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News :: Media : Palestine
MBTA Removes Pro-Palestinian Ads in Boston Without Notifying NGO
10 Jul 2014
BOSTON, MA, 10 July 2014 – Boston’s transit authority, the MBTA, has removed advertisements highlighting Israeli human rights abuses against Palestinians from Boston’s subway transit system under pressure from pro-Israel groups and in an apparent violation of its own policies.
Boston-based non-profit Ads Against Apartheid (AAA), which sponsored the ad campaign, believes the MBTA’s action is a violation of it’s right to freedom of speech. Sarah Wunsch of the American Civil Liberties Union of Massachusetts (ACLU) said that the organization will support AAA’s efforts to get the advertisements back up.

AAA says the MBTA did not notify it that the ads had been removed. The removal took place on Thursday, June 23. As of this writing, the MBTA has not offered an official explanation as to why the contract had been terminated early.

An official working closely with the MBTA told AAA by telephone that the ads were likely removed because they were found to be “demeaning to the state of Israel.” Richard Colbath-Hess, Jewish co-founder of Ads Against Apartheid, emphasized that the ads criticize the behavior of the the Israeli government, not any national group or individual.

“We’ve asked for an official reason why the ads were removed but have yet to be given one,” said AAA president and co-founder, Chadi Salamoun. “It’s been two weeks. You’d think we would have been told two weeks ago.

The MBTA had previously approved the advertisements after a lengthy review process, which presented facts – sourced primarily from United Nations reports – challenging the idea that Israel is committed to peace. They were on display for more than half of a month before they were removed without notice.

“There is certainly a double standard here. Our ads present facts cited by respectable institutions,” argues Salamoun. “The MBTA has allowed anti-Palestinian groups to display opinionated messages that border on hate-speech,” he said in reference to a pro-Israel ad that the American Freedom Defense Initiative sponsored in early 2014, which sought to draw a contrast between what it called “the civilized man” and “those engaged in savage acts,” clearly implying that Palestinians comprise the latter.

“If an ad can be removed for being ‘demeaning’ and ‘subjective,’ then why weren’t these ads removed?” wonders Colbath-Hess. “Aren’t they demeaning to Palestinians? The MBTA can’t use its position to give voice to the Israeli position while silencing ads that highlight human rights abuses that the Israeli government commits daily.”

“I’m Jewish,” he continues. “And, I don’t support Israeli apartheid.”

“We’re going to continue to publish ads that educate Americans on the impact of Israeli apartheid on Palestinian lives,” says Salamoun. “If the MBTA, a public institution, allows opinionated criticism of Palestinians but disallows factual ads critical of the Israeli government, then we see that as a fairly clear violation of our right to free speech, and we certainly plan to defend our Constitutional rights.”

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The Return of George Orwell and Big Brother’s War
11 Jul 2014
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On Israel, Ukraine and Truth by JOHN PILGER

The other night, I saw George Orwells’s 1984 performed on the London stage. Although crying out for a contemporary interpretation, Orwell’s warning about the future was presented as a period piece: remote, unthreatening, almost reassuring. It was as if Edward Snowden had revealed nothing, Big Brother was not now a digital eavesdropper and Orwell himself had never said, “To be corrupted by totalitarianism, one does not have to live in a totalitarian country.”

Acclaimed by critics, the skilful production was a measure of our cultural and political times. When the lights came up, people were already on their way out. They seemed unmoved, or perhaps other distractions beckoned. “What a mindfuck,” said the young woman, lighting up her phone.

As advanced societies are de-politicised, the changes are both subtle and spectacular. In everyday discourse, political language is turned on its head, as Orwell prophesised in 1984. “Democracy” is now a rhetorical device. Peace is “perpetual war”. “Global” is imperial. The once hopeful concept of “reform” now means regression, even destruction. “Austerity” is the imposition of extreme capitalism on the poor and the gift of socialism for the rich: an ingenious system under which the majority service the debts of the few.

In the arts, hostility to political truth-telling is an article of bourgeois faith. “Picasso’s red period,” says an Observer headline, “and why politics don’t make good art.” Consider this in a newspaper that promoted the bloodbath in Iraq as a liberal crusade. Picasso’s lifelong opposition to fascism is a footnote, just as Orwell’s radicalism has faded from the prize that appropriated his name.

