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George Clooney arrested in Washington DC, March 2012

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Re: George Clooney arrested in Washington DC, March 2012

Post by melbert on Sat Mar 24 2012, 23:56

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George Clooney's satellite spies reveal secrets of Sudan's bloody army

Actor and activist funds a hi-tech project that is tracking troops and warning civilians of attacks

Paul Harris in Cambridge, Massachusetts

guardian.co.uk, Saturday 24 March 2012 08.24 EDT

George Clooney on a visit to the Zamzam refugee camp in north Darfur in 2008. Photograph: Sherren Zorba/AP


Nathaniel Raymond is the first to admit that he has an unusual job description. "I count tanks from space for George Clooney," said the tall, easygoing Massachusetts native as he sat in a conference room in front of a map of the Sudanese region of South Kordofan.

Close by, pins and ink scrawlings on the map detail the positions of Sudanese army forces and refugee populations in the troubled oil-producing province, where the Sudanese army is carrying out a brutal crackdown.

The wall next to Raymond has a series of satellite images projected on it. At the flick of a mouse, tiny images of tanks and military vehicles hove into view, caught by a satellite hundreds of miles above.

Raymond is director of the Satellite Sentinel Project (SSP), which aims to use advanced satellite imagery to monitor potential human rights abuses in Sudan. And it was all Clooney's idea, turning him from just another Hollywood liberal with a pet cause to a genuine expert and campaigner on Sudan. Together with John Prendergast, another campaigner, Clooney has sneaked repeatedly into the country to document the random bombing of civilians and other atrocities.

After a trip last month to the Nuba mountains, Clooney dodged rockets to return with grisly footage of corpses, children with missing hands and entire villages forced to live in caves. He showed the film to the Senate foreign relations committee in Washington DC – to great praise from the assembled politicians – then got arrested at a protest outside the Sudanese embassy.

Images of Clooney being taken away in handcuffs appeared in newspapers and on blogs around the world. But it is in the day-to-day work of the Satellite Sentinel Project that Clooney's impact is really being felt. He came up with the idea, and spoke to Google and the satellite company DigitalGlobe to help set it up, and he donates hefty speaking fees to keep it funded. It has been up and running now for 15 months.

The situation in Sudan is complex and violent. Ever since the mostly-black African South Sudan gained independence from the Arab-dominated north last year border disputes have flared, especially over the region's oil resources. Meanwhile, powerful figures in the north fear that provinces along the southern border with its new neighbour may also seek to break free of Khartoum.

The army crackdown is aimed at discouraging such hopes, or even changing the ethnic mix of the area in favour of those groups who that want to stick with Khartoum.

Based in a nondescript suite of offices near Harvard Square in the Boston suburb of Cambridge, Raymond heads a small team of staff and student volunteers who monitor events on the ground in the heart of what is practically a war zone. Every day Raymond and his staff meet in what is dubbed the "situation room" and news and reports from Sudan are analysed. They also pore over satellite pictures and compare them with a database of previous shots, looking for changes such as new military roads or camps, or troops on the move.

One day last week, SSP staffer Brittany Card was analysing news stories from Sudan describing a governor visiting two camps that were listed as mobilisation points for the People's Defence Force, a militia group widely used in repressive actions by the government. SSP imaging expert Isaac Baker traced out two rectangles to cover each camp. "We don't have a recent collect on that," observed Raymond. Baker began to tap out a request for fresh satellite imagery as Raymond and Card discussed which camp to monitor if only one picture could be taken. "The one on the east," she said eventually. By using such advanced satellite imagery and being able to commission and take photographs within hours of receiving reports from the ground, SSP can genuinely plot and analyse the course of the conflict. "We don't move the pieces on the chess board. But we have to figure out what they mean," said Raymond.

SSP's work was initially conceived as mostly gathering evidence that might be used in any future war crimes tribunal for Sudanese leaders. But the imagery was so accurate that it could also be used to monitor claims about massacres and mass graves. After someone on the ground described watching bodies being buried in a mango grove in the town of Kadugli, SSP was able to document the site from the air. It also uncovered what appeared to be body bags lying in freshly dug pits elsewhere in the town.

It has also shown troops surrounding towns and burned villages. In one astonishing set of images, it even captured an Antonov transport plane – from which Sudanese forces regularly roll out bombs – caught in mid-flight with plumes of smoke rising where the explosives had been dumped on civilian targets.

