Archive | October, 2012

‘Apartheid state’ claim sets off firestorm in IsraHell

NOVANEWS

thenational.ae

Few things rile up Israeli Jews more than the suggestion that they have built an “apartheid state” on Palestinian territory.

The comparison of Israel’s treatment of the Palestinians with the system of racial separation imposed by minority whites on majority blacks in South Africa for more than four decades is a direct challenge to their carefully cultivated self-image as a humane people who themselves have historically been victims of racist tyranny.

And so, when Gideon Levy, a columnist for the daily newspaper Haaretz, cited the results of an opinion poll suggesting Israelis were more nationalistic, racist and indeed, more in favour of apartheid than they cared to admit, he created a firestorm of controversy.

Writing last week about a survey purporting to show favourable Jewish-Israeli attitudes towards apartheid, he prompted withering criticism from the right wing and fellow liberals.

The first sentence of his report on the survey couldn’t have been blunter: “Most of the Jewish public in Israel supports the establishment of an apartheid regime in Israel if it formally annexes the West Bank.”

But in an interview with The National on Monday, Mr Levy, who is known for his pro-Palestinian sympathies, flatly dismissed the critics as people who “don’t like to look into the mirror, especially if the mirror shows an unpleasant face”.

The survey, carried out in September by a research group called Dialog that is led by a Tel Aviv University professor, found that 59 per cent of the 503 respondents wanted preferential treatment for Jews over Arab citizens of Israel in receiving government-ministry jobs.

Moreover, it cited 42 per cent of respondents as neither wanting to live in the same apartment building as Arabs, nor wanting their children to share classrooms with Arabs.

Haaretz, the most sympathetic Israeli newspaper to the Palestinian cause, printed the piece on page one. It used the headline: “Most Israelis support an apartheid regime in Israel” because, in part, 69 per cent of respondents said the West Bank’s 2.5 million Palestinians should not be allowed to vote should Israel annex “territories” in the West Bank.

Mr Levy’s article attracted a number of rebukes from the right wing. Writing in a Times of Israel blog last week, Ben-Dror Yemini, accused Mr Levy of lying.

He said that what Haaretz published last week was “one of the biggest manipulations in the history of incitement against Israel”.

The Committee for Accuracy in Middle East Reporting in America, a United States-based media watchdog critical of perceived anti-Israel biases, called the article “Haaretz‘s apartheid campaign against Israel”.

In response to the outcry, Haaretz this week changed the article’s headline and issued a correction. The newspaper said its original headline “did not accurately reflect” the survey’s findings because it failed to clarify that Israelis did not support voting rights to West Bank Palestinians in the “hypothetical” event of an Israeli annexation of parts of the territory.

In a column on Monday, Mr Levy apologised for the headline as “misleading” and admitted to inserting an error in an analysis article he also wrote last week. In that analysis – entitled “Apartheid without shame or guilt” – he incorrectly wrote the “majority doesn’t want Arabs to vote for the Knesset, Arab neighbours at home or Arab students at school”.

It was, he wrote in the mea culpa, “not a majority – just a [large] portion of Israelis espouse these frightening views. Cold comfort”.

Mr Levy, 59, and his emotive writing style have sparked plenty of anger before – he once received an email from a reader that said: “Thank you for the wonderful article, Adolf Hitler.”

Nor is he the first of Haaretz‘s liberal assemblage of writers to invoke apartheid to describe Israel’s 45-year occupation of the West Bank, east Jerusalem and the Gaza Strip.

Palestinians believe that these territories should form part of their independent state, an aspiration that is being thwarted by Israel’s expanding settlements.

In an article this month, Akiva Eldar, another arch-critic of Israel’s pro-settler, right-wing government, cited government statistics to argue that Jews now form a minority when factoring in non-Jewish populations in the territories under Israeli control. The numbers proved that “apartheid exists”, he wrote.

While Mr Levy has stood by the thrust of his reporting and analysis on the apartheid poll, some Haaretz colleagues have not.

Yehuda Ben Meir, a fellow columnist, wrote in the newspaper on Sunday that the survey proved the opposite of the conclusions reached by Mr Levy. As 48 per cent of respondents opposed annexing Palestinian territories with Jewish settlements in them, he said this showed the “same majority is also unwilling to live in a country with an ‘apartheid regime’”. (Thirty-eight per cent favoured annexation.)

While acknowledging “room for improvement in Israeli society”, Ben Meir added the “article does an injustice to the State of Israel, the Jewish people and the truth”.

