lawyer. In Congress – while he has taken a few progressive positions like cosponsoring Medicare for All and voting to cut 10 percent of the military budget – his emphasis has been in sync with the party establishment.

“I’m a Black progressive Democrat concerned with addressing racial and social and economic injustice with the fierce urgency of now,” Jeffries told The Atlantic in August 2021. But during the same interview, Jeffries added: “There will never be a moment where I bend the knee to hard-left democratic socialism.” (Ironically, Jeffries was echoing the “fierce urgency of now” phrase from Martin Luther King Jr., who was a democratic socialist.)

Jeffries likes to jab leftward. In 2016, he called Bernie Sanders a “gun-loving socialist with zero foreign-policy experience.” A 2018 profile in The Economist – titled “High Hopes for Hakeem Jeffries” – concluded that he “is nearly as moderate as a safe-seat Democrat gets.” The article pointed out: “Though he supports the principle of universal healthcare coverage, he speaks of ‘the importance of market forces and getting things done in a responsible fashion.’ Quoting Ronald Reagan approvingly, he suggests this means promoting a flourishing private sector outside the ‘legitimate functions’ of government.”

Congressman Jeffries takes umbrage at negative press portrayals to such an extent that his office tries to quash critical assessments. When I wrote in a HuffPost piece in January 2019 that “Jeffries has been more attentive to serving corporate power than the interests of voters in his Brooklyn district,” the response was swift and angry. Jeffries’s communications director and senior advisor at the time, Michael Hardaway, fired off emails to HuffPost, claiming that my characterization was “factually inaccurate and easily disproven.” Despite the escalating fulminations, the HuffPost editor explained that he saw “no reason to correct or update the piece.”

Jeffries has not been a sponsor of the Green New Deal (which Pelosi famously denigrated in 2019: The green dream or whatever they call it, nobody knows what it is, but they’re for it, right?”). He also has not cosponsored the Green New Deal for Cities Act.

During the latest election cycle, Jeffries joined forces with one of the most corporate and vitriolic anti-progressive Democrats in the House, Josh Gottheimer, to form Team Blue PAC. Its priority – to protect the party’s incumbents against Squad-like primary challengers – was summed up last winter in a Rolling Stone headline over an article about Jeffries’s initiative: “Top House Democrat Unveils Plan to Beat Back Progressive Rebellion.”

Last year, The American Prospect reported, Jeffries was conspicuously absent from efforts to support public housing in his home city. “When all [other] New York City House Democrats sent a letter to Pelosi urging her to protect all $80 billion for public housing in the BBB [Build Back Better bill], Jeffries was the only member not to sign that missive, especially surprising given that New York Dems are known to act as a bloc.”

Jeffries is a member of the Congressional Progressive Caucus, the magazine noted, but that affiliation should not be taken at face value: “Jeffries is a mute member of the CPC, the largest caucus in the party, but has recently chosen to ally himself with its more conservative factions. And while the party’s moderate wing has moved left on everything from foreign policy to social welfare, Jeffries has not moved with it.”

In fact, Hakeem Jeffries is thoroughly corporate, As The Intercept reported four years ago, after he won a close race against Rep. Barbara Lee to become chair of the House Democratic Caucus, “Jeffries is heavily backed by big money and corporate PACs. Less than 2 percent of his fundraising comes from small donors, who contribute less than $200, according to Federal Election Commission records.”

While in his fourth term, “Jeffries was the leading congressional recipient of hedge fund money in 2020,” The American Prospect reported last year. “He banked $1.1 million from the financial sector, real estate interests, and insurance industry in the 2019–2020 cycle. Everyone from JPMorgan Chase to Goldman Sachs to Blackstone contributed. Zimmer Partners, a hedge fund, is one of Jeffries’s top donors in 2021. From the outset, he has governed with those interests at heart. While Democrats were reconsidering their coziness with Wall Street, he broke ranks to vote with the financial services world, including on a high-profile measure literally written by Citigroup lobbyists in 2013 that killed the Dodd-Frank ‘swaps push-out’ rule, allowing banks to engage in risky trades backed by a potential taxpayer-funded bailout.”

Thirty years younger than the outgoing speaker, Jeffries is a fitting symbol of media eagerness to herald generational change for Democrats in Congress. But investigative journalist Alexander Sammon has provided an apt sum-up: “Barely in his fifties, Jeffries is young numerically, but aligned with an older mode of Democratic politics, and has repeatedly distanced himself from the younger crop of Democrats that is almost categorically more progressive (and more popular). He’s made a reputation for himself as the party’s future by becoming a foremost representative of its past.”

When a torch passes, we might be glad to “meet the new boss.” But we should discard illusions. That way, hopefully, we don’t get fooled again.