In September last year, the group's analysis revealed what appeared to be an imminent attack on the town of Kurmuk in the Blue Nile province. Photographs revealed at least 3,000 troops equipped with tanks, artillery and attack helicopters. That prompted SSP to issue a warning, giving an opportunity for many to flee.

For Raymond and his team, it was a turning point: they were no longer just observers, but were able to have an impact. For a humanitarian group operating thousands of miles away from the crisis, this was new territory.

"No one is doing what we are doing right now. It is a splitting the atom moment for the human rights community," said Raymond. However, the experience of Kurmuk – which did later fall to the army – also came with a sense of danger and great responsibility. "What if we get the direction the force is going wrong? You could have walked the civilian population right into them," he said.

There is already talk of the group's methods being applied to Syria, or to other nations caught in the turmoil unleashed by the Arab spring. It has overturned the idea of what investigating human rights abuses means.

"It is no longer enough just to stand at the graveside snapping pictures; that doesn't cut it any more," said Raymond.

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Re: George Clooney arrested in Washington DC, March 2012

Post by it's me on Sun Mar 25 2012, 07:31

thank you for the article

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Re: George Clooney arrested in Washington DC, March 2012

Post by Katiedot on Sun Mar 25 2012, 07:41

Yep, that's a really interesting article.

I somehow wonder if maybe this doesn't turn out to be George's legacy to the world? I wonder if in years to come, schoolchildren will be learning about this satellite system and how it improved the world and then the teacher will mention as an aside that the founder of this system also used to make films too.

Sorry, I think i'm letting my fantasy get away with me!!

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Re: George Clooney arrested in Washington DC, March 2012

Post by lucy on Sun Mar 25 2012, 07:57

Like the way his mind works.

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Re: George Clooney arrested in Washington DC, March 2012

Post by cindigirl on Sun Mar 25 2012, 21:37

I was reading Celebitchy the other day regarding his arrest and it's amazing how many people (hopefully women) LOVE the way he looks in handcuffs. Kinky.

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Re: George Clooney arrested in Washington DC, March 2012

Post by it's me on Sun Mar 25 2012, 22:16

ohmy!!!

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Re: George Clooney arrested in Washington DC, March 2012

Post by party animal - not! on Mon Mar 26 2012, 00:15

Think you're right, Katie, and I think he would be very proud to think that may be the case. This system could go on to be used anywhere in the world,and is a massive initiative that could be used to indict many, many more leaders, and their governments and backers like El-Bahsir in the International Criminal Court.

Funding is a huge issue....it's incredibly expensive, and that is why GTC is doing speaking engagements e g Sydney, and international adverts to maintain it. As he says, if a Government of any sort attempted this, it would be spying.

Many, many plus points to Not On Our Watch too

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George Clooney, Members of Congress Arrested at ANCA Co-Sponsored Protest (March 14, 2012)

Post by Mazy on Sat Sep 07 2013, 21:46

George Clooney, Members of Congress Arrested at ANCA Co-Sponsored Protest

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George Clooney being arrested during Sudan protest (Photo by Cliff Owen/AP)

WASHINGTON—Actor George Clooney, his father, as well as four members of Congress were among those arrested Friday at a protest in front of the Sudanese Embassy organized by United to End Genocide and co-sponsored by the Armenian National Committee of America, among others.

Also arrested for civil disobedience were representatives Jim McGovern (D-Mass.), James Moran (D-Va.), John Olver (D-Mass.) and Al Green (D-Texas), as well as Tom Andrews, President of United to End Genocide and John Prendergast of the Enough Project and the president of the NAACP, Ben Jealous. Also participating in the protest was Martin Luther King III.

“We were pleased by the broad public awareness generated by George Clooney and all of the participants in today’s protest, which we were proud to cosponsor with United to End Genocide”, said ANCA Government Affairs Director Kate Nahapetian.  “As Americans of Armenian heritage, who continue to bear witness to the dangerous precedent set by Turkey’s still unpunished crimes of genocide and exile against the Armenian nation, we look forward to helping to translate today’s energy into concrete action by the U.S. and the international community to stop the killing, punish the perpetrators and serve justice for the victims.”

Nahapetian led a group of Armenian-Americans who joined the more than 100 activists to protest the Sudanese government’s continued blockade of humanitarian aid to the Nuba Mountains and the Blue Nile, where half a million residents are on the brink of starvation.