In another Haaretz opinion article published on Monday, Shany Mor, senior research associate at the Britain Israel Communications and Research Centre, took a shot at Mr Levy for his “poor reading” of the survey.

Further, he criticised both the newspaper and the survey itself for “misleading translations”, “sloppily worded questions”, “dubious” use of data that produced “misrepresentations of opinion” and “agenda-driven editorialising”.

Tamar Hermann, senior fellow at the Israel Democracy Institute and an expert on public-opinion research, agreed the questions in the survey should have been worded more clearly, saying they lacked “precision”. She also said Haaretz could have been more upfront about the organisation that commissioned it: the Yisraela Goldblum Fund, which has links to liberal organisations.

But insistent during the interview, Mr Levy said Israelis “can’t defy reality”.

Apart from the error in his analysis article, he said, his reporting on the apartheid survey “was totally precise”.

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Revolt of the Plebs Broadcast

Revolt of the Plebs Broadcast Oct 30, 2012

by crescentandcross

Usury as an instrument of financial warfare utilized by organized Jewish interests against Gentile populations.

Keith is joined from South Africa by Stephen Goodson to discuss this and other matters.

Mr. Goodson can be reached at abolishusury@telkomsa.net for comments or questions.

revolt-of-the-plebs-broadcast-oct-30-2012.mp3

Download Here

THANK YOU FOR ASSISTING WITH THE COSTS ASSOCIATED WITH PRODUCING THIS PROGRAM

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The Virtual Economic Recovery

NOVANEWS
Global Research

Since mid-2009 the US has been enjoying a virtual recovery courtesy of a rigged inflation measure that understates inflation. The financial Presstitutes spoon out the government’s propaganda that prices are rising less than 2%. But anyone who purchases food, fuel, medical care or anything else knows that low inflation is no more real that Saddam Hussein’s weapons of mass destruction or Gadhafi’s alleged attacks on Libyan protesters or Iran’s nuclear weapons. Everything is a lie to serve the power-brokers.

During the Clinton administration, Republican economists pushed through a change in the way the CPI is measured in order to save money by depriving Social Security retirees of their cost-of-living adjustment. Previously, the CPI measured the change in the cost of a constant standard of living. The new measure assumes that consumers adjust to price increases by lowering their standard of living by substituting lower quality, lower priced items. If the price, for example, of New York strip steak goes up, consumers are assumed to substitute the lower quality round steak. In other words, the new measure of inflation keeps inflation down by reflecting a lowered standard of living.

Statistician John Williams (shadowstats.com), who closely follows the collecting and reporting of official US economic statistics, reports that consumer inflation, as measured by the 1990 official government methodology has been running at about 5%. If the 1980 official methodology for measuring the CPI is used, John Williams reports that the current rate of US inflation is about 9%.

The 9% figure is more consistent with people’s experience in grocery stores.

Officially the recession that began in 2007 ended in June 2009 after 18 months, making the Bush Recession the longest recession since World War II. However, John Williams says that the recession has not ended. He says that only the GDP reporting, distorted by an erroneous measurement of inflation, shows a recovery. Other, more reliable measures of economic activity, show no recovery.

Williams reports that the economy began turning down in 2006, falling lower in 2008 and 2009, and bottom-bouncing ever since. Not only is there no sign of any recovery, but “the economic downturn now is intensifying once again.” The absence of an economic recovery “is evident in the [official] reporting of nearly all major economic series. Not one of these series shows a pattern of activity that confirms the recovery [shown] in the GDP series.”

Williams concludes that “the official recovery simply is a statistical illusion created by the government’s use of understated inflation in deflating the GDP.” In other words, the reported gains in GDP are accounted for by price increases, not increases in real output.

The result of the US government’s economic deception is the same as the deception Washington has used to start wars all over the Middle East. The government propaganda produces a make-believe virtual reality that bears no relationship to real reality. In history there have been many governments who have prevailed by deceiving the people, but Washington has moved this success to a new peak. As long as Americans believe anything Washington says, they are doomed.

It is easy to see why there is no economic recovery and cannot be an economic recovery. Look at the chart below (courtesy of John Williams, shadowstats.com).

Real median household income at the end of 2011 is back where it was in 1967-68. Moreover, Williams has deflated household income to get its real value by using the official inflation measure, which substantially understates inflation. If Williams had used the 1990 or 1980 official government methodology for calculating the consumer price index, the real median incomes of households would show a larger decline.

