Archive | October 31st, 2013

Developing: Possible I$raHelli Attack on Syria Air Defense Facility

NOVANEWS
By Brandon Turbeville

CHICAGO, IL - Kousay Ahmad, who emigrated from Latakia, Syria 24 years ago, demonstrates against U.S. intervention in Syria on October 13, 2013 in Chicago, Illinois. The protest was one of many scheduled around the world today under the banner 'Hands Off Syria'. (Photo by Scott Olson/Getty Images)

CHICAGO, IL – Kousay Ahmad, who emigrated from Latakia, Syria 24 years ago, demonstrates against U.S. intervention in Syria on October 13, 2013 in Chicago, Illinois. The protest was one of many scheduled around the world today under the banner ‘Hands Off Syria’. (Photo by Scott Olson/Getty Images)

 

On the heels of a reported chemical attack committed by the death squads on the Syria/Turkey border, a massive explosion has completely destroyed a Syrian air defense base in Snobar Jableh, Syria which is located near Latakia, a port city on the coast of the Mediterranean. Snobar Jableh is just south of Latakia.

The attacks allegedly were to have taken place on Wednesday night.

Although no one has publicly claimed responsibility for the explosion, both Syrian and Lebanese media are attributing the attack to Israeli forces. Even Saudi-owned Al-Arabiya is now reporting Israeli responsibility for the attacks, citing anonymous sources.

Al-Arabiya also claims that the target of the attacks were two shipments of SA-8 Surface-To-Air missiles slated for delivery to Hezbollah. The organization claims that the two targets were successfully destroyed.

Syrian news agency Dam Press is reporting that the facility was indeed heavily damaged but that there were no injuries. Business Insider claims that a Syrian security official has confirmed theattack.

However, Voice of Russia reports that Syria Special Services are denying the destruction of the base. VOA quotes a representative of Syrian intelligence services saying that “It is a lie and a provocation.”

The conflicting nature of the official responses could be attributed to the fact that, while the attack did indeed take place, the level of damage was not as severe as that claimed by death squads and Western/Israeli media outlets.

Nevertheless, the targets appear to have been relatively sophisticated missiles housed at the facility. As Yasser Okbi of Ynetnews writes,

Channel 2 News reported that the attack’s target was a S-125 surface-to-air missiles battery.

Satellite images of the area obtained by Channel 2 show the Russian-made Neva missiles, as well as a SA-3 missile battery, that also includes a command center with a radar to track the missiles’ targets and broadcasting anthenas to track the missiles as they are launched. The missiles have a range of 35km. and a 70k. warhead.

Lebanese media has reported that six planes belonging to the Israeli Air Force flew over Ayta Ash Shab, Bint Jbeil, and Marjayoun located in southern Lebanon during the night.

These reports appear to be based an official press release from the Lebanese military and assert that “the airplanes entered Lebanese airspace at around 1:40 P.M. and circled over various places before leaving over the Mediterranean Sea near Tripoli and Naqoura at 5 P.M.”

As Business Insider reports, eyewitnesses noticed a suspicious amount of aircraft activity shortly before the blast. As Michael Kelley writes,

“During the night, we noticed much aircraft activity,” an eyewitness told a Lebanese Al-Mustaqbal news outlet. “At a certain point, we were woken up by the sound of blasts and we saw a large fire and many explosions at the agricultural institute. Military and security forces arrived at the scene, put out the flames, and closed off the entire area for kilometers.”

In addition, reports are also suggesting that the missiles which hit the Syrian Air Defense facility came from the sea.

Yet, while claims over Israeli responsibility for the attack can, at this point, only be considered speculation, all evidence does seem to point in the direction of Israel. Indeed, the track record of the Israelis lends a great deal of credence to the charges.

It is important to remember that Israel has launched attacks against Syrian forces and military convoys on at least four different occasions during the course of the current crisis.

In addition, it is generally understood that Israel was responsible for an attack on a shipment of missiles that were on their way from Syria to Lebanon last week, although the exact location – whether on Syrian or Lebanese soil – is still uncertain.

 

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Expendable People: Economics, a “Murderous Science”

NOVANEWS
Global Research

The English who settled America brought English culture with them. The colonies were nothing but little Englands. When the colonists revolted, they were merely trying to get free of the tyrannical English monarchy, not trying to change the culture. They were perfectly happy with the English way of life. They carried on its practices and adopted the English system of common law.

That sixteenth century culture is alive and well in America today and is why America is in many respects a backward nation. Americans are living 500 years behind the times.

One would like to believe that human institutions exist to enhance the lives of people, but there is very little evidence to support that view. If enhancing the lives of people is not the purpose of human institutions, what is? The American Constitution lists six goals the founders expected the nation to accomplish:

We the People of the United States, in Order to (1) form a more perfect Union, (2) establish Justice, (3) insure domestic Tranquility, (4) provide for the common defence, (5) promote the general Welfare, and (6) secure the Blessings of Liberty to ourselves and our Posterity, do ordain and establish this Constitution for the United States of America.

Unfortunately, no American government has ever tried to govern in a way that seeks to attain these goals. So the American government is either an unconstitutional, failed state or else the framers of the Constitution must be thought of as having engaged in unrealistic political propaganda. At any rate, the American government is not what the Constitution makes it out to be. The question is why? The answer is the stupid political economy!

The English who settled America brought English culture with them. The colonies were nothing but little Englands. When the colonists revolted, they were merely trying to get free of the tyrannical English monarchy, not trying to change the culture. They were perfectly happy with the English way of strife. They carried on its practices and adopted the English system of common law.

That sixteenth century culture is alive and well in America today and is why America is in many respects a backward nation. Americans are living 500 years behind the times.