A few years ago, Terry Eagleton, then professor of English literature at Manchester University, reckoned that “for the first time in two centuries, there is no eminent British poet, playwright or novelist prepared to question the foundations of the western way of life”. No Shelley speaks for the poor, no Blake for utopian dreams, no Byron damns the corruption of the ruling class, no Thomas Carlyle and John Ruskin reveal the moral disaster of capitalism. William Morris, Oscar Wilde, HG Wells, George Bernard Shaw have no equivalents today. Harold Pinter was the last to raise his voice. Among the insistent voices of consumer- feminism, none echoes Virginia Woolf, who described “the arts of dominating other people … of ruling, of killing, of acquiring land and capital”.

At the National Theatre, a new play, Great Britain, satirises the phone hacking scandal that has seen journalists tried and convicted, including a former editor of Rupert Murdoch’s News of the World. Described as a “farce with fangs [that] puts the whole incestuous [media] culture in the dock and subjects it to merciless ridicule”, the play’s targets are the “blessedly funny” characters in Britain’s tabloid press. That is well and good, and so familiar. What of the non-tabloid media that regards itself as reputable and credible, yet serves a parallel role as an arm of state and corporate power, as in the promotion of illegal war?

The Leveson inquiry into phone hacking glimpsed this unmentionable. Tony Blair was giving evidence, complaining to His Lordship about the tabloids’ harassment of his wife, when he was interrupted by a voice from the public gallery. David Lawley-Wakelin, a film-maker, demanded Blair’s arrest and prosecution for war crimes. There was a long pause: the shock of truth. Lord Leveson leapt to his feet and ordered the truth-teller thrown out and apologised to the war criminal. Lawley-Wakelin was prosecuted; Blair went free.

Blair’s enduring accomplices are more respectable than the phone hackers. When the BBC arts presenter, Kirsty Wark, interviewed him on the tenth anniversary of his invasion of Iraq, she gifted him a moment he could only dream of; she allowed him to agonise over his “difficult” decision on Iraq rather than call him to account for his epic crime. This evoked the procession of BBC journalists who in 2003 declared that Blair could feel “vindicated”, and the subsequent, “seminal” BBC series, The Blair Years, for which David Aaronovitch was chosen as the writer, presenter and interviewer. A Murdoch retainer who campaigned for military attacks on Iraq, Libya and Syria, Aaronovitch fawned expertly.

Since the invasion of Iraq – the exemplar of an act of unprovoked aggression the Nuremberg prosecutor Robert Jackson called “the supreme international crime differing only from other war crimes in that it contains within itself the accumulated evil of the whole” — Blair and his mouthpiece and principal accomplice, Alastair Campbell, have been afforded generous space in the Guardian to rehabilitate their reputations. Described as a Labour Party “star”, Campbell has sought the sympathy of readers for his depression and displayed his interests, though not his current assignment as advisor, with Blair, to the Egyptian military tyranny.

As Iraq is dismembered as a consequence of the Blair/Bush invasion, a Guardian headline declares: “Toppling Saddam was right, but we pulled out too soon”. This ran across a prominent article on 13 June by a former Blair functionary, John McTernan, who also served Iraq’s CIA installed dictator Iyad Allawi. In calling for a repeat invasion of a country his former master helped destroy , he made no reference to the deaths of at least 700,000 people, the flight of four million refugees and sectarian turmoil in a nation once proud of its communal tolerance.

“Blair embodies corruption and war,” wrote the radical Guardian columnist Seumas Milne in a spirited piece on 3 July. This is known in the trade as “balance”. The following day, the paper published a full-page advertisement for an American Stealth bomber. On a menacing image of the bomber were the words: “The F-35. GREAT For Britain”. This other embodiment of “corruption and war” will cost British taxpayers £1.3 billion, its F-model predecessors having slaughtered people across the developing world.

In a village in Afghanistan, inhabited by the poorest of the poor, I filmed Orifa, kneeling at the graves of her husband, Gul Ahmed, a carpet weaver, seven other members of her family, including six children, and two children who were killed in the adjacent house. A “precision” 500-pound bomb fell directly on their small mud, stone and straw house, leaving a crater 50 feet wide. Lockheed Martin, the plane’s manufacturer’s, had pride of place in the Guardian’s advertisement.

The former US secretary of state and aspiring president of the United States, Hillary Clinton, was recently on the BBC’s Women’s Hour, the quintessence of media respectability. The presenter, Jenni Murray, presented Clinton as a beacon of female achievement. She did not remind her listeners about Clinton’s profanity that Afghanistan was invaded to “liberate” women like Orifa. She asked Clinton nothing about her administration’s terror campaign using drones to kill women, men and children. There was no mention of Clinton’s idle threat, while campaigning to be the first female president, to “eliminate” Iran, and nothing about her support for illegal mass surveillance and the pursuit of whistle-blowers.