Moreover, the low 2011 real median household income is the summation, in most cases, of two household earners, whereas in 1967-68 one earner could produce the same real income. As Nobel economist Gary Becker, my former colleague as Business Week columnist, pointed out, when both husband and wife have to work in order to maintain the same purchasing power, household income from the wife’s in-kind household services is eliminated. Therefore, the monetary measure of the dual household income overstates income, because it is not adjusted for the lost benefits formerly provided by the wife who at home managed the household.

Americans are far more oppressed by the power brokers in Washington than statistics display. Moreover, the young are born into the oppressive, exploitative American system and do not know any different. They are fed by the Presstitute media with endless propaganda about how fortunate they are and how indispensable their wonderful country is. Americans are kept in a constant state of amusement, and many never grasp the loss of their civil liberties, job and career opportunities, and respect that the US won during the decades-long cold war with Soviet Communism.

On September 13, Federal Reserve Chairman Ben “Helicopter” Bernanke announced Quantitative Easing 3. Bernanke said that the recovery is weak and needs more Fed stimulus. He said the Fed will purchase $40 billion of mortgage bonds per month in order to drive interest rates further below the rate of inflation and help to sell more houses.

But how do you sell houses to households who are getting by with 1967-68 levels of real income and who have absolutely no job security? Their company can be taken over and offshored tomorrow or they can be replaced by foreign workers on H-1B visas. Housing prices have dropped, but not to 1967-68 levels.

Bernanke’s announcement that the Fed’s purchase of mortgage bonds is to spur housing and the economy is disinformation. Bernanke is purchasing the bonds in order to boost the values of the derivatives and debt instruments in the banks’ portfolios. Lower interest rates raise the value of the debt instruments on the banks’ balance sheets. By depriving American savers of a real interest rate on their savings, Bernanke makes the busted banks look solvent.

This is what is happening in “freedom and democracy” America. The vast majority of Americans, especially the retired, are forced to consume their savings and draw down their capital because they can get no real interest on their savings. The beneficiaries are the banksters, who can borrow at near zero interest rates, charge consumers 16% on their credit cards, and use the Federal Reserve’s largess to speculate on interest rate swaps and credit default swaps. The American taxpayers hold the bag for the banksters’ uncovered gambles.

Would you not gamble if the American taxpayers had to cover your bets, but your winnings were yours alone?

The future of the American political order is in doubt. The Bush and Obama regimes have so badly abused the Constitution and statutory law, that the America that Ronald Reagan left to us no longer exists. America is on the path to collapse or tyranny.

Suppose that a miracle produces an economic recovery. What becomes of the enormous excess bank reserves that the Federal Reserve has provided the banks?

If these bank reserves are used for expanding loans, the money supply will outstrip the production of goods and services, and inflation will rise.

If the Fed tries to take the excess reserves out of the banking system by selling bonds, interest rates will rise, thus destroying the wealth of bond holders and draining liquidity from the stock market. In other words, another depression that wipes out the remaining American wealth.

The Federal Reserve’s announcement of QE3 shows that the Fed will continue to create new money in order to protect the values of the insolvent banks’ questionable assets. The Federal Reserve represents the banksters, not the American public. Like every other American government institution, the Federal Reserve is far removed from concerns about American citizens.

In my opinion, the Federal Reserve’s purchase of bonds in order to drive down interest rates has produced a bond market bubble that is larger than the real estate and derivative bubbles. Economically, it is nonsensical for a bond to carry a negative real interest rate, especially when the government issuing the bond is running large budget deficits that it seems unable to reduce and when the central bank is monetizing the debt.

The bubble has been protected by the euro “crisis,” which possibly is more of a virtual crisis than a real one. The euro crisis has caused money to seek refuge in dollars, thus supporting the dollar’s value even while the Federal Reserve prints money with which to purchase the never-ending flow of the governments’ bonds to finance trillion dollar plus annual budget deficits–about 5 times the “Reagan deficits” that Wall Street alleged would wreck the US economy.

Indeed, the US dollar’s exchange value is itself a bubble waiting to pop. The sharp rise in the dollar price of gold and silver since 2003 indicates a flight from the US dollar. (The chart is courtesy of John Williams, shadowstats.com.)

The bond market bubble will pop if the dollar bubble pops. The Federal Reserve can sustain the bond market bubble by purchasing bonds, and there are no limits on the Federal Reserve’s ability to purchase bonds. However, the endless monetization of debt, even if the new money is stuck in the banks and does not find its way into the economy, can spook foreign holders of dollar-denominated assets.