The English were engaged in economic activities for hundreds of years before Adam Smith published his An Inquiry into the Nature and Causes of the Wealth of Nation; all he did was provide English merchants with a rationalization for what they had always done and wanted to do more of. Laissez-faire (let [them] do), to them, meant the ability to engage in economic practices without being subjected to governmental restrictions and tariffs. Then, like today, merchants wanted the freedom to profiteer by buying cheap and selling dear. Merchants, then or now, have had little interest in abstruse economic theory unless its models promise greater profit.

But buying cheap and selling dear applies to labor as well as materials, and the classical economists provide a rationalization for that maxim too. The subsistence theory of wages, advanced by classical economists, holds that the market price of labour always tends toward the minimum required for subsistence (that is, for basic needs such as food and shelter). Even Alfred Marshall, America’s first modern economist, was of the opinion that wages in the long run would tend to equal maintenance and reproduction costs. So when the Republican party seeks to eliminate regulations and keep the minimum wage low, they are acting just like sixteenth century English merchants and their boot-licking economists. Merchants become sheep dogs that herd human sheep, and our economists think nothing of it. They have adopted the British way of strife totally.

Although this impoverishment of labor is bad enough, in a globalized economy it is devastating. The classical economists held that a subsistence wage had to be high enough to enable the workforce to reproduce itself in order to maintain a labor supply; in a globalized economy, the workforce needed exists in underdeveloped countries. A domestic workforce is entirely unnecessary, so there is no need to even grant it subsistence wages or any other humane benefit. From a merchants’/economists’ point of view, domestic labor becomes expendable. Why pay it anything at all?

What a lovely world our economists advocate! Economics is not merely a dismal science, it is a murderous one.

Merchants and economists constitute a class of totally inhumane human beings. (Isn’t inhumane human a contradiction?) It seems as though two entirely different races have intermingled—the human race and an inhumane one. In the words of Pope Francis,

“A savage capitalism has taught the logic of profit at any cost . . . of exploitation without thinking of people.”

What kind of person would support this economy? Although they may revel in their fortunes and often act and speak like the rest of us, they are not like us. They are evil to the marrow of their bones. Logically, the inhumane are either not human or deranged.

One such person is Arnaud Costinot, an MIT economist, who uses the doctrine of comparative advantage to justify globalization. He is said to hold this:

“Ricardo thought that instead of trying to produce a wide range of goods, countries could grow by specializing in the goods they could produce most cheaply, and then trading those goods with other countries. This made sense, Ricardo claimed, even when a country could make multiple products more cheaply, in absolute terms, than other countries.

How? Suppose, Ricardo posited, that England produces cloth more cheaply than wine, while Portugal produces wine more cheaply than cloth. And suppose Portugal produces both products more cheaply than England does. Both countries could still benefit from trading in equal terms: England could specialize in making cloth, and trade that for wine. But Portugal could specialize in making wine, and trade that for England’s cloth — which would be the cheapest way to acquire cloth, even if Portugal’s own cloth was cheaper to make than England’s.”

Only thing is, Ricardo never wrote any such thing, and to describe what he wrote in this way is intellectual dishonesty at its worst. Ricardo never uses the word “cheaply.” He uses “the number of man hours needed to produce one unit of cloth or wine,” ‘Man hours worked’ is not a wage or a value of currency. The production may not be cheap. By deliberately misstating what Ricardo writes, economists advocate the exploitation and impoverishment of workers and ultimately their destruction—a truly evil and inhumane goal.

This is the only explanation for the right wing’s war on the poor. Beasts of burden are disposed of when they have lost their usefulness, so destroying the middle class is not to be lamented. When the labor of underdeveloped countries became available to manufacturers, the American middle class became expendable. That is the American Republican party’s goal. It seeks to shrink the size of government by eliminating the people who need to be taken care of.

Economists want us to believe that free trade makes everyone richer, but experience teaches us otherwise.

The Internet is replete with articles both pro and con, but the attitudes of people to offshoring is quite consistent. The peoples in underdeveloped nations involved in making products for the West chafe at the extent of the exploitation. Whether in Latin America, Bangladesh, Malaysia, the Philippines, the Czech Republic, or Poland exploited labor is never described as prosperous. Neither has prosperity blessed America’s laborers. Exploitation and prosperity are alien concepts. The exploited are never prosperous and the prosperous are never exploited. No nation can boast of its prosperity gotten by offshoring. The empirical evidence gotten anecdotally is better than the dubious statistical evidence cited by economists (see The Real Cost of Offshoring.) India’s laborers are not getting rich working for American companies. NAFTA has not brought prosperity to Mexican or American workers. A low-wage job is not a gainful (prosperous) one. Marx asked workers of the world to unite; Western corporate leaders tell them to be damned. Any economist who does not see what is happening is intellectually blind. Or perhaps, just plain evil.

In The Story so Far, the Economist put it this way:

ONCE UPON A time the rich world’s manufacturing firms largely produced in the rich world for the rich world, and most services were produced close to where they were consumed. Then Western firms started sending manufacturing work abroad on a large scale. By the 1980s this was well established. The movement was overwhelmingly in one direction: away from rich countries to places where workers with adequate skills were much cheaper.

Whether openly stated or not, lower labour costs were almost always the chief rationale.

To corporations, workers are likened to beasts of burden and the economic elite who advocate this economic practice are then likened to vicious dogs. What a wonderful world! It will not change until the welfare of mankind, rather than profit, becomes the goal of political-economy. If the human race is to survive, the welfare of human beings must be the goal of human institutions.

