Archive | December 17th, 2013

‘Historic’: US Scholars Stand with Palestinians in Boycott of I$raHell

NOVANEWS

‘This stance in solidarity with Palestinian freedom is historic and signals a new era of engagement with colonized populations’

– Sarah Lazare

Apartheid Wall near Bethlehem, Palestine (Photo: Delayed Gratification / Flickr / Creative Commons)An association of 5,000 academics on Monday became the largest U.S. scholarly organization ever to join the boycott of Israeli academic institutions.

The American Studies Association, which calls itself “the nation’s oldest and largest association devoted to the interdisciplinary study of American culture and history,”announced Monday that its membership passed a resolution stipulating the organization “endorses and will honor the call of Palestinian civil society for a boycott of Israeli academic institutions.”

The resolution, which was introduced last year and unanimously endorsed by the ASA’s national council on November 4th, attracted an unprecedented number of voters, with 66.05% endorsing the resolution, 30.5% against, and 3.43% abstaining, according to the ASA statement.

“The overwhelming majority that voted in favor of the resolution illustrate that we refuse to lend complicity to Israel’s aggression,” Steven Salaita, associate professor of English at Virginia Tech and a member of the ASA Activism Caucus, told Common Dreams. “This stance in solidarity with Palestinian freedom is historic and signals a new era of engagement with colonized populations.”

The resolution passed with an outpouring of support from ASA members, including renowned activist, author, and scholar Angela Davis. “The similarities between historical Jim Crow practices and contemporary regimes of segregation in Occupied Palestine make this resolution an ethical imperative for the ASA,” she wrote. “If we have learned the most important lesson promulgated by Dr. Martin Luther King—that justice is always indivisible—it should be clear that a mass movement in solidarity with Palestinian freedom is long overdue.”

The ASA has faced an onslaught of criticisms and attacks from pro-Israel forces, includingcalls from former Harvard president and Obama administration official Larry Summers for a boycott of the ASA on grounds that the resolution violates academic freedom and perpetuates anti-Semitism.

Yet Alex Lubin, Director of the Center for American Studies and Research at the American University of Beirut, slammed such accusations writing last month in The Nation,

Academic freedom means very little when it takes place in a context of segregation and apartheid. Change came to the Jim Crow South not through academic dialogue, but through protest and, in some cases, through boycotts of the institutions that fostered segregation. Change came to South Africa’s apartheid system not through academic dialogue, but through protest, resistance, and an international boycott. Those of us who value academic freedom must always struggle to ensure that the world surrounding academia provides the basic human rights that enable academic life.

“The boycott resolution is intended to address a profound case of discrimination against Palestinians and is consistent with the ASA’s previous endorsement of anti-racist positions in other areas,” Lubin stated upon endorsing the resolution. “The resolution does not target Israelis, Jews, or any individuals; indeed, the ASA’s support for the boycott affirms its opposition to all forms of racial discrimination, including, but not limited to, anti-Semitism and Islamophobia.”

The call for boycott, divestment, and sanctions against Israel emerged from Palestinian civil socieity organizations in 2005 in a bid to win human rights, self-determination, and freedom from occupation for Palestinians, using tactics similar to those levied to transform apartheid South Africa.

Palestinian activist Omar Barghouti writes in The Nation that 2013 has seen great strides in the academic wing of this BDS movement:

Days ago, in a letter of support to the ASA, the University of Hawaii Ethnic Studies department became the first academic department in the west to support the academic boycott of Israel. In April, the Association for Asian-American Studies endorsed the academic boycott—the first professional academic association in the United States to do so. Around the same time, the Teachers’ Union of Ireland unanimously called on its members to “cease all cultural and academic collaboration” with the “apartheid state of Israel,” and the Federation of French-Speaking Belgian Students (FEF), representing 100,000 members, adopted “a freeze of all academic partnerships with Israeli academic institutions.” Also this year, student councils at several North American universities, including at the University of California Berkeley, called for divestment from companies profiting from Israel’s occupation.

The full text of the ASA’s resolution follows:

Whereas the American Studies Association is committed to the pursuit of social justice, to the struggle against all forms of racism, including anti-semitism, discrimination, and xenophobia, and to solidarity with aggrieved peoples in the United States and in the world;

Whereas the United States plays a significant role in enabling the Israeli occupation of Palestine and the expansion of illegal settlements and the Wall in violation of international law, as well as in supporting the systematic discrimination against Palestinians, which has had documented devastating impact on the overall well-being, the exercise of political and human rights, the freedom of movement, and the educational opportunities of Palestinians;

Whereas there is no effective or substantive academic freedom for Palestinian students and scholars under conditions of Israeli occupation, and Israeli institutions of higher learning are a party to Israeli state policies that violate human rights and negatively impact the working conditions of Palestinian scholars and students;