Norman Solomon is the national director of and the executive director of the Institute for Public Accuracy. He is the author of a dozen books including War Made Easy. His next book, War Made Invisible: How America Hides the Human Toll of Its Military Machine, will be published in Spring 2023 by The New Press.

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Abortion protests with various pro-choice slogans on display

“I Was Never Ready For This”: How States Limit Teen Access to Abortion

As abortion access dwindles, America’s “parental-involvement” laws place further restrictions on teenagers — who may need to ask judges for permission to end their pregnancies.

By Lizzie Presser, ProPublica

On a hot Texas morning in 2020, Giselle, who goes by G, slipped her arms into a borrowed blazer, flipped up the nose ring in her septum so it couldn’t be seen and walked into the Coryell County Courthouse. It was the first time she had ever been to court. She was 17, 11 weeks pregnant and already beginning to show. She was going to ask a judge for authorization to seek an abortion. Her lawyer had explained that she needed to prove that she was mature enough to make this decision. G squeezed her lips around her braces, reminding herself not to smile. She didn’t want the judge to see her as a child.

Abortion protests with various pro-choice slogans on display

Because G was a minor, her access to an abortion was governed by the state’s “parental involvement” law. She could have either notified her mother or father and gotten consent, or she could have filed a petition in her home county, asking for what’s known as a judicial-bypass hearing. She had chosen to petition. In the carpeted courtroom, G explained that she didn’t know her father, who was investigated by Child Protective Services after being accused of molesting her when she was a toddler. Though the case was inconclusive and he denies abusing her, he eventually gave up his parental rights. G didn’t trust her mother, whom she viewed as unreliable and volatile. They had bounced among houses and boyfriends for stretches of G’s life. A year before, G packed up her things and left.

When she discovered she was pregnant, she traveled to an abortion clinic in Austin, about 60 miles south of where she lived in Copperas Cove, a city of 37,000 where nearly everyone works on Fort Hood, the nearby military base. The clinic referred her to Jane’s Due Process, an organization that helps minors navigate judicial bypass. Ten days later, its staff found G a trained attorney. It took G a week to schedule a ride to meet with the lawyer, who asked about her grades, extracurricular activities, babysitting experience and which birth control method she would use in the future. Then, before her court date was scheduled, the District Court judge assigned to the case recused himself. Although he didn’t say why, many judges choose not to take a case in which they might have to approve an abortion. The clerk needed to book a visiting judge. Altogether, G had spent four weeks trying to get a hearing. And now, on June 18, 2020, four months shy of her 18th birthday, G knew that her future was at this judge’s discretion.

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Julian Assange and our test for freedom

UK Government Deployed 15 Staff On Secret Operation To Seize Julian Assange

New information raises further concerns about the politicization of the WikiLeaks founder’s legal case.

By Matt Kennard, Declassified UK

The British government assigned at least 15 people to the secret operation to seize Julian Assange from the Ecuadorian embassy in London, new information shows.

Julian Assange and our test for freedom

The WikiLeaks founder was given political asylum by Ecuador in 2012, but was never allowed safe passage out of Britain to avoid persecution by the US government.

The Australian journalist has been in Belmarsh maximum security prison for the past three and a half years and faces a potential 175-year sentence after the UK High Court green-lighted his extradition to the US in December 2021.

‘Pelican’ was the secret Metropolitan Police operation to seize Assange from his asylum, which eventually occurred in April 2019. Asylum is a right enshrined in the Universal Declaration of Human Rights.

The operation’s existence was only revealed in the memoirs of former foreign minister Sir Alan Duncan which were published last year. The UK government routinely blocks, or obfuscates its answers to, information requests about the Assange case.

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bullets and money

Furious With Biden, Europe Says US Is Profiting Off Ukraine War

Officials are unhappy with the Inflation Reduction Act and its subsidies that could drive investment out of Europe

By Dave DeCamp,

High-level European officials are furious with the Biden administration and are now accusing the US of profiting from the war in Ukraine while Europe is facing a potential energy crisis.

bullets and money

In comments to POLITICO, a senior EU official said, “The fact is, if you look at it soberly, the country that is most profiting from this war is the US because they are selling more gas and at higher prices, and because they are selling more weapons.”

The US-led sanctions campaign on Russia has backfired on Europe as it has ratcheted up energy prices to the point where Europeans may face blackouts this winter. On top of the energy situation, European leaders also fear they will lose out on investments due to unprecedented subsidies included in the US’s Inflation Reduction Act, which President Biden signed into law in August.

The Inflation Reduction Act includes $369 billion in subsidies and tax breaks for green businesses, incentivizing companies to invest in the US instead of Europe. European leaders have publicly criticized the US for the legislation and are considering subsidies of their own, signaling the beginning of a new trade war.

