Sunday 06 February 2011
Members of the Palestinian National Security Forces patrol in Hebron, West Bank, on Jan. 28, 2011. Both Hamas in
Gaza City - Ripple effects of the Egyptian uprising are now spreading to Gaza, where some groups are planning a new rally next week. Moves by some Gazans to mimic protesters in
Government officials sponsored an official rally in solidarity with the Egyptian protesters earlier, but when a small group of journalists and bloggers organized their own, six women and eight men were arrested. Two of the women, known for their outspoken criticism of the regime, were beaten up.
"I found out about the rally through Facebook, and it said the sit-in was in support of the Egyptian people in their revolution. I wanted to be part of something, to help the Egyptian people somehow," recalls Mahmoud, afraid to give his full name.
"The government had already held a big demonstration on Friday, and most of the movements joined it, but most youth don’t belong to any faction here. I didn’t want to be part of that. I wanted to do something from me."
Mahmoud describes what happened when he arrived at the Square of the Unknown Soldier, where most demonstrations are held in
Mahmoud believes he was not beaten because a relative works for the government. Several hours later, after being blindfolded and interrogated, he was released. His telephone was confiscated and only returned two days later.
On Jan. 28, a Facebook page appeared calling for a revolution in
Despite the beatings and arrests of the bloggers who demonstrated, Samah Ahmad el-Rawagh - a trainer for a human rights organization and youth activist - says she will participate in the Feb. 11 protest.
"I’m not playing an organizational role in this activity, but I have no problem participating to express my opinion. All of our lives, we have known our enemy is one – the Israeli occupation. But now we have two enemies, the Israeli occupation and the separation between Gaza Strip and the West Bank. Our demand is to end this separation and set a date for elections, to give us our right as youths to vote and choose the leadership that will represent us.
"What happened before won’t scare us away. I believe the youth are able to make change and we’re a youth community; we are more than the half of the population. It is up to us."
But while the outcome of such protests is uncertain, what is certain is the difficulties residents of the
With insecurity and violence across
According to Mahmoud al-Shawa, president of the board of directors of the Palestinian Energy and Natural Resources Authority in the Strip, Gaza needs 800,000 litres of diesel (200,000 for the main power station) and 300,000 litres of petrol daily. Only half of that requirement was available even before the Egyptian uprising.
"One litre of diesel (from
Noting that the authority has had to ration petrol to the Strip’s 29 stations to stop panic buying, as well as to control prices, al-Shawa said he is particularly worried about Gaza’s hospitals, orphanages and vital enterprises such as bakeries and chicken farms.
"We have a big problem, and I am asking the world and
Until Jan. 30, the Rafah crossing between
When Dr. Ghaza Hamad, chief manager of
"There are thousands of people who can’t leave
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Judge says jail for Bush whistle-blower protector
By NEDRA PICKLER
WASHINGTON (AP) - The former head of a whistle-blower protection office under President George W. Bush must spend at least a month in jail, according to a ruling by a federal judge that could threaten to derail the ex-official's plea deal.
Scott Bloch, who headed the Office of Special Counsel, pleaded to a misdemeanor charge of criminal contempt of Congress in April 2010. That plea, U.S. Magistrate Judge Deborah Robinson said in an opinion late Wednesday, requires a sentence of "imprisonment in a common jail for not less than one month." She rejected arguments from prosecutors and defense lawyers that she has the discretion to impose a lower sentence and that other defendants who have pleaded guilty to the charge got probation, including baseball star Miguel Tejada last year.
Bloch admitted withholding information from House investigators about having private technicians "scrub" computer files used by political appointees at the Office of Special Counsel in December 2006.
Bloch was to be sentenced Thursday, but Robinson postponed that until Monday because of her ruling. It's one of many delays in sentencing since Bloch's plea because of the jail time issue.
"The court finds that no authority supports the requests of counsel that the court either interpret the sentencing provision as discretionary, or, alternatively, disregard the provision," Robinson wrote. "The court therefore declines the invitation to do so."
Bloch's lawyer, William Sullivan, expressed disappointment with the ruling, but said he was "gratified that the government supported our position that the statute does not require a mandatory sentence, and we will continue to pursue a just resolution to this matter."
Watchdog groups had criticized the plan for probation, writing to Robinson to argue that Bloch serve jail time.
Office of Special Counsel
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"The master class has always declared the wars; the subject class has always fought the battles. The master class has had all to gain and nothing to lose, while the subject class has had nothing to gain and everything to lose--especially their lives." Eugene Victor Debs