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Civil-Military Cooperation

NOVANEWS

By Sajjad Shaukat

It is regrettable that in the recent years, instead of appreciating Pak Army and Chief of the

Army Staff Gen. Ashfaq Parvez Kayan, some pseudo-intellectuals, political entities and media

anchors have been acting upon a negative campaign against military and its top leadership. By

showing unrealistic approach, these detractors have manipulated various cases like Memogate

Scandal, Mehrangate Issue, case of the missing persons etc. including deteriorating law and order

In this regard, let us take the example of Balaochistan. By taking advantage of the judicial

activism, these internal entities have been exploiting this case. While the truth behind human

rights violations, the missing persons and aggravated law and order situation of Balochistan

is that foreign-backed militant groups which have been fighting for secession of Balochistan

kidnapped and massacred many innocent people and the personnel of the security forces. Many

persons in the province have also been killed in suicide attacks and bomb blasts, planted by

these outfits. On a number of occasions, these insurgents groups claimed responsibility for their

A majority of the disappeared individuals are also in the detention centres (Farrari Camps) which

are being run by Baloch feudal lords (Sardars) who are fighting for their so-called prestige,

status and influence, and want to continue old system of feudalism in the province. However,

these separatist elements which have brought about unrest in Balochistan have tried to create rift

between the top leadership of Army and the Judiciary.

Nevertheless, services of military cannot be ignored, whose leadership has made strenuous

efforts to develop the infrastructure in Balochistan, providing the people employment

opportunities to bring the Balochis in the mainstream of the country. In this context, Pak Army

has not only established schools and colleges, but also set up technical and industrial institutes in

the province, besides giving military training to the youth.

Similarly, army has been called in aid of civil power to conduct counter-insurgency operations

and maintain order. Countless nation-building projects undertaken by the armed forces speak

of their commitment and devotion towards national cause and sense of duty. Soldiers have

done great service in the uplift of people of Khyber Pakhtoonkhwa, Gigit-Baltistan, and other

far-flung areas of Pakistan by completing development works well in time. They deserve

appreciation for all these good deeds.

No doubt, Pakistan’s armed forces have been the redeeming saviours of nation under all

circumstances. They are prepared to defend Pakistan’s frontiers and always reach out to all

citizens of Pakistan during catastrophic period, especially when the nation is hit by floods,

earthquakes and natural calamities. Every year, when rainy season comes, people look towards

army soldiers who remain on rescue missions to save their lives and property. During the recent

floods, the emotional episodes and heart-shaking stories, covering tragic scenes of rescue

missions undertaken by troops of Pak Army are still haunting us all.

It is mentionable that Gen. Kayani did not interfere in Gen. Pervez Musharraf’s case. And during

Swat and Malakand military operations, he proved his professional qualities, by ejecting the

Taliban out of Swat, Dir and other affected areas.

Besides, during many crises like Dr Tahirul Qadri’s long march, Osama episode etc., these

detractors spread rumours that martial law could be imposed in the country, but Gen. Ashfaq

Parvez Kayani remained firm on his principle of non-interference in political process. It was

first time in Pakistan’s history that a new precedent has been made, as an elected government

As regards civil-military cooperation, stressing upon national unity, Gen. Kayani said on June

9, 2011, “Any effort to create division between important institutions of the country is not in

national interest…the people of Pakistan whose support the army has always considered vital

for its operations against terrorists.” In the recent past, he repeated similar views about media

speculations of military operation in North Waziristan, while rejecting the US undue pressure in

Recently, Gen. Ashfaq Parvez Kayani repeatedly stated that the country was passing through a

very critical phase and “is pitched against an amorphous enemy, while the conventional threat

has also grown manifold.” He explained that internal challenge like terrorism could be defeated

through collective national efforts, and the armed forces had a pivotal role to play in harmony

Notably, after obtaining consensus of the mainstream political parties in the All Parties

Conference (APC), held on September 9, 2013, the government led by Prime Minister Nawaz

Sharif had decided to start peace process with the militants, particularly of the Tehreek-e-Taliban

While, taking cognizance of the latest terror-attacks of the TTP, PM Sharif and Gen Kayani

agreed to reject any pre-condition by the insurgents, which was disclosed in their statements.

However, it shows coordination between civil-military relations.

Unfortunately, some internal entities have been distorting the image of Pak Army and Gen.

Kayani by invalidating latter’s efforts, who has set a precedent to think positively—respect rule

of law, help democracy to flourish, improve civil-military ties, restrain in the most tempting

environment to interfere in government’s affairs, and to make the Army a professional outfit by

disengaging it from civilian responsibilities.

But speaking in the tone of anti-Pakistan elements, our media have ignored the sacrifices of

Pakistan’s armed forces regarding country’s security and against terrorism. The so-called media

commentators who want to please some political stalwarts have not only been demoralizing the

Army, but have also been misguiding the general masses, while setting aside the services of

While, the entire nation is appreciative of General Kayani’s merited achievements, the critics

seem to have developed some kind of acrimonious jealousy against him.

Gen. Kayani who is soon retiring from his job, suggested to the entire politico-military

leadership to improve civil-military relations in a balanced manner and concentrate on real issues

to help provide relief to poor masses.

Nonetheless, propaganda against the Army must be curbed, as civil-military cooperation must be

encouraged in wake of multiple threats to Pakistan.

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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The Victory Hour

The Victory Hour Oct 30, 2013

by crescentandcross

tvh-oct-30-2013.mp3

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

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I$raHelli lawyers group Shurat HaDin unmasked as Mossad proxy

NOVANEWS
Submitted by Asa Winstanley
131024-leitner.jpg

Nitsana Darshan-Leitner

(Wikipedia)

The director of a supposedly independent group of Israeli lawyers privately admitted to a US embassy official it acted as a proxy for the Israeli government, a leaked US embassy cable shows.