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pro diplomacy activist

Biden Sides With Trump In Killing Obama’s Iran Nuclear Deal

“The Islamic Republic has no ambition to build a nuclear bomb but would find it a useful deterrent—and who wouldn’t with Israel next door?—were it to develop the capacity to build one.”

By Patrick Lawrence, ScheerPost

Among our mentally impaired president’s more prominent campaign pledges during the 2020 political campaigns was that his national security people would negotiate America’s return to the multi-sided accord governing Iran’s nuclear programs. Without hesitation, I offered excellent odds that this would stand tall in Joe Biden’s forest of broken promises. It was a wager I truly did not want to win.

And now it seems I have.

pro diplomacy activist

Events over the past several weeks, in the U.S. and in Israel, indicate strongly that the Biden administration has decided to drop all notion of reviving the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action, the JCPOA, as the 2015 agreement is called. In effect, Biden will hold to the position Donald Trump took when he pulled the U.S. out of the pact in 2018.

This brings us straight back to those dangerous years when recklessly risky covert operations in the Islamic Republic and the threat of open conflict were the norm. But what is a little more existential peril when Washington is all but directly confronting the world’s most heavily nuclearized nation by way of a wildly irresponsible regime located on Russia’s doorstep? I suppose we can look at it this way.

I knew all along I had made a safe bet on the fate of the Iran accord. Given the way Biden has operated over his half-century career, if he says he is going to do something it is a fairly good sign he has no intention of doing it. And there seemed to me no way an American pol so deep in the Israelis’ pocket would take any step that would displease the apartheid state’s savagely anti–Iran leadership.

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nuclear power

Nuclear Power Is Still All About The Bombs

Why civilian nuclear power is merely a cover for producing more nuclear weapons.

By Alfred Meyer, The Progressive Magazine

The Zaporizhzhia Nuclear Power Station in southeastern Ukraine, Europe’s largest nuclear power plant, has the world’s attention right now, and rightly so. For the first time in history, six nuclear reactors and thirty-seven years’ worth of high-level nuclear waste are in the middle of a battlefield in an active war zone—one artillery shell, on site or off, could interrupt the control and cooling of the operational reactor, or the cooling of the waste in storage, leading to a catastrophic release of radiation that could spread throughout the Northern Hemisphere. How in the world can nuclear power reactors be considered clean and safe sources of electricity?

nuclear power

Russia, a nuclear-armed nation that invaded Ukraine on February 24, 2022, has said that it would use nuclear weapons if needed. And strong allies of Ukraine—the United States, the United Kingdom, and France, all NATO members—are also armed with nuclear weapons.

You likely are aware of what has happened in the weeks since this magazine went to press, and whether or not the world is in the midst of another major radioactive disaster, as happened at Fukushima in Japan in 2011, Chernobyl in northern Ukraine in 1986, and Three Mile Island in the United States in 1979. I assume that if you are reading this, nuclear weapons have not been used in the war in Ukraine. So how has the world ended up in such an existentially threatening situation? Why does the nuclear enterprise have the world’s future so tightly in its grip?

The short answer: nuclear weapons. It is all about the bomb.

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covid-19 patient in hospital on breathing machine

Hospital Billing Is A Crime Against American Patients

A visit to a hospital in Europe is an eye-opener to the many ways monopolized U.S. hospitals pad their profits with unnecessary costs.

By Robert Kuttner, The American Prospect

Last month, I experienced some symptoms that mimicked a possible heart attack. It turned out to be a false alarm, and I’m fine. But taking no chances, we headed for the emergency department at the American Hospital of Paris, where I’ve been living this fall. I got a complete workup: a full physical, cardiogram, blood tests, a scan to check for possible clots, and a consultation with doctors. The care was efficient and superb. It all took less than four hours.

covid-19 patient in hospital on breathing machine

At the end of the visit, when I was pronounced in good health, I was presented with the bill: 875.57 euros, or about $890 at prevailing exchange rates. At a good hospital in the U.S., the bill would have been at least $10,000, maybe double that, mostly paid by insurance.

The visit to the ER alone, before a single test was done or care was provided, would have been billed at more than the total cost of my workup in France. In the U.S., the average ER “facility” charge is $1,201.

My visit was such a bargain compared with standard billing practice at U.S. hospitals that I wondered if I was somehow being subsidized by the French medical system. So I sought out one of France’s leading experts on hospital financing and comparative hospital systems, Dr. Isabelle Durand-Zaleski, who is both a professor at the University of Paris and a practicing physician.

Dr. Durand-Zaleski reviewed my bill, which was conveniently displayed in a single page with clear line items. She confirmed that these were the hospital’s actual costs, and the identical bill would have been sent to the French social security system, had I been a French citizen. And, bien sûr, the French citizen would have paid nothing out of pocket.

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