Whereas the American Studies Association is cognizant of Israeli scholars and students who are critical of Israeli state policies and who support the international boycott, divestment, and sanctions (BDS) movement under conditions of isolation and threat of sanction;

Whereas the American Studies Association is dedicated to the right of students and scholars to pursue education and research without undue state interference, repression, and military violence, and in keeping with the spirit of its previous statements supports the right of students and scholars to intellectual freedom and to political dissent as citizens and scholars;

It is resolved that the American Studies Association (ASA) endorses and will honor the call of Palestinian civil society for a boycott of Israeli academic institutions. It is also resolved that the ASA supports the protected rights of students and scholars everywhere to engage in research and public speaking about Israel-Palestine and in support of the boycott, divestment, and sanctions (BDS) movement.

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The Piper Report

The Piper Report Dec 16, 2013

by crescentandcross

judea

MUST HEAR PROGRAM–Hitler’s response to the infamous declaration of war against Germany by Jewish interests, translated from German and read aloud for the first time.

mcp-dec-16-2013.mp3

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

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The Victory Hour

The Victory Hour Dec 15, 2013

by crescentandcross

tvh-dec-15-2013.mp3

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

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Charity founded by Orthodox lobbyist under investigation in NY

NOVANEWS

Shiya Ostereicher probed for taking funds without giving service.

jpost.com

A nonprofit organization founded by Shiya Ostereicher, the powerful lobbyist for Agudath Israel of America, is under investigation in New York State for allegedly taking state funds while providing little in the way of actual services, The New York Post reported on Sunday.

The Post had previously revealed that a Borough Park agency called Relief Resources Inc., which ostensibly provides referrals for members of the Jewish community coping with mental illness, might be the unnamed charity that New York State announced earlier in December was under investigation for taking millions in state funds but providing seemingly little actual services. Ostereicher sits on the board of Relief Resources, as well as on the board of Refuah Resources, which lists the same address as Relief Resources and provides similar services, the Post reported.

The state’s Moreland Commission on Public Corruption noted that they had found no solid evidence of impropriety to date, but had recorded questionable practices, such as very little foot traffic outside the agency over a period of 25 days, and very few, and extremely short, telephone calls to the agency, “raising questions about how substantive the calls can actually be,” the report said.

Refuah Resources received $91,000 from the state in 2006, the Post said. A third agency, called The Student Link, is listed at the same address as Refuah and Relief Resources, and has changed its mission statement several times from helping poor children, to funding renovations for summer camps, to “defraying the costs of weddings in the Jewish community.”

The man who is listed as the president of The Students Link, Alexander Ornstein, indicated to the Post that he was not aware that he was on the board.

Ostereicher and Ornstein also sit on the board of a new healthcare center called Premium Health that receives its funding from Medicaid. Ornstein founded another health group, called Affordable Drugs, in 2004, which the Post reported applied for tax-exempt status in 2006, but the IRS has no record of the group.

In addition to founding these five nonprofits, Ostereicher, who is based in Borough Park, Brooklyn, with his family, is also immensely influential in the New York political scene. He is reportedly very close with Assembly Speaker Dov Hikind, Republican Senate Majority Leader Dean Skelos, and State Senator Simcha Felder, among others.

In 2011 Ostereicher helped enact a law that secures $18 million in New York taxpayer dollars every year for rabbinical students – a move that was highly controversial – and in 2012 helped to created the “super Jewish Senate district” of Midwood and Borough Park in Brooklyn.

Posted in USA, ZIO-NAZI1 Comment

Is NATO’s Trojan Horse Riding Toward the ‘Ukraine Spring’?

NOVANEWS

 

Ukrainian citizens have rallied in the bitter cold at Independence Square in Kiev to demand a better economic future and to protest President Viktor Yanukovych’s failure to sign an economic agreement with the EU.

But while the draft of the EU “Association Agreement” is being sold as an economic boon for Ukrainian citizens, in reality it appears to be NATO’s Trojan Horse: a massive expansion of NATO’s military position in the region. What’s more, the Agreement occurs under the cover of nebulous economic promises for a beset population hungering for better wages.

In a country where the average monthly minimum wage stands at about $150 USD, it’s not hard to understand why Ukrainians are in the streets. They do not want to be in Russia’s orbit, nor do they want to be pawns of NATO.

But is the plight of Ukrainians being exploited to usher in a new military agreement under the guise of economic reform?

For NATO, the goal is expansion. The prize is access to a country that shares a 1,426-mile border with Russia. The geopolitical map would be dramatically reshaped by the Agreement, with Ukraine serving as the new front for Western missile defense at the doorstep of Russia. Should the U.S. nuclear deal with Iran fall apart, Ukraine could be employed in larger regional disputes, too.

As an EU deal appears imminent, few people are asking questions about NATO’s role in the deal, which was meant to facilitate jobs and trade. Economic conditions in Ukraine are dire:$15 billion in IMF loans suspended, danger of default and a zero growth forecast.