Nitsana Darshan-Leitner confided in 2007 that her Shurat HaDin group in the past “took direction … on which cases to pursue” and still “receives evidence” from the Mossad and from Israel’s National Security Council.

This is in direct contradiction to public claims, such as on its website which states it is a “fully independent” organization “unaffiliated with any political party or governmental body.”

The group has fought several high-profile lawfare cases against Palestine solidarity activists around the world in recent years.

Mossad lead

The leaked cable was unearthed by lobbying transparency outfit SpinWatch in an article earlier this month. It was one of the US embassy cables leaked by former US soldier Chelsea (formerly Bradley) Manning in 2010 and published by WikiLeaks in 2011.

The cable’s author quotes Darshan-Leitner as explaining the government’s rationale for using a proxy rather than going to local courts directly: “The National Security Council (NSC) legal office saw the use of civil courts as a way to do things that they are not authorized to do.”

“Among her contacts, Leitner listed Udi Levy at the NSC and Uzi Beshaya at the Mossad, both key [US] Embassy contacts on anti-terrorist finance cooperation,” wrote the unnamed official who apparently authored the cable after meeting with Leitner in 2007.

The NSC is an Israeli military planning body led by generals and other senior military figures — including top Mossad figures.

At the time of the cable was written, the NSC’s head was Ilan Mizrahi, a former deputy chief of Mossad.

Nitsana Darshan-Leitner and Shurat HaDin did not reply to an email sent yesterday seeking comment on the issues raised in this article.

Who are Shurat HaDin?

Shurat HaDin, also known as The Israel Law Center, paints itself as a “civil rights” group. Italso claims to be a “world leader in combating the terrorist organizations and the regimes that support them through lawsuits litigated in courtrooms around the world.”

But more recently a primary focus has been lawsuits against Palestine solidarity activists.

A main section of its website is dedicated to regular “BDS Updates” on the boycott, divestment and sanctions campaign — which it describes as “having a perilous impact on Israel’s security and diplomatic capabilities.”

Sensationally dubbed “The Ultimate Mission to Israel,” it also runs an annual tour of Israeli military bases, courts, prisons, settlements and “the controversial Security Fence.” This year’s “mission” happens to be taking place this week.

At a cost of about $3,000 per person, it promises the chance to meet Israeli soldiers and officers, undercover collaborators, cabinet ministers and to “observe a trial of Hamas terrorists in an IDF military court.”

Unsurprisingly this promised rogues gallery also includes “briefings by Mossad officials and commanders of the Shin Bet.

In 2011, Max Blumenthal discovered that a major funder for Shurat HaDin was John Hagee, the anti-Semitic Christian Zionist mega-pastor.

Harassing activists

Palestine solidarity activists are not exactly flush with cash, so civil litigation against them can hardly be a profitable affair. Therefore, the revelation that Shurat HaDin is a proxy for Israeli government agencies fits perfectly with its mode of operation.

It has been involved in several high profile cases of legal harassment against activists around the world.

In Australia, Shurat HaDin is threatening to sue two academics at the University of Sydney’s Center for Peace and Conflict Studies who dared to support the academic boycott of Israel.

Shurat HaDin filed a complaint against Jake Lynch and Stuart Rees with the Human Rights Commission, but it was terminated in September. However, the Mossad-linked group is now threatening to take the case to federal court before a deadline on Monday.

Antony Loewenstein, Sydney-based independent journalist and author, told me in an email:

There is growing realization amongst hardline Zionist groups that critics of Israel and its brutal occupation are winning over the public across the world … [so] groups such as Shurat HaDin dare to pursue legitimate advocates of Palestinian justice. In Australia, with barely any public support … the tiny organization is attempting to shut down the few outspoken backers of BDS through tribunals and the courts. Public opinion polls now show in Australia that a majority of the population supports Palestine so Shurat HaDin are fighting a losing battle.

“No basis for any action”

In the US, Shurat HaDin tried to pursue a very similar case against a California State University, Northridge mathematics professor.

As reported by The Electronic Intifada last year, a Shurat HaDin front group asked California’s Attorney General to investigate and prosecute David Klein for the supposed crime of hosting a pro-boycott web page on university servers.

The Attorney General’s office found there was “no basis for any action,” but a second anti-Palestinian group renewed this harassment of Klein last month.

In 2011, activists planning a siege-busting flotilla to Gaza were foiled by anonymous legal harassment filed against the boats while docked in Greece. It was discovered that Shuarat HaDin had been behind this complaint.

“Israel needs to invade the Hague”

Director Nitsana Darshan-Leitner, a winner of the 2012 Moskowitz Prize for Zionism, likes to portray herself as a “civil rights” activist, but this is a pretty thin veneer.

In 2009, Darshan-Leitner wrote an op-ed in The Jerusalem Post entitled “Israel needs to invade The Hague” — a headline intended quite literally.

The article lamented that Israeli officers are increasingly fearful of being arrested in war crimes cases while traveling the world. She argued for aggressive military action to be taken against the International Criminal Court should it ever hold any suspected Israeli war criminal.

She demanded a law allowing Israel “to utilize all necessary force to resist any effort to arrest IDF [sic – Israeli military] officers accused of war crimes anywhere in the world.Foreign countries should be made to understand we mean business.”

This hawkish attitude is no surprise considering her group’s strong links to Israeli spooks.

In a Washington, DC panel last year, she spoke about her group’s rationale in a very similar way as in the leaked cable. She explained Israel’s need for an arms-length approach: “The Israeli government has some constraints, has some problems: they have to be politically correct. They have foreign relationships, they have international treaties they are signed of [sic] and they cannot do what private lawyers can do.”