The ANCA was a co-sponsor of the protest, along with Jewish World Watch, Amnesty International, the NAACP, STAND and a slew of other national organizations.  Since July of last year, the ANCA has worked with members of the International Association of Genocide Scholars and United to End Genocide to raise alarm bells regarding the Sudanese Government’s attacks against the civilians of the Nuba mountains – urging Congress to take immediate action to stop the killing.

The Sudanese Armed Forces are conducting a campaign of indiscriminate bombing against civilians of the Nuba Mountains and Blue Nile, causing wide-spread destruction. This combined with the blockade of humanitarian aid has created an urgent humanitarian crisis in the region.

The protest began earlier in the morning with a rally at Sheridan Circle and then moved to the Sudanese Embassy, where Clooney, who testified earlier this week before the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, discussed his recent trip to the Nuba Mountains.

Clooney praised the activism of the local Nuba Mountain residents who are calling for the immediate arrest of Sudanese president Omar al-Bashir, who is wanted by the International Criminal Court for war crimes, crimes against humanity, and genocide in Darfur.

Rep. McGovern has introduced legislation that calls on increasing sanctions on Sudan and engaging countries that have influence on Sudan, among them Turkey.  The ANCA will be launching an online action campaign to secure Congressional support for the resolution.
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Last edited by LornaDoone on Sat Sep 07 2013, 21:53; edited 3 times in total (Reason for editing : add actual arrest date - this is not a new arrest)

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Re: George Clooney arrested in Washington DC, March 2012

Post by Maggy on Sat Sep 07 2013, 21:48

Thanks, Mazy!

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Re: George Clooney arrested in Washington DC, March 2012

Post by Atalante on Sat Sep 07 2013, 21:50

This is old news.

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Re: George Clooney arrested in Washington DC, March 2012

Post by it's me on Sat Sep 07 2013, 21:50

You scared me!!!!

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Re: George Clooney arrested in Washington DC, March 2012

Post by melbert on Sat Sep 07 2013, 22:49

Mazy was bringing to light why the Armenian's might be honoring George. They were also present at his arrest last year.

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Re: George Clooney arrested in Washington DC, March 2012

Post by Mazy on Sat Sep 07 2013, 22:55

Atalante wrote:This is old news.
Yes it's showing the correlation between George and the Armenian Genocide.

This one is old too. Just background.

Kobe Bryant, South Africa and the Armenian Genocide, Lessons Learned and Lessons Which Need to be Learned

by admin on 15/12/10 at 1:36 pm

BY VACHE THOMASSIAN

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Kobe Bryant is one of the most recognizable and popular athletes in the world. He is also not strapped for cash, considering his net worth is estimated at $140 million. So the announcement this week that the Lakers superstar signed a 2-year endorsement deal to lend his fame and charisma to sell Turkish Airline tickets came as a bit of a surprise.

The Armenian Youth Federation was quick to respond to the deal by releasing a statement calling for Bryant to take a moral stand and rescind his contract. However, some community members have viewed this “hard-lined” approach as unwarranted—referring to Bryant as a businessman who is simply following the dollar signs, or pointing out that Bryant isn’t an Armenian and therefore would not be interested in the Armenian Genocide.

These perspectives raise concerns about the way we think about ourselves, leading to two important points which have to be made clear: 1) The denial of the Armenian Genocide is not an “Armenian only” issue; 2) We underestimate our true capacity to bring change.

We can look back in history to elaborate these points. From the 1940’s to the 1990’s South Africa was ruled by one political party which implemented a policy of legal racial segregation known as apartheid. The minority white population held all the political power and subjugated the black majority to dehumanizing conditions. In the 1970’s an international movement began that encouraged investors to withdraw direct investment in South African companies and pushed citizens to stop supporting US based companies which had business interests in South Africa, as an act of protest against apartheid.

The movement grew as stockholders pressed their boards of directors, and investors became weary. The movement grew as universities like Berkeley, Stanford and Columbia organized their campuses to divest billions in endowment and bond money from companies with South African ties. This movement was lead by youth and fueled in part by celebrities using their fame to raise awareness for the cause. The billions of dollars that stopped flowing-in undoubtedly got the South African government’s attention. US cities and states followed suit, passing divestment legislation, all leading up to the “Comprehensive Anti-Apartheid Act” in 1986 which banned new US investments and military sales to South Africa.

The divestment campaign, coupled with the internal struggle of the oppressed population, led to the dismemberment of the apartheid government in South Africa in the early 1990’s. Divestment from apartheid South Africa was lead by people like you: the consumer who asked where their products came from, the student who organized her campus, the union member who pressured her company, the religious leader who encouraged their parish, the musician who wrote a song; people who otherwise, individually, could never have made a difference.