Foreign central banks can decide that they want to hold fewer dollars and more precious metals as their reserves. Other countries, sensing the US dollar’s demise,

are organizing to conduct their trade without the use of the world’s reserve currency. Brazil, Russia, India, China, and South Africa intend to conduct their trade with one another in their own currencies. China and Japan have also negotiated to settle their trade balances with one another in their own currencies.

These agreements substantially reduce the use of the US dollar in international trade and, thus, the demand for dollars. When demand falls, so does price, unless the supply shrinks. But the Federal Reserve has announced, essentially, unlimited supply of US dollars. So we are faced with a paradox. The US dollar is supposed to remain valuable despite its enormous increase in supply.

In addition, China, America’s largest creditor and in the past a reliable purchaser of US Treasury bonds, holds some two trillion in dollar-denominated assets, primarily Treasury bonds. How is Washington treating its largest foreign creditor? Not with appreciation or deference. Washington is surrounding China with naval and air bases, interfering in China’s disputes with other countries, and bringing contrived actions against China in the World Trade Organization. Washington claims that US corporations are deserting the US not because of the lower cost of labor in China, but because of Chinese “subsidies” to the relocated US firms.

In my April 30 column, “Brewing a Conflict with China,” I wrote that Washington would like to substitute a cold war with China for the hot wars in the Middle East. The problem with the hot wars is the loss of superpower face from Washington’s inability to prevail after eleven years, and although the hot wars are profitable for the military/security complex, the wars don’t generate the level of profits that would flow from a high-tech arms race with China. Moreover, Washington believes that diverting Chinese investment from the economy into a military buildup would slow the rate at which the Chinese economy is overtaking the US economy.

What if instead of taking the bait from Washington, China targets Washington’s Archilles heel–the dollar’s role as reserve currency–and decides it is cheaper to dump one trillion dollars of US Treasury debt on the bond market than to commit to a 30 year arms race? To keep the price of Treasuries from collapsing, the Federal Reserve could print the money to buy the bonds. But if China then dumps the printed one trillion dollars in the foreign exchange markets, Washington cannot print euros, British pounds, Russian rubles, Swiss francs, and other currencies in order to buy up the dollars.

Frantic, Washington would try to arrange currency swaps with foreign countries in order to acquire the foreign exchange with which to buy up the dollars that, otherwise, will drive down the dollar exchange rate and destroy the Federal Reserve’s control over interest rates.

But if the Chinese don’t want the dollars, will other countries want to swap their currencies for the abandoned US dollar?

Some of Washington’s puppet states will comply, but the wider world will rejoice in the termination of Washington’s financial hegemony and refuse the offer.

Sooner or later the dollar will collapse from Washington’s abuse of the dollar’s role as reserve currency, and the dollar will lose its “safe haven” status. US inflation will rise, and US political stability, along with America’s hegemonic power, will wane.

The rest of the world will sigh with relief. And China will have defeated the superpower without an arms race or firing a shot.

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Under the Cover of Malala Yousufzai?

NOVANEWS
By Sajjad Shaukat

Debate on the tragic incident of a 14-year-old girl Malala Yousafzai, a female child educator, who was brutally shot in Swat on October 9, reduced in Pakistan. But, under the cover of attack on Malala by the Tehrik-i-Taliban Pakistan (TTP) which claimed responsibility for this heinous crime, US-led foreign countries have continuously been manipulating the event in one or the other way to distort the image of Pakistan.

While, Pakistan’s civil and military leadership, all the political and religious parties, governmental and non-government institutes and civil society members strongly condemned cowardly assault on Malala Yousufzai, while holding protest rallies against Taliban. And on October 10 (Friday) was observed as a “day of prayer” for her recovery.

Despite it, Malala’s incident has become a tool of external entities to tarnish the image of Pakistan clandestinely. In this context, former Prime Minister Gordon Brown, UN Special Envoy for Global Education, declared November 10 as international day for Malala “to show that we all are Malala…the day can boost the status of female education worldwide.”

A senior American lawmaker on October 24 distributed a letter in the US Congress, urging her colleagues to award the Congressional Gold Medal to Malala Yousufzai. Separately, thousands of people have signed an online petition to nominate Malala for the Nobel Peace Prize which has also been proposed by a famous American actress Angelina Jolie and the UNHCR’s special envoy.