In her 2012 speech, she also boasted that thanks to what she claimed as one of Shurat HaDin’s successes that “there is no banking system in Gaza” now. She also denigrated the entire Gaza Strip, of more than 1.6 million people, as a “terror zone.”

Interestingly, she also boasted about “How we stopped the flotilla to Gaza.”

Killers

The Mossad is Israel’s secret international terrorism wing, notorious for car bombings, assassinations and kidnappings — especially of Palestinian and Arab activists and fighters.

In a 2011 interview, Mizrahi (who was head of the NSC at the same time Darshan-Leitner admitted to working closely with the body) all but admitted that Mossad had assassinated scientists in Iran: “the Mossad has a heritage of being ruthless, an ability to penetrate deep — yes. I think that the Mossad has it all over the Middle East and beyond.”

What kind of “civil rights” group takes its lead from a deadly state intelligence apparatus?

Shurat HaDin is quoted in the international press as if it were a civil rights group or just blandly as “an Israel law center,” as one Guardian article put it in May, stating that Stephen Hawking was “accused of hypocrisy” (by Shurat HaDin).

These revelations should make journalists such Harriet Sherwood far more sceptical about taking Shurat HaDin’s claims to be “independent” at face value.

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Nazi Forces Use Excessive Force Killing Palestinian Civilian in Qabatya Village near Jenin

NOVANEWS

 

In an excessive use of force, on Thursday morning, 31 October 2013, Israeli forces killed a Palestinian civilian in Qabatya village, southeast of the northern West Bank town of Jenin. 

According to investigation conducted by the Palestinian Center for Human Rights (PCHR), at approximately 01:00 on Thursday, 31 October 2013, Israeli force moved into Qabatya village, southeast of Jenin.  They stationed in the eastern part of the village.  They raided a house belonging to the family of Emad Shawkat Kmail, 30, and arrested him.  They then moved towards the western part of the village.   There, they raided a number of houses and arrested 3 Palestinian civilians: Rassem Tawfiq Khzaimiya, 60; Mo’men Saba’na, 23; and Ayman Abdul Rahman Abu al-Rub, 28.  At approximately 05:00, while Israeli forces were withdrawing from the village taking the detainees, a number of young men gathered at the western entrance of the village.  They blocked it with iron barriers and set fire to tires. When Israeli forces passed by the area, the young men threw stones and empty bottles at them.  Immediately, Israeli soldiers fired tear gas canisters and sound bombs at the young men.  They then fired live ammunition directly at the young men.  As a result, Ahmed Emad Youseg Tazaz’a, 22, was seriously wounded by a bullet to the heart.  He was immediately evacuated to al-Razi Hospital in Jernn, but medical efforts to save his life failed.  He was pronounced dead at approximately 06:00. 

PCHR is deeply concerned over this crime, which further proves the use of excessive force by Israeli forces against the Palestinian civilians in disregard for the civilians’ lives. Therefore, PCHR calls upon the international community to take immediate and effective actions to put an end to such crimes and reiterates its call for the High Contracting Parties to the Fourth Geneva Convention of 1949 to fulfill their obligations under Article 1; i.e., to respect and to ensure respect for the Convention in all circumstances, and their obligation under Article 146 to prosecute persons alleged to commit grave breaches of the Fourth Geneva Convention.  These grave breaches constitute war crimes under Article 147 of the same Convention and Protocol (I) Additional to the Geneva Conventions.

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Nazi forces continue systematic attacks against Palestinian civilians and property in the occupied Palestinian territory (oPt)

NOVANEWS

 

  • A Palestinian child was wounded during an Israeli incursion in Taqou’ village, southeast of Bethlehem.
  • An Israeli warplane attacked Bader training site in the Gaza Strip, but no casualties were reported.
  • Israeli forces have continued to use excessive force against peaceful protesters in the West Bank.

–       3 Palestinian civilians, including a photographer, were wounded during Bil’in and Kofur Qaddoum weekly protests.

–       Dozens of civilians suffered tear gas inhalation.

  • Israeli forces conducted 61 incursions into Palestinian communities in the West Bank and 2 limited ones in the Gaza Strip.

–       At least 49 Palestinian civilians, including 2 children, were arrested.

–       The detainees include 2 PLC members and a number of active students affiliated to Hamas.

  • Israel has continued to impose a total closure on the oPt and has isolated the Gaza Strip from the outside world.

–       Israeli forces established dozens of checkpoints in the West Bank.

–       At least 6 Palestinian civilians were arrested at checkpoints in the West Bank.

  • Israeli navy forces have continued targeting Palestinian fishermen in the sea.

–       Israeli forces opened fire at Palestinian fishing boats, but neither casualties nor material damage were reported.

  • Israeli has continued to create Jewish majority in occupied East Jerusalem.

–       Israeli forces demolished 2 residential buildings in Beit Hanina village and 2 rooms in Jabal al-Mukaber neighbourhood, rendering 33 Palestinian civilians homeless.

  • Israeli forces have continued to support settlement activities in the West Bank and Israeli settlers have continued to attack Palestinian civilians and property.

–       Israeli forces issued notices to demolish houses and civilian facilities in area (C)[1].

–       Settlers continued their attacks against Palestinian civilians and their property.

–       121 olive and almond trees were uprooted and burnt in Nablus and Bethlehem.

Summary

Israeli violations of international law and international humanitarian law in the oPt continued during the reporting period (24 – 30 October 2013).

Shooting:

During the reporting period, Israeli forces wounded 4 Palestinian civilians, including a child in the West bank; 3 of whom were wounded during peaceful protests against the construction of the annexation wall in the West Bank, while the child was wounded during an Israeli incursion in Taqou’ village, southeast of Bethlehem. In the Gaza Strip, Israeli forces continued to attack Palerstinian fishermen in the sea.