Today we see another divestment movement which has taken shape.  The Genocide currently taking place in Darfur, Sudan has resulted in the murder of almost half a million. Celebrities, like George Clooney and Don Cheadle have given their time and support, not to make a petty profit, but to raise awareness about the desperate situation.  The Al-Bashir government (which unsurprisingly has strong ties with the government of Turkey), has ignored all international humanitarian efforts and continues its genocidal policies. The move to economically isolate the Sudan may be the last hope to stop a catastrophic situation.

The mindset that led the divestment movement is the mindset that our communities and youth should be driven by today.

Justice for the Armenian Genocide is an international human rights issue that belongs on the minds of every single investor in the Republic of Turkey, and every person—celebrity, athlete, actor, socialite—who endorses or supports the government or trade with the government. The moral difficulty of dealing with a company which does business in Turkey should be enough of a factor to dissuade any deal, for any amount of money.

Here, when I see a public figure like Kobe Bryant associate himself with a Turkish company, my reaction is not a knee-jerk hate-inspired reaction, it’s a confident reaction that says, “If he knew the facts, he would quickly change his mind.”

Turkish Airlines is not only the national airlines of Turkey; the government of Turkey owns 49.1% of the company. It’s also a prime example of the public relations work the government is doing to try to repair decades of negativity as a result of its human rights record.

Our choice is to either accept what we think is invincible, or connect our cause, organize and have our concerns heard.

It may seem trivial for an activist youth organization to become a thorn in the side of a multi-million dollar basketball icon, but the fact of the matter remains that a principled stance must be taken when it comes to supporting a genocide-denying regime like the current Turkish government. Much like the South African example demonstrated, decades of inhumanity can succumb to the power of the dollar, and to the power of organization.

Unfortunately, this article is not a call for us to divest from Turkey, because my honest opinion is that we aren’t ready for that step…yet. We have a hard enough time convincing Armenian grocery store owners and importers to stop selling Turkish tomato paste, when the Armenian alternatives are readily available. We have a hard enough time of convincing our new generation that an act of protest is not a one day a year occurrence. And we have a hard enough time convincing some people that our fight for genocide recognition has nothing to do with hating the enemy, and has everything to do with loving our own people.

This is just a first step that says our fight should be everyone’s fight and our power does not yet even know it’s potential.
___
__
Vaché Thomassian is a member of the Armenian Youth Federation Central Executive and the Editor of Haytoug magazine.
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Re: George Clooney arrested in Washington DC, March 2012

Post by Mazy on Sat Sep 07 2013, 23:07

it's me wrote:You scared me!!!!
We are doing what the purpose of all these award events need us to do, and giving recognition to George,i.e. It doesn't help George's causes if we never discuss the reason why they give the honors. This being in the news and more people talking about these horrific problems help the cause. It is difficult for atrocities to flourish in a fish bowl so to speak. From this event if only one other person speaks out against what happened in Armenia it's a plus. George is a wonderful person and I suspect that he does a lot more than we ever will know. God Bless.

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Re: George Clooney arrested in Washington DC, March 2012

Post by it's me on Sat Sep 07 2013, 23:21

I agree on that you last said

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Re: George Clooney arrested in Washington DC, March 2012

Post by Nicky80 on Sun Sep 08 2013, 00:10

Thanks Mazy for bringing up the connection between George and Armenian. I didn't know or didn't remember that they co-sponsored the protest in front of the Sudanese Embassy .

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Re: George Clooney arrested in Washington DC, March 2012

Post by Rachel on Sun Sep 08 2013, 01:32

Mazy wrote:
it's me wrote:You scared me!!!!
We are doing what the purpose of all these award events need us to do, and giving recognition to George,i.e. It doesn't help George's causes if we never discuss the reason why they give the honors. This being in the news and more people talking about these horrific problems help the cause. It is difficult for atrocities to flourish in a fish bowl so to speak. From this event if only one other person speaks out against what happened in Armenia it's a plus. George is a wonderful person and I suspect that he does a lot more than we ever will know. God Bless.
I totally agree Mazy - may he stay blessed

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Re: George Clooney arrested in Washington DC, March 2012

Post by Katiedot on Mon Sep 09 2013, 04:41

I've just moved these posts over the original thread.

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Re: George Clooney arrested in Washington DC, March 2012

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