Murray did ask one finger-to-the-lips question. Had Clinton forgiven Monica Lewinsky for having an affair with husband? “Forgiveness is a choice,” said Clinton, “for me, it was absolutely the right choice.” This recalled the 1990s and the years consumed by the Lewinsky “scandal”. President Bill Clinton was then invading Haiti, and bombing the Balkans, Africa and Iraq. He was also destroying the lives of Iraqi children; Unicef reported the deaths of half a million Iraqi infants under the age of five as a result of an embargo led by the US and Britain.

The children were media unpeople, just as Hillary Clinton’s victims in the invasions she supported and promoted – Afghanistan, Iraq, Yemen, Somalia — are media unpeople. Murray made no reference to them. A photograph of her and her distinguished guest, beaming, appears on the BBC website.

In politics as in journalism and the arts, it seems that dissent once tolerated in the “mainstream” has regressed to a dissidence: a metaphoric underground. When I began a career in Britain’s Fleet Street in the 1960s, it was acceptable to critique western power as a rapacious force. Read James Cameron’s celebrated reports of the explosion of the Hydrogen bomb at Bikini Atoll, the barbaric war in Korea and the American bombing of North Vietnam. Today’s grand illusion is of an information age when, in truth, we live in a media age in which incessant corporate propaganda is insidious, contagious, effective and liberal.

In his 1859 essay On Liberty, to which modern liberals pay homage, John Stuart Mill wrote: “Despotism is a legitimate mode of government in dealing with barbarians, provided the end be their improvement, and the means justified by actually effecting that end.” The “barbarians” were large sections of humanity of whom “implicit obedience” was required. “It’s a nice and convenient myth that liberals are peacemakers and conservatives the warmongers,” wrote the historian Hywel Williams in 2001, “but the imperialism of the liberal way may be more dangerous because of its open-ended nature: its conviction that it represents a superior form of life.” He had in mind a speech by Blair in which the then prime minister promised to “reorder the world around us” according to his “moral values”.

Richard Falk, the respected authority on international law and the UN Special Rapporteur on Palestine, once described a “a self-righteous, one-way, legal/moral screen [with] positive images of western values and innocence portrayed as threatened, validating a campaign of unrestricted political violence”. It is “so widely accepted as to be virtually unchallengeable”.

Tenure and patronage reward the guardians. On BBC Radio 4, Razia Iqbal interviewed Toni Morrison, the African-American Nobel Laureate. Morrison wondered why people were “so angry” with Barack Obama, who was “cool” and wished to build a “strong economy and health care”. Morrison was proud to have talked on the phone with her hero, who had read one of her books and invited her to his inauguration.

Neither she nor her interviewer mentioned Obama’s seven wars, including his terror campaign by drone, in which whole families, their rescuers and mourners have been murdered. What seemed to matter was that a “finely spoken” man of colour had risen to the commanding heights of power. In The Wretched of the Earth, Frantz Fanon wrote that the “historic mission” of the colonised was to serve as a “transmission line” to those who ruled and oppressed. In the modern era, the employment of ethnic difference in western power and propaganda systems is now seen as essential. Obama epitomises this, though the cabinet of George W. Bush – his warmongering clique – was the most multiracial in presidential history.

As the Iraqi city of Mosul fell to the jihadists of ISIS, Obama said, “The American people made huge investments and sacrifices in order to give Iraqis the opportunity to chart a better destiny.” How “cool” is that lie? How “finely spoken” was Obama’s speech at the West Point military academy on 28 May. Delivering his “state of the world” address at the graduation ceremony of those who “will take American leadership” across the world, Obama said, “The United States will use military force, unilaterally if necessary, when our core interests demand it. International opinion matters, but America will never ask permission …”

In repudiating international law and the rights of independent nations, the American president claims a divinity based on the might of his “indispensable nation”. It is a familiar message of imperial impunity, though always bracing to hear. Evoking the rise of fascism in the 1930s, Obama said, “I believe in American exceptionalism with every fibre of my being.” Historian Norman Pollack wrote: “For goose-steppers, substitute the seemingly more innocuous militarisation of the total culture. And for the bombastic leader, we have the reformer manqué, blithely at work, planning and executing assassination, smiling all the while.”