In the West Bank, on 29 October 2013, Israeli forces wounded a Palestinian child when they conducted an incursion in Taqou’ village, southeast of Bethlehem. Israeli forces fired flash bombs overheads, in response to which a number of boys gathered and threw stones at Israeli soldiers, who fired rubber-coated metal bullets. As a result, the aforementioned child was wounded by a bullet to the back. He was taken to al-‘Ahli hospital in Hebron.

During the reporting period, Israeli forces continued the systematic use of excessive force against peaceful protests organised by Palestinian, Israeli and international activists against the construction of the annexation wall and settlement activities in the West Bank. As a result, 3 Palestinian civilians, including photographer of the Popular Committee against the Annexation Wall and Settlement Activities in Bil’in, were wounded.

In the context of targeting fishermen in the sea, Israeli gunboats stationed in the sea opened fire at Palestinian fishing boats twice on 24 and 27 October 2013.

On 28 October 2013, an Israeli warplane launched a missile at Bader training site of Izziddin al-Qassam Brigades (the armed wing of Hamas). The site that was attacked several times previously is located to the west of al-Maqousi apartment buildings, north of Gaza City. No casualties were reported.

The full report is available online at:

http://www.pchrgaza.org/portal/en/index.php?option=com_content&view=article&id=9880:weekly-report-on-israeli-human-rights-violations-in-the-occupied-palestinian-territory-24-30-october-2013-&catid=84:weekly-2009&Itemid=183

 

Posted in Palestine AffairsComments Off on Nazi forces continue systematic attacks against Palestinian civilians and property in the occupied Palestinian territory (oPt)

Palestinian NGO statement on the World Bank-sponsored Red-Dead Sea Canal

NOVANEWS

The undersigned Palestinian NGOs call on the Palestine Liberation Organization (PLO) and the Palestinian National Authority (PNA) to halt all forms of cooperation with the World Bank-sponsored Red Sea – Dead Sea Conveyance Project (RSDSCP) and to take an unequivocal public stance of rejection to the project. It has become clear beyond doubt that the project is an unacceptable attempt to force the Palestinian population to consent to their own dispossession and to compromise on their own rights. Any lack of a clear position by the Palestinian leadership on this outrageous project, any stand of ambiguity or positive criticism towards it, contributes to the impunity that for far too long has allowed Israel to appropriate Palestinian water and deny Palestinians their rights.

 

Five reasons why the RSDSCP must be rejected:

 

1.     The project undermines Palestinian water rights and legitimizes Palestinian dispossession from the Jordan River. Israel unilaterally controls the flow from the upper Jordan River and prevents Palestinians from making use of their rightful share of the lower river’s water. This is the sole cause for the gradual disappearance of the Dead Sea. Instead of addressing Israel’s water theft, the project aims to maintain the unjust status-quo of the river and allegedly “save” the Dead Sea through large scale Red Sea water transfer.

2.     The project attempts to replace the river’s natural fresh water appropriated by Israel from the upper Jordan River with desalinated Red Sea water sold at high costs to severely water-dispossessed Palestinians and at pitiful quantities. Even these sales remain merely an “option” and the World Bank studies plan to ‘supply’ only Jericho, which is currently the only water-rich place in the occupied West Bank. With every drop of water that Palestinians purchase, they capitulate to their own deprivation.

3.     Neither the World Bank’s Feasibility Study (FS) nor its Environmental & Social Assessment study (ESA) address the grave damage to the West Bank Eastern Aquifer, currently the only source Palestinians have for water supply and development. The Eastern aquifer is rapidly depleting, and its water table is dropping at an alarming rate – both as a direct result of the shrinking Dead Sea. Consenting to the project entails closing an eye to the rapid destruction of the only other water resource in the Eastern West Bank. Instead, Israel should be held accountable for the damage it caused to this vital resource on which over 1 million Palestinians currently depend.

4.     Far from “saving the Dead Sea”, the RSDSCP will actually destroy the unique features of the Dead Sea and its ecosystem.  Under the project, the Dead Sea is slated to turn into a dead, engineered pool of Red Sea water and desal brines, destroying this Palestinian and world heritage site.

5.     Both Red-Dead studies (FS & ESA) and the entire conduct of the World Bank lack credibility and transparency, and make a mockery of the alleged consultation and participation process. Throughout the process, the Bank has systematically turned a blind eye to Israeli violations of Palestinian water rights. The Bank repeatedly and deliberately ignored key concerns expressed by Palestinians since the project’s inception and during the “consultation” meetings in severe breach of its very own Code of Conduct, as well as the project’s Terms of Reference. In addition, the Bank management has so far refused to make public the results of the Feasibility and ESA studies. The World Bank’s actions are tantamount to a cover-up.  

 

Palestinian civil society organizations reiterate their rejection of the Red Sea – Dead Sea Conveyance Project and invite Palestinians of all walks to demand that the PLO and the PNA honor their aspirations for self-determination and justice by voicing a clear, loud and unequivocal “No!” to the Red-Dead Sea scam. This project can only result in further damaging and undermining Palestinian water rights and all cooperation with it should cease immediately. Reparation and compensation for past damages and respect for Palestinian water rights are long overdue and the only way forward.