While speaking at a tribute for the schoolgirl, on October 19, the Director-General of UNESCO, Irina Bokova praised the bravery of Malala Yousafzai. Besides, France, Australia, Germany, UK etc., and especially US President Barack Obama including UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon have condemned the assassination attempt by protesting against the Taliban.

However, apparently, almost all the US-western countries, their human rights groups, India and their media have appreciated the courage of Malala Yousufzai who stood against the Taliban’s oppressive policies, and has taken her as a ‘symbol of hope’ for moderate elements, and inspiration of education. But under the pretext, these external elements have intensified their campaign against our country because it is the only nuclear state in the Islamic world. Particularly, US, India and Israel are in connivance to destabilise Pakistan. Based in Afghanistan, their secret agencies, CIA, RAW and Mossad have perennially been conducting suicide attacks, bomb blasts, targeted killings, beheadings, assaults on military troops, police stations, sectarian violence at various cities of the country including Karachi and Khyber Pakhtunkhwa where these subversive acts have accelerated. Because of its ideal strategic location, Balochistan has become their special target where these agencies are supporting separatist elements to dismember Pakistan.

Meanwhile, barbarous attack on Malala coincided with a number of other anti-Pakistan developments. In this respect, Afghan President Hamid Karzai allegedly stated on October 18 that the shooting of Malala Yousufzai would convince Islamabad that using extremism as a tool against others was not in its interest.

Besides, during the final debate for the US presidential elections, Republican candidate Mitt Romney favoured President Obama about the safe havens of Haqqani network on Pakistani soil holding it responsible for deadly attacks against the US/NATO forces. He also supported Obama’s drone policy.

In fact, US-led NATO high officials have made Pakistan a scapegoat of their defeat in Afghanistan by ignoring the reality that Afghans are fighting for their homeland’s freedom. While in the last two years, heavily-armed militants entered Pakistan from Afghanistan’s side and targeted security forces’ checkposts, killing more than 100 personnel of the army besides destroying infrastructure of various areas.

TTP militants led by Maulvi Fazlullah who had left Swat after military operation have fully established their stronghold in Afghan provinces of Nooristan and Kunar. With the tactical assistance of US, their subversive activities against Pakistan are funded by Indian secret agency, RAW, and Afghan intelligence-National Directorate of Security (NDS). These secret entities have hired the services of many Muslims who have joined the ranks and files of Tehreek-e-Taliban Pakistan and other extremist outfits. Pakistan’s civil and military leadership has repeatedly protested against cross-border terrorism from Afghanistan including TTP location there, but US-led NATO and Afghan officials have taken no action.

Recently, Federal Interior Minister Rehman Malik has disclosed that the attack on Malala was planned in Afghanistan by the TTP.

These anti-Pakistan conspiracies have given a great incentive to the political and religious parties like PML-N, Jamaat-e-Islami (JI), JUI-F and PTI which are supporter of Taliban, but condemn shooting of Malala and favoure education of women. Their leaders have remarked that the assault on Malala Yosafzai has no connection with the Taliban, but it was conducted to create justification for military operation in North Waziristan, while US drone attacks killed many innocent girls and children which go unnoticed in the West.

Recently, while dispelling speculations of foreign and domestic media, Chief of Army Staff Gen. Ashfaq Parvez Kayani reiterated, “We might, if necessary, undertake operations in NWA as determined only by our political and military requirements including public support. It will never be a result of any outside pressure.” Rehman Malik has also ruled out any such operation.

Despite a division between various parties including media commentators about Taliban after the Malala episode, a majority of people including Pashtuns wants that a handful of terrorist elements must not be allowed to impose their self-created ideology in the country. In fact, through their inhuman acts and subversive events, Taliban are defaming Islam which is the religion of peace, moderation and human rights.

Even, several Islamic scholars issued fatwas (verdicts), terming attack on Malala as un-Islamic by explaining that the assailants’ self-adopted interpretation of Islam was nothing but ignorance and digression from the actual Islamic teachings. They clarified that Islam made it obligatory on every man and woman to seek education—strictly forbids taking life of innocent persons, which is not jihad. Besides, Shia religious scholars also denounced attack on Malala.

Nonetheless, this assault on Malala must be viewed in the larger perspective of international plot against Pakistan. Under the cover of Malala Yousufzai, US and other powers are distorting the image of Islam and Pakistan in the outside world.