In February, the US mounted one of its “colour” coups against the elected government in Ukraine, exploiting genuine protests against corruption in Kiev. Obama’s national security adviser Victoria Nuland personally selected the leader of an “interim government”. She nicknamed him “Yats”. Vice President Joe Biden came to Kiev, as did CIA Director John Brennan. The shock troops of their putsch were Ukrainian fascists.

For the first time since 1945, a neo-Nazi, openly anti-Semitic party controls key areas of state power in a European capital. No Western European leader has condemned this revival of fascism in the borderland through which Hitler’s invading Nazis took millions of Russian lives. They were supported by the Ukrainian Insurgent Army (UPA), responsible for the massacre of Jews and Russians they called “vermin”. The UPA is the historical inspiration of the present-day Svoboda Party and its fellow-travelling Right Sector. Svoboda leader Oleh Tyahnybok has called for a purge of the “Moscow-Jewish mafia” and “other scum”, including gays, feminists and those on the political left.

Since the collapse of the Soviet Union, the United States has ringed Russia with military bases, nuclear warplanes and missiles as part of its Nato Enlargement Project. Reneging on a promise made to Soviet President Mikhail Gorbachev in 1990 that Nato would not expand “one inch to the east”, Nato has, in effect, militarily occupied eastern Europe. In the former Soviet Caucasus, Nato’s expansion is the biggest military build-up since the Second World War.

A Nato Membership Action Plan is Washington’s gift to the coup-regime in Kiev. In August, “Operation Rapid Trident” will put American and British troops on Ukraine’s Russian border and “Sea Breeze” will send US warships within sight of Russian ports. Imagine the response if these acts of provocation, or intimidation, were carried out on America’s borders.

In reclaiming Crimea — which Nikita Kruschev illegally detached from Russia in 1954 – the Russians defended themselves as they have done for almost a century. More than 90 per cent of the population of Crimea voted to return the territory to Russia. Crimea is the home of the Black Sea Fleet and its loss would mean life or death for the Russian Navy and a prize for Nato. Confounding the war parties in Washington and Kiev, Vladimir Putin withdrew troops from the Ukrainian border and urged ethnic Russians in eastern Ukraine to abandon separatism.

In Orwellian fashion, this has been inverted in the west to the “Russian threat”. Hillary Clinton likened Putin to Hitler. Without irony, right-wing German commentators said as much. In the media, the Ukrainian neo-Nazis are sanitised as “nationalists” or “ultra nationalists”. What they fear is that Putin is skilfully seeking a diplomatic solution, and may succeed. On 27 June, responding to Putin’s latest accommodation – his request to the Russian Parliament to rescind legislation that gave him the power to intervene on behalf of Ukraine’s ethnic Russians – Secretary of State John Kerry issued another of his ultimatums. Russia must “act within the next few hours, literally” to end the revolt in eastern Ukraine. Notwithstanding that Kerry is widely recognised as a buffoon, the serious purpose of these “warnings” is to confer pariah status on Russia and suppress news of the Kiev regime’s war on its own people.

A third of the population of Ukraine are Russian-speaking and bilingual. They have long sought a democratic federation that reflects Ukraine’s ethnic diversity and is both autonomous and independent of Moscow. Most are neither “separatists” nor “rebels” but citizens who want to live securely in their homeland. Separatism is a reaction to the Kiev junta’s attacks on them, causing as many as 110,000 (UN estimate) to flee across the border into Russia. Typically, they are traumatised women and children.

Like Iraq’s embargoed infants, and Afghanistan’s “liberated” women and girls, terrorised by the CIA’s warlords, these ethnic people of Ukraine are media unpeople in the west, their suffering and the atrocities committed against them minimised, or suppressed. No sense of the scale of the regime’s assault is reported in the mainstream western media. This is not unprecedented. Reading again Phillip Knightley’s masterly The First Casualty: the war correspondent as hero, propagandist and mythmaker, I renewed my admiration for the Manchester Guardian’s Morgan Philips Price, the only western reporter to remain in Russia during the 1917 revolution and report the truth of a disastrous invasion by the western allies. Fair-minded and courageous, Philips Price alone disturbed what Knightley calls an anti-Russian “dark silence” in the west.