 

Endorsing organizations and individuals:

1.     Palestinian Environment NGO Network (PENGON)

2.     MAAN  Development Center

3.     Palestinian Wastewater Engineers Group (PalWEG)

4.     Stop the Wall

5.     Palestinian Farmers Union

6.     Applied Research Institute Jerusalem (ARIJ)

7.     Land Research Center

8.     Media Environmental Center

9.     Palestine Hydrology Group (PHG)

10.  Palestinian Agricultural Relief Committees (PARC)

11.  Union of Agricultural Work Committees (UWAC)

12.  Environmental Education Center (EEC)

13.  Institute of Environmental and Water Studies – Birziet University

14.  Palestinian Center for Human Rights (PCHR)

15.  Palestinian Environment Friends (PEF)

16.  Arab Center for Agricultural Development (ACAD)

17.  Earth and Human Center for Research and Studies (EHCRS)

18.  Palestinian Farmers Association

19.  The Arab Agronomists Association (AAA)

20.  Prof. Dr. Hilmi S. Salem, Palestine Technical University – Kadoorie (PTUK)

21.  Clemens Messerschmid, Hydrologist

22.  Prof. Dr. Samir Afifi, Environmental & Earth Sciences Department, Islamic University of Gaza

 

Posted in Palestine AffairsComments Off on Palestinian NGO statement on the World Bank-sponsored Red-Dead Sea Canal

U.N. to Launch Global Asteroid Warning and Response Network

NOVANEWS
By Shepard Ambellas

The United Nations General Assembly met last week on the matter of a new asteroid detection and deflection network that will be tied to space agencies, astronomers, scientists and military units worldwide.

This artist concept illustrates how a massive collision of objects, perhaps as large as the planet Pluto, smashed together to create the dust ring around the nearby star Vega. New observations from NASA's Spitzer Space Telescope indicate the collision took place within the last one million years. Astronomers think that embryonic planets smashed together, shattered into pieces, and repeatedly crashed into other fragments to create ever finer debris. In the image, a collision is seen between massive objects that measured up to 2,000 kilometers (about 1,200 miles) in diameter. Scientists say the big collision initiated subsequent collisions that created dust particles around the star that were a few microns in size. Vega's intense light blew these fine particles to larger distances from the star, and also warmed them to emit heat radiation that can be detected by Spitzer's infrared detectors. (Image: Wikimedia Commons)

This artist concept illustrates how a massive collision of objects, perhaps as large as the planet Pluto, smashed together to create the dust ring around the nearby star Vega. New observations from NASA’s Spitzer Space Telescope indicate the collision took place within the last one million years. Astronomers think that embryonic planets smashed together, shattered into pieces, and repeatedly crashed into other fragments to create ever finer debris. (Image: Wikimedia Commons)

 

(INTELLIHUB) — After the recent Russian meteor scare, the implementation of a standardized asteroid detection and deflection network comes in wake of interagency and White House documentation stating that indeed the potential for a future asteroid strike is possible and warranted based on the earth’s strike history. For whatever reason, it seems that agencies in-the-know are gearing up for a potential impact and possibly imminent impact in the future.

The Los Angeles Times reported, “The U.N. will also set up a space mission planning advisory group to look into how humans might deflect an asteroid heading our way — the best options, the costs and the technologies needed. The results of that study will be shared with space agencies throughout the world.

The General Assembly also agreed that the  existing U.N. Committee on the Peaceful Uses of Outer Space would monitor threats from asteroids and help plan and authorize a deflection campaign if necessary.

These measures were based in part on recommendations from the Association of Space Explorers, a  professional society of astronauts and cosmonauts. The group, made up entirely of people who have flown in the space, submitted a report to the U.N. in 2009 titled “Asteroid Threats: A Call for Global Response.” The report outlined steps for how the U.N. could help prevent a dangerous asteroid strike.”[1]

 

Sources:

[1] UN aims to fight asteroids, creates a global warning network – LATimes.com

Posted in WorldComments Off on U.N. to Launch Global Asteroid Warning and Response Network

India: Taken Over by Foreign Banks?

NOVANEWS
Global Research

On October 12, Raghuram Rajan, the new Governor of the Reserve Bank of India, announced that the RBI will soon issue new rules allowing a more liberal entry of foreign banks in India. “That is going to be a big opening because one could even contemplate taking over Indian banks, small Indian banks and so on,” he stated in Washington at an event organized by the Institute of International Finance, a global banking lobby group.

The announcement of a reversal of long-standing regulatory policy for banking at an event organized by a lobby group is questionable as the wider developmental and regulatory concerns related to a liberalized entry of foreign banks are yet to be discussed in Parliament.

In the Indian context, the key policy issue is — do the benefits of foreign bank entry greatly outweigh the potential costs? Foreign banks have been operating in India for the past many decades and yet we find no evidence of the widely held notion that foreign banks add to domestic competition, increase access to financial services and ensure greater financial stability in the host countries. As witnessed during the global financial crisis of 2008, foreign banks reduced their domestic lending in India by as much as 20 per cent whereas the state-owned banks played a counter-cyclical role during the crisis.

Are Foreign Banks Discriminated in India?

It is widely believed that the entry of foreign banks in the Indian market is highly restricted and the regulatory framework discriminates against the foreign banks. Let us examine the ground realities. Currently, there are 41 foreign banks operating in India with 323 branches and 1414 ATMs. Another 46 foreign banks operate through their representative offices. It is often overlooked that even without branch licenses, foreign banks have been expanding business through off-site ATMs, non-banking finance companies and off-balance sheet exposures.

As per on-balance sheet businesses, foreign banks own 8 per cent of the total banking assets in India. However if one includes off-balance sheet businesses (e.g., forward exchange contracts and guarantees), then the ownership patterns dramatically reverse as foreign banks are the biggest players in the off-balance sheet businesses with a combined market share of 62 per cent in 2012. The total share of foreign banks as a percentage of the banking assets of India (both on- and off-balance-sheet items) was more than 40 percent in 2012.