Sajjad Shaukat writes on international affairs and is author of the book: US vs Islamic Militants, Invisible Balance of Power: Dangerous Shift in International Relations

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Months before Assassination, Jordanian Intelligence Warned Al-Hassan: “Israel” Wants Your Head

NOVANEWS    
Under the title, “Wissam al-Hassan: They want my head,”, “al-Akhbar” Lebanese newspaper revealed information that reflect the possibility of “Israel’s” involvement in Achrafieyh blast; thus, the assassination of Lebanese Information Branch head.According to “al-Akhbar” Tuesday’s editorial, the victim informed people close to him, that Jordanian officials warned him he is at the center of “Israeli” targets.In details, months before his murder, al-Hassan told a number of his close associates about two meetings he held with the head of Jordanian intelligence [in Germany] and a minister in a direct connection with the Jordanian intelligence.
“The two men reported information from meetings with “Israeli” Intelligence officials,” al-Hassan said.Al-Hassan further revealed the content of the Jordanian officials talks with the “Israelis”, which tackled the situation in Lebanon and its consequences.According to “al-Akhbar” sources, the Jordanians addressed al-Hassan by saying: The “Israelis” aren’t satisfied with your performance and you have to be cautious.”
In parallel, one of the two men warned al-Hassan: “You have to be careful, even in Europe .””Al-Hassan was aware of the fact that the “Israelis” wanted his head and said more than once that he is no longer safe during his visits to Europe,” the daily mentioned.It also noted: “The victim knew the size of “Israeli” wrath resulting from the fall of their espionage cells in Lebanon since 2008.”Moreover, other sources unveiled to “al-Akhbar” that “The beginning of this year carried another alert to al-Hassan.””
He received a letter, in January 2012, from United Arab Emirates Intelligence based on reliable information that a senior officer in the Lebanese Internal Security Unit will be a target of an assassination attempt,” they said.Al-Akhbar quoted these sources as saying: “The officer will be the target of a car bomb in the Achrafieyh, on the road between the ISF building and the ISF official’s residence.””Al-Hassan was surprised for until that moment , his secret office was unknown,” the newspaper added.In this context, it also highlighted: “An Emirati official told al-Hassan that available information reflected that “al-Qaeda”, particularly a group in ain al-Helwe camp, is preparing for an assassination attempt.”

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More Saudi forgeries: ‘Gaza’s ‘al Kassam’ becomes Shia’ ‘Ya Zeinab’

NOVANEWS

More Saudi forgeries:

‘Gaza’s ‘al Kassam’ becomes Shia’ ‘Ya Zeinab’

…. all this to pin a sectarian accusation that Shia’s are fighting for the Syrian government. (Via AngryArab)

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Lebanon Military Prosecution Detains 8 Members of “Free Syrian Army”

NOVANEWS
Military Investigating Judge in Lebanon Imad Al-Zein issued Monday arrest warrants against eight Syrians, six of them are members of the so-called “Free Syrian Army” and two are supporters of it, the National News Agency reported.The agency indicated that “the arrest warrants were issued after investigating with the detainees for possessing big amounts of unlicensed military weapons and munitions, and firing at the Lebanese army from their tents in Biqaa.”“Judge Zein completed his investigations and referred the file to the military prosecution to review the case,” the agency added
[ed notes;original source national news agency   Eight Syrian pro FSA arrested 


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George Galloway on the turkey and syria conflict

NOVANEWS

George Galloway talks about the recent conflict between Turkey and Syria

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Europe sustaining illegal IsraHell settlements

NOVANEWS
EU-Israeli friendship

EU imports 15 times more from illegal Israeli settlements than from Palestinians, new report reveals

Broad coalition calls on Europe to move decisively beyond rhetoric on settlements

The European Union imports 15 times more from Israel’s illegal settlements in the occupied Palestinian territories than from Palestinians themselves, a new report1 from a coalition of 22 non-governmental organizations, including Christian Aid UK and Ireland, the International Federation for Human Rights (FIDH) and Diakonia revealed on 30 October.

The report, entitled Trading Away Peace: How Europe helps sustain illegal Israeli settlements, is the first to compare available export data from Israeli settlements and Palestinians, highlighting the inconsistency at the heart of EU policy.

The EU states: “Settlements are illegal under international law, constitute an obstacle to peace, and threaten to make a two-state solution impossible”, but continues to provide a primary export market for settlement products. Most EU member states have failed to ensure products are correctly labelled in stores, leaving consumers unaware of the products’ true origin, contrary to the EU’s own directives.

The Israeli government estimates the value of EU imports from settlements at around 230 million euros a year, compared to 15m euros a year from Palestinians.