On 2 May, in Odessa, 41 ethnic Russians were burned alive in the trade union headquarters with police standing by. There is horrifying video evidence. The Right Sector leader Dmytro Yarosh hailed the massacre as “another bright day in our national history”. In the American and British media, this was reported as a “murky tragedy” resulting from “clashes” between “nationalists” (neo-Nazis) and “separatists” (people collecting signatures for a referendum on a federal Ukraine). The New York Times buried it, having dismissed as Russian propaganda warnings about the fascist and anti-Semitic policies of Washington’s new clients. The Wall Street Journal damned the victims – “Deadly Ukraine Fire Likely Sparked by Rebels, Government Says”. Obama congratulated the junta for its “restraint”.

On 28 June, the Guardian devoted most of a page to declarations by the Kiev regime’s “president”, the oligarch Petro Poroshenko. Again, Orwell’s rule of inversion applied. There was no putsch; no war against Ukraine’s minority; the Russians were to blame for everything. “We want to modernise my country,” said Poroshenko. “We want to introduce freedom, democracy and European values. Somebody doesn’t like that. Somebody doesn’t like us for that.”

According to his report, the Guardian’s reporter, Luke Harding, did not challenge these assertions, or mention the Odessa atrocity, the regime’s air and artillery attacks on residential areas, the killing and kidnapping of journalists, the firebombing of an opposition newspaper and his threat to “free Ukraine from dirt and parasites”. The enemy are “rebels”, “militants”, “insurgents”, “terrorists” and stooges of the Kremlin. Summon from history the ghosts of Vietnam, Chile, East Timor, southern Africa, Iraq; note the same tags. Palestine is the lodestone of this unchanging deceit. On 11 July, following the latest Israeli, American equipped slaughter in Gaza – 80 people including six children in one family — an Israeli general writes in the Guardian under the headline, “A necessary show of force”.

In the 1970s, I met Leni Riefenstahl and asked her about her films that glorified the Nazis. Using revolutionary camera and lighting techniques, she produced a documentary form that mesmerised Germans; it was her Triumph of the Will that reputedly cast Hitler’s spell. I asked her about propaganda in societies that imagined themselves superior. She replied that the “messages” in her films were dependent not on “orders from above” but on a “submissive void” in the German population. “Did that include the liberal, educated bourgeoisie?” I asked. “Everyone,” she replied, “and of course the intelligentsia.”

John Pilger is the author of Freedom Next Time. All his documentary films can be viewed free on his website
Re: MBTA Removes Pro-Palestinian Ads in Boston Without Notifying NGO
11 Jul 2014
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What, pray tell, is the difference between “savages” and “those engaged in savage acts”? That is the question to which only the MBTA knows the answer. And I am not so sure that even they know ….

We have just filed a follow-up lawsuit in our continuing legal fight against the MBTA for its arbitrary and absurd violation of out First Amendment freedoms. City, state and federal government have lost sight of their duty, to protect and defend our Constitutional freedoms. Instead, they seem more intent on enforcing the blasphemy laws under the sharia (“do not criticize Islam.”)
We sued the MBTA for refusing our pro-Israel ad (above) that stated: “In any war between the civilized man and the savage, support the civilized man. Support Israel, Defeat Jihad,” while allowing pro-jihad ads against Israel to run. That case is ongoing. Our first hearing was predictable. U.S. District Court Judge Nathaniel Gorton ruled against us in our preliminary injunction against Boston’s Massachusetts Bay Transit Authority (MBTA). No surprise there: during our hearing Judge Gorton said that he did not have the authority to rule on matters out of his jurisdiction. Still, Gorton dropped the ball on the question of “reasonableness.”

In the interest of “reasonableness,” we tweaked our ad. It read, “In any war between the civilized man and the those engaged in savage acts, support the civilized man. Defeat Violent Jihad. Support Israel.”

The MBTA rejected this ad, proving yet again how capricious and dangerous these corrupt bureaucrats are. How dare they restrict my speech based on their prejudice and power. Government out of control. So we filed another lawsuit against the MBTA here.

“New MBTA lawsuit focuses on free speech and Israeli-Palestinian conflict,” Boston Business, February 9, 2014 A pro-Israel group whose advertisements equating opposition to Israel with Islamic jihad and suggesting the country’s opponents are savages were rejected by the Massachusetts Bay Transportation Authority sued the quasi-public agency and its top administrator in federal court Friday. The group, the American Freedom Defense Initiative, and two of its leaders cited federal civil rights protections in asking the court to make the MBTA and its head, Beverly Scott, accept the ads and put them at locations that could include transit stations and the sides of buses.