As per India’s commitment at the World Trade Organisation, licenses for new foreign banks may be denied when the share of foreign banks’ assets in domestic banking system (including both on- and off-balance-sheet items) exceeds 15 per cent. Till date, India has not invoked the WTO commitments to deny the entry of foreign banks in the country. Rather, the number of branches permitted each year to foreign banks has been higher than the WTO commitments of 12 branches in a year.

In addition, foreign banks in India are free to undertake any banking activity (e.g., wholesale, retail, investment banking, foreign exchange, etc.) which is allowed to domestic banks. In Singapore, China and the US, strict restrictions have been imposed on the kind of businesses that could be carried out by foreign banks within their jurisdictions.

Where is Reciprocity in Market Access?

If India opens up its banking sector, how much market access Indian banks will get in return? The recent experience shows that market access to Indian banks is far from satisfactory. During 2003-07, India allowed US-based banks to open 19 branches (excluding the off-site ATMs). But, in the same period, the US did not allow a single Indian bank to open a branch or subsidiary or representative office in its territory despite many requests made by public and private sector banks.

Under the India-Singapore Comprehensive Economic Cooperation Agreement (2005), the RBI allowed market access to three Singaporean banks as per the agreement but the Monetary Authority of Singapore refused to fulfill its time-bound commitment for providing full bank license (Qualifying Full Bank status) to three Indian banks. The MAS had imposed higher qualifying standards in the form of Asset Management Ratio on the Indian banks compared to other international banks operating in Singapore. Whereas the RBI does not discriminate between foreign and domestic banks on prudential and regulatory norms.

The Urban-centric Foreign Banks

Till date, most of branches of foreign banks are located in metropolitan areas and major Indian cities where bulk of premium banking business is concentrated. As on March 2012, out of total 322 branches of foreign banks, 246 branches (76%) were located in metros, 61 (19%) in urban areas and the rest 15 (5%) in semi-urban and rural areas. It is distressing to note that foreign banks such as Standard Chartered Bank and BNP Paribas have not yet opened a single branch in the rural areas despite operating in India for more than 150 years.

Further, foreign banks are reluctant to serve the poor and low-income people residing in metropolitan and urban areas. There is no regulatory ban in India on foreign banks to serve the urban poor and low-income people.

The Niche Banking Model

Typically, foreign (and some big private banks) are averse to provide banking services to the poor people because they find such clients less lucrative. The foreign banks “cherry-pick” the most profitable businesses and affluent customers residing in the metros and urban areas.

They tend to follow “exclusive banking” by offering services to a small number of clients. The foreign banks are mainly interested in serving three niche market segments in India: up-market consumer retail finance, wealth management services and investment banking.

Several foreign banks and their lobby groups have publicly expressed their discomfort in fulfilling the mandatory priority sector lending requirements. Rather they prefer a niche banking model with no riders in terms of social and developmental banking. Hence, the real issue is not xenophobic hostility towards foreign banks but their niche business model in India devoid of social and developmental banking.

Financial Inclusion or Exclusion?

Given their business model oriented towards niche banking, will foreign banks augment the reach of the banking system to 500 million Indian citizens who do not have access to basic banking services? What specialization and international experience do foreign banks have when it comes to providing basic banking services to small farmers, landless workers and urban poor dwellers?

Recent studies have pointed out that 72 per cent of Indian farmers have no access to the formal banking system. One of the important factors behind rising farmer suicides in the countryside is lack of access to cheap credit from banks and institutional sources. Will the foreign banks open branches in the rural areas and compete with traditional moneylenders in the rural banking markets?

The contribution of foreign banks in the opening of “no frills” bank account under the financial inclusion program has been abysmal, as documented in various RBI reports. Can foreign banks be forced to meet the targets of financial inclusion for rural households, as suggested by the Committee on Financial Inclusion? Where would foreign banks open their branches in New Delhi? Friends Colony (an upmarket area of South Delhi) or Jahangirpuri (a low income group area of North Delhi)?

If the entry of foreign banks is allowed through acquisition of domestic banks, will it not lead to concentration of banking markets and loss of competition?

These are some of the important policy questions which need to be addressed before rolling out the red carpet treatment to foreign banks.

Learning from International Experiences

Research studies conducted jointly by SOMO and Madhyam (available at www.madhyam.org.in) on the impact of banking sector liberalization in South Korea and Uganda offer several important policy lessons. In South Korea, foreign bank played an eminent role in building of short-term foreign borrowings which induced financial fragility and risks in the Korean banking sector before and after the 2008 financial crisis.

In Uganda, a rapid entry of foreign banks through acquisitions and takeovers has led to a situation where rural areas remain under-banked and the bulk of bank credit goes to trade. With foreign banks controlling 87 percent of Uganda’s banking assets, the rural households in Uganda are largely dependent on informal sources of finance to meet their consumption and investment needs.

In many Latin American countries such as Brazil, Mexico and Chile, there was a considerable decline in competition in the aftermath of liberal entry of foreign banks.

The global financial crisis has put a big question mark about the efficiency, “best practices” and state-of-the-art risk management models of big international banks.

The crisis has shown how many big international banks transmitted financial shocks across countries.

Several banks (including HSBC, UBS and Credit Suisse) have recently paid billions of dollars in fines for their alleged role in Libor rate-fixing scandal, money laundering and other corrupt practices. The JPMorgan Chase has been associated with several trading scandals in the recent past and has agreed to pay $5.1 billion to settle claims that it sold bad mortgages to two government agencies of the US (Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac) ahead of the financial crisis. According to media reports, JPMorgan may end up paying as much as $13 billion to settle all the pending claims over its reckless trading and market manipulative practices. Should India give such banks a free run?

Finally, we should not forget that the Indian banking system has remained insulated from global turmoil thanks to a limited presence of foreign banks, enlarged state ownership of the banking system, and a relatively strong regulatory framework.

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