Thursday, February 24, 2005

Off Duty U.S. Customs Officer shoots unarmed 19-year old Arab-American

Off Duty U.S. Customs officer shoots unarmed 19-year old Arab-American in head and face. Authorities state that officer committed no wrong-doing and did not even book him for questioning.
This incident happened about 15 minutes from my house in the Madrid apartment complex in Mission Viejo, CA on Feb 5, 2005.
As far as a political discussion, this would probably fall under the same category as Amadou Diallo Case, and Abner Louima in an example of law enforcement brutality bordering on outright criminality.
Here are the relevant facts: Early in the morning on Saturday February the 6th around 1:30 am, Bassim Chmait along with three other friends were walking through an apartment complex heading towards a college house party. As they were walking through the apartment complex one oo the neighbors threw a soda can at them from above. In frustration, one of the young boys threw the can into the street, and continued walking down the pathway of the apartment heading to the party. At that point Douglas Bates, an off duty U.S. Custom's officer, left his home with his badge in hand and gun drawn confronting the group of 4 to 6 friends. . . he started to yell at them, and when the group of boys turned around, they saw the provoker yelling at them about laughing and being too loud, he was heading towards them pointing his gun a them with a badge in the other hand, yelling "You don't want to f**k with a cop, do you?" Apparently he was upset at the noise and commotion. Mr. Bates then pistol whipped one member of the group. The aggressor was an off duty border patrol/homeland security officer who was not in uniform, his name is Douglas Bates. The four unarmed boys were questioning him, asking why he was pointing his gun at them and begging him to put it down. One of the four boys that were there kept asking the gunman to stop pointing the barrel of the gun in his friends direction. Because of that, the aggressor pistol-whipped his friend on the forehead w/ the gun. Anticipating that the provoker was going to hit his friend again Chmait Bassim got in front of his friends telling the man to please put the gun down. Almost instantly the off duty cop shot Bassim in the head and face by Douglas Bates. After shooting Bassim, Mr. Bates simply walked back into his apartment. While friends were screaming about what happened to Bassim, neighbors dialed 911. About 5 minutes later the murderer opened his door, with the gun still in hand and yelled at neighbors to shut up, and he want back inside his apartment. This story comes straight from four witnesses, and neighbors that were there when the murder took place, they saw and heard everything that occurred that night.

That's from "Off Duty U.S. Customs officer shoots unarmed 19-year old Arab-American in head and face" by CA and it can be found at DC Indymedia. And we can thank Martha for sending that in. [E-mail address for this site is]

Yes, it's Thursday and that means it's time for our independent media review.

Santa Cruz Indymedia has "39 Cities on the California Coast Call for Peace" which contains photos and audio links to protests from Feb. 19th. So please check out this piece by Ann Simonton and Vinny Lombardo.

To highlight another audio link (e-mailed to this site by Liang), Madison Wisconsin Independent Media Center has "Nepal Journalist Describes Censorship in Nepal" by Norm Stockwell and Stephen Mikesell. I realize that some will not be able to listen, so here's an excerpt of their description of the interview:

Following a movement for democracy in 1980 and creation of a parliamentary monarchy, Nepal developed the most free press in Asia. The first community radio stations in South Asia were also established in this period, and within a decade the country was developing a rich culture of community radio, both in the cities and the countryside. This radical departure from the state-controlled media characterizing the rest of South Asia made for a wide-ranging and vibrant discussion of ideas, viewpoints and ideologies that would set the US corporate press to shame.
This was all taking place within the context of IMF-directed privatization of social resources that coincided with the commencement of democracy and a guerrilla insurgency that started in 1996 in Western Nepal and gradually spread throughout the country. State control of the all except for district headquarters and the capital city had all but collapsed and the mainstream political parties, which were intent only on winning control of the government in fighting among themselves, gave up the democratic prerogatives one by one in attempt to gain advantage while further strengthening the monarchy by going to it to mediate their disputes. Local government was dissolved, the parliament was dissolved, and finally the king dissolved the government as well and appointed the prime minister and cabinet from parties willing for the him to do this as long as the received seats in the parliament.
In this context of inter- and intra-party fighting and indecision, on February 1, 2005, the king of Nepal mobilized the military to disband what semblance of democratic institutions remained and took over direct rule of the country.
[There's more at the site, from the intro, but hopefully that was enough to interest those who are able to listen.]

Also please take time to read "AUSTRALIAN PEACE ACTIVIST ON TRIAL IN IRELAND" by Pit Stop Ploughshares from Melbourne Indymedia:

They're on Trial for Us, We're on the Streets for Them!

The trial of Australian peace activist Ciaron O'Reilly begins on his 45th. birthday March 7th. in the Dublin Four Courts. O'Reilly has spent the last two years on bail with four co-defendants charged with $U.S.2million criminal damage to a U.S. Navy War Plane at Shannon Airport (3/2/03) The five pacifist Catholic Workers awaiting trial are known in Ireland as the "Pit Stop Ploughshares". Their claim that the civilian Shannon Airport in County Clare has been transformed into a militarised pit stop for the U.S. war machine occupying Iraq is shared by much of the general population.