The legal skirmish is the latest in a series of disputes involving the MBTA and ads taking sides in the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. (See the ads in the attached slideshow.) The back-and-forth began last year after the MBTA accepted an ad that includes a series of maps purporting to show Israel’s expansion at the expense of Palestinians over the last 60 years and notes the official “refugee” status of millions of Palestinians.

That ad also has appeared in New York City and Washington D.C. transit systems. In early November, the MBTA’s advertising agency briefly took the posters down amid complaints but restored them within days. The buyer of the map ad was Henry Clifford, a Connecticut retiree who spent much of his career on Wall Street and for the last 15 years has run a group called the Committee for Peace in Israel and Palestine. Clifford said in a telephone interview with the Business Journal Sunday afternoon that his advertisements are neither pro- nor anti-Israel, but acknowledged his critics tend to be pro-Israel and his fans tend to be pro-Palestinian. “We don’t express an opinion,” he said, adding that the committee’s leadership of a dozen members is half Jewish and half Christian.

The leaders of the American Freedom Defense Initiative viewed the map ad differently. Their lawsuit filed Friday calls it “a controversial advertisement that addresses the Israeli/Palestinian conflict by conveying a message and viewpoint that criticizes Israel.” They argue further in the court complaint: “The Anti-Israel advertisement conveys the unmistakable message that Israelis are ‘persecuting’ Palestinians, and as a result of this persecution, are forcing the Palestinians ‘outside the country of [their] nationality.’ In short, the advertisement conveys the unmistakable message that Israelis are war criminals (or violators of international law, at a minimum), thereby demeaning and disparaging Israelis, Israel as a nation, and Jews in general.”

According to its suit filed Friday, the American Freedom Defense Initiative responded to the map ad in late October by seeking to place its own MBTA advertisement stating: “In any war between the civilized man and the savage, support the civilized man. Support Israel. Defeat jihad” The text echoes a phrase by the late author Ayn Rand. Despite the literary reference, the MBTA declined to run the piece. According to a separate court case that is not yet resolved, the MBTA called that ad “demeaning or disparaging.”

Having failed, at least for now, to place that ad, the American Freedom Defense Initiative sought more recently to place a new ad. According to the complaint filed Friday, the new ad stated: “In any war between the civilized man and those engaged in savage acts, support the civilized man. Defeat Violent Jihad. Support Israel.” That copy was approved by the MBTA, the plaintiffs state in their suit. Then, according to the suit, the pro-Israel group sought to revise that approved ad to read:

“In any war between the civilized man and the savage, support the civilized man. Defeat violent jihad. Support Israel.” That third version of the ad, like the first, was rejected by the MBTA or its advertising-placement agency as inappropriate, according to the suit. The suit states: “Defendants’ application of its Advertising Guidelines as a basis to reject AFDI Advertisement III is a pretext to censor Plaintiffs’ message because MBTA officials oppose Plaintiffs’ view on the Israeli / Palestinian conflict.

Moreover, Defendants’ decision to restore the advertisements critical of Israel (the Anti-Israel Advertisement), but then deny AFDI Advertisement III, which supports Israel, was motivated by a discriminatory animus against those speakers who support Israel in this conflict and who believe that Islamic terrorists who murder innocent men, women, and children in Israel in the name of jihad are savages and deserve to be publicly labeled as such.” The plaintiffs argue that they are being denied their rights to free speech, equal protection and due process The suit asks the court to force the MBTA to run the advertisement and to pay the plaintiffs’ attorneys’ fees. The American Freedom Defense Initiative is based in New Hampshire and describes itself in court documents as “an organization that is incorporated under the laws of the State of New Hampshire. AFDI is a human rights organization dedicated to freedom of speech, freedom of conscience, freedom of religion, freedom from religion, and individual rights.” -

See more at:
12 Jul 2014
Modified: 02:55:35 AM
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A man was arrested on Thursday for taking upskirt photos at a Boston T stop.

According to MBTA transit police, a woman noticed Anwar Jaffar, 33, allegedly using his phone to record images up another woman’s skirt as she stood in front of him on an escalator at Downtown Crossing. She then reported him to the police and he was taken into custody.

Jaffar, a Dorchester resident, is scheduled to be arraigned today. Upskirt photos were made illegal in March after a court found that the criminal voyeurism law did not cover photos taken in a public place. In June, 23-year-old Joshua Gonsalves was the first person to be arrested under the new law. He allegedly used an iPad to take the illicit photos.
12 Jul 2014
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BOSTON —Transit police say they have identified a suspect and issued a warrant in the January vandalism of two historic subway cars at Boylston Street Station. Two historic train cars at Boylston Station were vandalized in January.
More The MBTA said one of the antique cars was extensively defaced and another was also tagged.