“Europe says settlements are illegal under international law and yet continues to trade with them. Consumers are unwittingly contributing to the injustice by buying products that are inaccurately labelled as coming from Israel when in fact they are from settlements in the West Bank,” said William Bell, Policy and Advocacy Officer at Christian Aid UK and Ireland.

The report, which has a foreword by the former the EU commissioner for external relations, Hans van den Broek, calls on European governments to adopt a range of concrete measures to stop assisting settlement expansion and close the gap between words and practice. At a minimum, the coalition is calling for clear labelling guidelines to ensure European consumers do not unknowingly buy settlement goods.2 Such guidelines already exist in the UK and Denmark.

Trade with settlements has been on the EU agenda since May, when EU foreign ministers strongly criticized “the marked acceleration of settlement construction” and for the first time called for full application of existing EU legislation regarding products from settlements (see page 12 of this report).

The Israeli government estimates the value of EU imports from settlements at around 230 million euros a year,3 compared to 15m euros a year from Palestinians.4 The discrepancy is partly driven by Israel’s policy of providing large subsidies to settlers,5including for infrastructure, business development and agriculture while imposing stringent restrictions on the Palestinian access to markets and resources.

Goods from West Bank settlements are produced on the back of house demolitions, land confiscations and military occupation. Governments need to … move beyond rhetorical condemnations of settlements and … ensure consumers can make informed decisions about these products in shops…” (Souhayr Belhassen, President, International Federation for Human Rights)

Settlers enjoy easy access to international markets, and have established modern agribusinesses and industrial zones. In contrast, the Palestinian economy is “severely constrained by a multi-layered system of restrictions” (see this report, page 11) imposed by Israel, including roadblocks, checkpoints and limited access to land, water and fertilizers. As a result, Palestinian exports have fallen from over half of GDP in the 1980s to less than 15 per cent of GDP in recent years (see this report, page 4), effectively invalidating the EU’s preferential trade agreement with the Palestinians.

“The EU spends hundreds of millions of euros in aid each year to support Palestinian state building but then undermines this assistance by trading with illegal settlements, thus contributing to their viability and expansion,” said Dr Phyllis Starkey, former British MP and Trustee of Medical Aid for Palestinians.

Among the settlement goods that are on sale in Europe are dates, grapes, citrus fruits, herbs, wines, cosmetics from Ahava, some of the carbonation devices from SodaStream and some of the plastic garden furniture produced by Keter.

“Goods from West Bank settlements are produced on the back of house demolitions, land confiscations and military occupation. Governments need to finally move beyond rhetorical condemnations of settlements and at the very minimum ensure consumers can make informed decisions about these products in shops. This is nothing but abiding by European and international law,” said Souhayr Belhassen, President of the International Federation for Human Rights (FIDH).


Signatory organizations: APRODEV, Broederlijk Delen (Belgium), Caabu (UK), CCFD – Terre Solidaire (France), Christian Aid (UK and Ireland), Church of Sweden, Cordaid (Netherlands), DanChurchAid (Denmark), Diakonia (Sweden), International Federation for Human Rights (FIDH), FinnChurchAid (Finland), ICCO (Netherlands), IKV Pax Christi (Netherlands), Medical Aid for Palestinians (UK), Medico International (Germany), Medico International Switzerland, The Methodist Church in Britain, Norwegian People’s Aid, Norweigan Church Aid, Quaker Council for European Affairs, Quaker Peace and Social Witness (UK), Trocaire (Ireland)


Notes

1. With more than 4 million Palestinians and over 500,000 Israeli settlers living in the occupied territories this means the EU imports over 100 times more per settler than per Palestinian. Source of figures: see below.

2. Further, more comprehensive measures recommended in the report include:

  • Excluding settlements from benefits of bilateral agreements and cooperation programmes
  • Actively discouraging corporate involvement in settlements
  • Preventing financial transactions to settlements
  • Banning imports of settlement products

3. Figure provided by the Israeli Foreign Ministry to the World Bank in 2012, represents approximately 2 per cent of total Israeli exports to the EU. See page 13 of this report.

4. Five-year average for 2007-11 – see this report. With more than four million Palestinians and over 500,000 Israeli settlers living in the occupied territories, this means the EU imports over 100 times more per settler than per Palestinian.

5. According to a recent estimate, the Israeli government spends 330m euros a year on settlements above the level of benefits provided to citizens inside Israel. See this report.