Krista e-mails this from Oklahoma Independent Media Center, a story on Camilo Mejia by Rena ("Camilo Mejia freed from Oklahoma Army prison"):

Camilo Mejia was sentenced to one year in an Oklahoma Army prison for "desertion" when he refused to continue to participate in a war he felt was immoral. His release was celebrated by dozens of local activists who were notified of his low-key re-entry into "normal" life.
[. . .]
On February 15, Camilo Mejia was released from the prison at Ft. Sill, Oklahoma, where he had been incarcerated since last June. He was welcomed by members of his family, including his mother, aunt and 5-year-old daughter. The family met with Oklahoma peace activists for a celebratory dinner before going on to Miami, where Camilo will take up residence to be near his daughter (he and her mother are divorced).
Camilo, who holds dual citizenship in Nicaragua and Costa Rico, was a centering and calming influence on the crowd, many of whom expressed concern about how the US government will address his lack of citizenship here. The family had refrained from making any kind of media event out of the release, prefering to give Camilo time to adjust, and to avoid precipitating any adverse reaction by authorities. The dinner was held at Church of the Open Arms in Oklahoma City, a UCC church were many peace-related activities occur. Attenders represented a wide cross-section of the peace and justice community in the Oklahoma City area, and included Mennonites, Quakers and Catholics, as well as non-religious organizations.

From Atlanta Independent Media Center, "2005 Taco Bell Truth Tour- Atlanta" by Shafik Alvarez. Since Shafik Alvarez is attempting to increase awareness and turnout, I'm treating this as a press release and posting it in full:

The Atlanta CIW collective will be holding the 2005 Taco Bell Truth Tour Atlanta on Monday, February 28th and Tuesday, March 1st.
Farm workers who pick tomatoes for Taco Bell and Yum! Brands work in sweatshop conditions, earning 40-45 cents for every 32 pound bucket they pick. Join Florida farmworkers and their allies in Atlanta to tell Taco Bell, and its parent company Yum! Brands, that they must stop profiting from exploitation. A film screening will be held on Monday February 28th at 6pm at Georgia State University and on Tuesday, March 1st following a rally at Unity Plaza at GSU from 12:00 - 1:00, the group will assemble in front of Taco Bell downtown at 63 Broad Street. For more information, the number to call is 404 588 9761.
End Sweatshops in the field TODAY!!!
Contact information Janvieve Williams C 404 588 9761

Taking a moment to check in our Australian friend Luke who blogs at wotisgood4, we find an incredible post entitled "looking for a good cowboy" which provides a better summary of the news for February 22nd than anything I've seen. (This could be a script for a wonderful Headline News.) An excerpt:

* "Scott Ritter, appearing with journalist Dahr Jamail yesterday in Washington State, dropped two shocking bombshells in a talk delivered to a packed house in Olympia’s Capitol Theater. The ex-Marine turned UNSCOM weapons inspector said that George W. Bush has "signed off" on plans to bomb Iran in June 2005, and claimed the U.S. manipulated the results of the recent Jan. 30 elections in Iraq." scott is about the only guy not yet tainted. if he is correct, i guess the good news is that the next war wont happen for a few months - which is good news for those who will die. i guess.
* amongst the war noise, does anyone remember they faked brit torture pix which destroyed piers morgan at the mirror? and now the aclu bring out another 1000 pages of torture dox. in afghan and iraq? is piers vindicated in his unemployedness? thou shalt not question the empire.
* "There currently are about 155,000 U.S. troops in Iraq, according to the U.S. military command in Baghdad. That is the highest number of the entire war, including the initial invasion."
* oz to add 450 trrops to iraq. i think that is about double? if only that other bloke who lost the election had not decided to ignore the war....MEDIA
* in a curious twist, the oz health minister who has recently called for abortion laws to be 're-evaluated' has just discovered his adopted-out son. lots of media coverage. fancy that. the story is too creepy to follow - but it looks totally managed (i wont venture that it is fabricated) - there were coverstories in weekly media the day the story broke. somewhat curiously, they are only using one still picture of the son, on his wedding day (and he is grimacing/faking a smile). i cant bear to watch the media to see if it actually mentions his anti-abortion crusade - but i dont think so - meanwhile the story about his lost son is for some reason the # 1 or 2 story for 24 hours... f**k i hate the media. broken broken. and the media is showing old pix of him showing how handsome he was as a youngster - presumably justifying his behaviour) foul foul. (the same guy was also on tv lying thru his teeth in the week prior to the election denying that he had met the head of the catholic church a few days earlier)

And Brady asks that we pay attention to this:

On 16 February 2005, the Kyoto Protocol came into effect, legally binding most industrialised countries to greenhouse gas emission reductions by 2012. On the same day 35 Greenpeace activists halted trading on the global oil market by occupying the International Petroleum Exchange in London, and disrupting the trading - there were 27 approx arrests [audio report]. The Kyoto treaty was agreed in 1997, but has since been watered down by special provisions and has been often criticised as being too little, too late, and for promoting potentially damaging practices.
Later in the evening more activists blockaded and disrupted the oil industry's most prestigious annual gathering in a Park Lane hotel in London, complete with a banner reading "Climate Change Kills - Oil Industry Parties". There were also actions and events around the world - see global reports and pics. Recently (on 25th January) the Greenpeace Business Lecture itself a target of climate campaigners when the 'Greenwash Guerrillas' from London Rising Tide protested against what they called they Greenwash of Shell's Chairman, Lord Oxburgh [see report and pics].

That's from "Oil Trading Exchange Occupied As Kyoto Becomes Law" and you can find it at UK Indymedia.