A warrant for Daniel Nelligan, 25, last known address in Allston, was issued for felony vandalism and trespassing in connection with the incident.

PCC car No. 3295, built in 1951 by the Pullman Standard Car Manufacturing Co. of Worcester, was used at the opening of the Riverside line on July 4, 1959, according to the Boston Street Railway Association.

The other car targeted, Type 5 No. 5734, represents the standard streetcars used in Boston from 1922 to 1959, and is leased to the MBTA by the Seashore Trolley Museum of Kennebunkport, Maine, according to the Boston Street Railway Association.


Man, someone tagged that up real good,” the T employee said, surveying the damage.

Officials from the MBTA said they’re turning to video surveillance to try and nail whoever may be responsible for the graffiti found Tuesday. In the meantime, the black-and-white taggings remain an eyesore to the general public congregating on the platforms nearby, waiting for their Green Line trains to arrive.

“I’m totally bummed,” said Nick, who declined to give his last name.

A train fan, Nick came down to see what happened to the trolleys once he had heard about the act of vandalism. “It’s a disgrace. I hope whoever did it left enough of his calling card,” he said. “That’s what they like to do, leave their mark. I hope they bag him.”

Two trolleys were hit with the spray paint, one worse than the other, however. Police said the incident happened sometime between 1 a.m. and 5 a.m.

Sprawled along the side of the first trolley, a PCC 3295, Car No. 3295, one of the last of its kind built by the Pullman-Standard Company based in Lowell in the 1950s was nearly covered from top to bottom in the mid-section of the trolley. The words appear to say “FUGUE,” a tag that instantly comes up when searched on Google and the photo-sharing site Flickr. “Fugue not only has the most intellectual name in Boston, he’s gettin [sic] up all around the city,” one website boasts.

The other tag name appears to say “CIGA,” which has been spotted in other prominent spots in the city, including the sides of buildings.

The car was one of 50 purchased by the Metropolitan Transit Authority—the name of Boston’s railway system before it became known as the MBTA—more than half a century ago.

During the early 1980s, the trolley car was restored to its original condition, to be put on display, by the “Friends of 3295,” an MBTA volunteer group. it was fixed up in order to commemorate the Riverside Line’s 25th anniversary. The trolley is owned by the MBTA, according to an email from officials.

The second car, donated for display by the Seashore Trolley Museum in Maine, had less damage to its exterior but was still marked by white lines and tags. The No. 5734 trolley, a Type 5 car, is a “semi convertible” that was built specifically for Boston’s subway system by the Brill Car Company in 1924. “The last of these cars ran in service in 1959, having operated in all parts of Boston and its suburbs,” according to a sign posted next to the trolley.

MBTA officials would not say how the alleged suspects gained access to the area, but said they are investigating. The transit agency has special officers assigned to tracking down graffiti artists. “The Transit Police Department’s Special Crimes Unit investigates graffiti cases. A detective with experience in graffiti investigations and prosecutions dedicates as much time as needed to handle such cases,” said T Spokesman Joe Pesturo in an email. “The detective, if necessary, also gets assistance from others in the Unit.”

A call to the Board of Directors at the Seashore Museum was not immediately returned.

The Boston Street Railway Association, a nonprofit organization dedicated to preserving and promoting the Boston area’s rich public transit history, called the news of the vandalized trains “sad.”
12 Jul 2014
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Discharged T Driver Denied Plea to Return to Her Job

An arbitrator ruled that the MBTA was within its right to fire Lataria Milton in 2012.

An arbitrator sided with the MBTA and agreed that the transit agency was within its rights to discharge a bus driver in 2012, after she was accused of hitting a Boston transportation worker in Kenmore Square during an attempt to allegedly avoid getting a parking ticket.

According to documents obtained by Boston, Lataria Milton—and the union that represents her—was trying to get her job back with the MBTA and force her former employer to cover the expenses incurred during her trial stemming from the accident.

An arbitrator ruled this month that not only is Milton not going to return to her daily workload at the transit agency, but she also won’t receive any monetary restitution from the T, however. “That reimbursement of legal fees…is not warranted in the circumstances of this case,” the arbitrator said in a summation of the facts, after a push was made to get Milton back in an MBTA uniform. “Lataria Milton was discharged for sufficient cause.”