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LOL!!! Russian punk band “risk lives” in Soviet-style prisons

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Members of the female punk band "Pussy Riot" (L-R) Yekaterina Samutsevich, Maria Alyokhina and Nadezhda Tolokonnikova sit in a glass-walled cage before a court hearing in Moscow October 10, 2012. REUTERS/Maxim Shemetov

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MOSCOW (Reuters) – Two women from punk band Pussy Riot sentenced to jail for an anti-Putin protest in a Moscow cathedral face harsh, Soviet-style prison camps where their lives may be in danger due to a lack of medicine and no hot water amid sub-zero winter temperatures, according to a recently released band member.

Pussy Riot’s protest has attracted global attention because of the two-year jail sentences meted out to its members for what prosecutors called “hooliganism motivated by religious hatred”.

Opposition figures say the punishments formed part of a wave of repression against opponents ofPresident Vladimir Putin, now in his 13th year ruling Russia.

Putin said last Thursday that the women “deserved what they got” because their punk prayer in Moscow’s main cathedral last February, during which the balaclava-clad women appealed to the Virgin Mary to get rid of the president, amounted to “group sex” and threatened the moral foundations of Russia.

Yekaterina Samutsevich, the third member of Pussy Riot who was released from jail earlier this month after her sentence was suspended on appeal, spoke to Reuters in an interview about the prison camp in Mordovia, about 300 miles southeast of Moscow where her colleague Nadezhda Tolokonnikova has been sent to serve her sentence.

She said its conditions recalled the Soviet era.

“There is no hot water in Mordovia and there are only special prison clothes given out which are very cold for the weather,” said Samutsevich.

“THEY CAN DIE”

“There is no medicine. In Soviet times they thought that if people fell ill, that was their own problem … if someone gets sick and nobody helps them, they can die – unfortunately there have been such cases and they happen periodically.”

The other jailed group member, Maria Alyokhina, is bound for a prison camp in the Urals city of Perm, a location used to jail political prisoners in the Soviet era. She has not yet arrived.

Samutsevich, a small, intense 30-year-old who has worked as a computer programmer, gave the interview in a small McDonald’s in a town just outside Moscow because of concerns about her security.

The first part of the interview was filmed and took place outside in a howling cold wind because the restaurant would not allow TV cameras inside.

Samutsevich predicted that Putin’s government would in the end fall victim to mass unrest and said the clampdown on dissent now under way in Russia showed just how scared the Kremlin was.

“The system itself is crumbling,” she said. “It’s becoming more repressive … those in power have very strong fears and their behaviour is more and more wild. We could end with a total collapse like the Soviet Union.”

Putin is now starting a fresh six-year term, having won a presidential election in March with 63.6 percent of the vote. Opponents said the Kremlin’s dominance over mass media, obstacles placed in the way of the opposition, ballot-stuffing and the extensive use of government resources to garner support for Putin meant the vote was not free or fair.

Samutsevich said Pussy Riot’s top priority now was to campaign to free the band’s two imprisoned members and it would call on other members for help.

“The band doesn’t consist just of the three of us,” she said. “There’s more, way more people, around 20 members in the band.”

Putin, she said, was trying to present the sentences against the band members as “some kind of ordinary court case for an ordinary criminal charge. But this is totally wrong and he is not succeeding”.

POPULAR HOSTILITY

Polls have shown that in Russia’s predominantly conservative society, where Orthodox Christian believers are a majority, most citizens approve of the jail terms for Pussy Riot and dislike their actions. More than 40 percent in a recent poll said the women’s prison terms should have been longer.

Asked about popular hostility to the band, Samutsevich said the Kremlin had used its control of state television channels to present a distorted picture of Pussy Riot.

This obscured the band’s real purpose and its political protest message. Instead, official media emphasised constantly that the group were anti-religious blasphemers.

Viewers, she said, “didn’t see us, they didn’t hear us because the federal TV channels have done their best to cut out our speech. They would cut all the episodes from the video (of Pussy Riot performing in the cathedral) where you could hear the lyrics of the songs. And when people hear the lyrics, they immediately understand the purpose of our action.”

Opposition figures have pointed to the irony of Putin, a former KGB spy, speaking solemnly of the sanctity of religion in a country where, for decades, the Soviet Communist Party – which the Kremlin chief served for decades in his KGB role – repressed all forms of religious expression.

Pussy Riot’s protest song began with the phrase “Virgin Mary, Mother of God, banish Putin, Virgin Mary, Mother of God, banish him, we pray thee”.

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