On August 9, 2012, Milton was behind the wheel of a T bus, which was parked illegally on the side of the road in Kenmore Square. When Vicki Kilduff, a Boston Transportation Department supervisor, started writing Milton a ticket for parking the bus in a no-stopping zone on Commonwealth Avenue, Milton allegedly hit the gas, causing the vehicle to lurch forward and strike Kilduff. Milton then hit several cars that were stopped at a light at the intersection. She was later arrested and charged with reckless operation of a motor vehicle and assault and battery with a dangerous weapon. Shortly after, the T let her go, stating that she would “not drive a bus” for the agency again

Kilduff was taken to the hospital with non-life threatening injuries, and the case went to court that year.

Following the jury trial, where Milton was found not guilty of using her T bus as a weapon to harm Kilduff, the Carmen’s Union disputed the driver’s dismissal, and attempted to get Milton her job back. They also argued that since Milton was found not guilty that the T should be held responsible for the hefty legal fees that were a result of the trial.

The union argued in arbitration that Milton was fired from her job for a crime, even though a jury found her not guilty, and her discharge for a crime she did not commit should not be upheld.

But the arbitrator in the case, who is not named in the paperwork Boston obtained, said there are other reasons—besides the alleged crime—that justified her firing. “[The T] discharged her for a variety of rules violations,” including the “falsification” of her story, which varied greatly, the arbitrator said, between the accounts detailed to the police, and those submitted for record by Milton during the appeals process to get reinstated.

When asked about the decision, Joe Pesaturo, a spokesman for the MBTA, said with public safety “of paramount importance,” it’s the T’s duty to ensure that all of its employees adhere to the rules of conduct at all times.
MBTA to fire drivers found carrying cellphones or any modern electronic devices
12 Jul 2014
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BOSTON (AP) — Bus or train operators found to be carrying a cellphone or other electronic device while on the job would face dismissal even if the device was not being used, officials of the Boston-area public transit system said Monday in announcing a new and more stringent policy.

The directive replaces a previous policy that called for a 10-day suspension for any driver in possession of a cellphone, and an automatic discharge if the device was being used. Under the new policy, operators caught carrying a device would be suspended for 30 days with a recommendation that they be fired, regardless of their work history or any previous violations.

‘‘It’s absolutely essential that we do everything we can to help ensure that each customer’s trip is a safe one,’’ said Beverly Scott, general manager of the Massachusetts Bay Transportation Authority, the nation’s fifth busiest transit system.

MBTA officials said they believe the new policy would be the toughest in the nation and was designed to eliminate any items that could distract an operator.

Police said a bus driver involved in a crash in Newton last month that injured several people had a cellphone in her hand at the time of the accident. The bus slammed into a guardrail, leaving the vehicle’s front wheel dangling above the Massachusetts Turnpike.

The driver, Shanna Shaw, was suspended from her job and pleaded not guilty to a charge she misled investigators. Police said she first told police she lost control of the bus because of a sneezing fit caused by allergies.

The original policy was instituted in 2009 after a trolley driver was found to have been texting his girlfriend just before a crash near the underground Government Center station that injured more than 60 passengers. The driver, Aiden Quinn, was fired and later sentenced to probation after pleading guilty to negligent operation.

The new order prohibits cellphones belonging to drivers from being anywhere on the bus or train or in the possession of anyone else on the vehicle.

Bus drivers would be required to confirm on sign-in sheets that they are not carrying an electronic device, and a similar sign-in system was being developed for operators of light rail and heavy rail vehicles, officials said.
MBTA Removes Pro-Palestinian Ads
13 Jul 2014
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The ads that advocated a pro-Palestinian point of view.
MBTA Shooter Sought
18 Jul 2014
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Authorities asking for the public's help in tracking a 22-year-old Boston man they say shot a man at an MBTA station earlier this month.

Police have an arrest warrant out for Justin Hollingsworth on charges of assault and battery with a dangerous weapon and multiple firearms charges in connection with a shooting at the Stony Brook station on July 7.

Police released a time-stamped photo of Hollingsworth walking on a T platform wearing what appears to be a red-and-black striped shirt and headphones.

The victim, a 23-year-old, was taken to a local hospital after police responded around 8 p.m., for a report of a potential shooting near the entrance to the station. The man's wound was considered non-life threatening, police said at the time.

Anyone with information is asked to call Transit police at 617-222-1050, or text an anonymous tip to 873873. Anyone who sees Hollingsworth in an MBTA station can call 617-222-1212 or 911, police said.