While NATO is not specifically mentioned in the draft of the “Association Agreement,” the proposal, which was posted online (and translated to English here) by the Ukrainian cabinet in August, pledges convergence of foreign and security policy.

Read: NATO expansion.

For instance, in the draft of the Agreement, foreign and security policy mandates:

“The Parties shall explore the potential of military and technological cooperation. Ukraine and the European Defence Agency (EDA) will establish close contacts to discuss military capability improvement, including technological issues.”

The draft of the Agreement’s preamble links Ukraine to “ever closer convergence of positions on bilateral, regional and international issues of mutual interest” including the Common Foreign and Security Policy (CFSP) of the European Union and the Common Security and Defence Policy (CSDP) — which underscores the military nature of the agreement.

Since 22 of 28 members of the EU have NATO membership, there is little doubt that Ukraine is being drawn into the broad military arrangement with EU nations.

If the EU Agreement is ratified, Ukraine will inevitably spend a higher percentage of its GDP for military purposes, steering critical resources from social programs and job opportunities. In 2012, Ukraine’s military budget already increased 30 percent — to $2 billion, representing a comparatively low 1.1 percent of GDP. NATO members agree to spend at least 2 percent of GDP on defense.

NATO members are also under pressure to contribute more and more of their GDP to military expenditures. “It is time to move beyond the ‘2 percent rule,'” says the Center for Strategic and International Studies.

The former U.S. Ambassador to NATO, Ivo Daalder, in his farewell remarks in June, 2013,described the sentiment:

 

“The gap between American and European contributions to the Alliance is widening to an unsustainable level. Something must be done. The trends need to be reversed.”

 

When military spending goes up, domestic spending goes down. The winners are unlikely to be the people of Ukraine, but instead the “people” of Lockheed-Martin, Northrop Grumman, Boeing and other defense interests. The Ukrainians didn’t go to Independence Square to rally for NATO. Yet NATO’s benefit is clear. Less clear is whether Ukrainians will receive key economic benefits they seek.

To wit, the preamble to the Agreement is hazy on the implementation of visa-free travel for citizens of Ukraine, a crucial incentive for struggling workers seeking better jobs. The draft of the Agreement is vague, calling for the visa issue to be introduced “in due course.” It also asserts that EU nations could block the movement of self-employed Ukrainians to other job markets.

For Greece, Spain and others, EU membership hasn’t turned out to be a shining economic savior. The return of austerity policies reminds one of Naomi Klein’s warning about the perils of disaster capitalism, in which instability opens the door for exploitation from outside forces.

For the protesters in Kiev, standing tall for democracy and economic opportunity, there’s suddenly a new worry: Disaster Militarism. Ukrainians may be pro-EU, but are the EU and NATO pro-Ukrainian?

Posted in UkraineComments Off on Is NATO’s Trojan Horse Riding Toward the ‘Ukraine Spring’?

Holocaust invoked in NJ gun safety debate

NOVANEWS

holocaust

ADL’s Foxman refutes comparison of gun control ‘to the genocidal actions of the Nazi regime’

Times of Israel

ed note–pay attention to what Foxman says about ‘invoking the Holocaust’ for political reasons and how unacceptable this is.

A board member of the National Rifle Association is under fire for attacking the mayor of Jersey City for supporting gun safety proposals since “his grandparents were Holocaust survivors.”

Scott Bach, who is also the executive director of the Association of New Jersey Rifle and Pistol Clubs, in an interview on the NRA News website, criticized a proposal by Jersey City Mayor Steven Fulop to survey vendors bidding to supply firearms to local law enforcement about how they handle gun safety issues.

“His grandparents were Holocaust survivors according to Wikipedia. So you’ve got to wonder why he is not getting it,” Bach said.

Bach pointed out that the mayor, who worked for Goldman Sachs prior to 9-11, joined the Marines after the World Trade Center attack.

“No matter how strong one’s objections are to a policy, or how committed an organization is to its mission, invoking the Holocaust to score political points is offensive and has no place in civil discourse,” Abraham Foxman, national director of the Anti-Defamation League, said in a statement issued Monday.

“It is especially disturbing that in the debate over gun control in America, Holocaust analogies and references to Nazi Germany flow so freely off the lips of critics of gun control. There is absolutely no comparison of the issue of gun control in the US to the genocidal actions of the Nazi regime,” Foxman said.

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Sen. McCain, interventionism’s ‘Energizer Bunny’

NOVANEWS

Daniel McAdams is Executive Director of the Ron Paul Institute for Peace and Prosperity. He served as foreign affairs advisor to US Congressman Ron Paul (R-Texas) for 12 years.

U.S. Senator John McCain (C) waves to pro-European integration protesters during a mass rally at Independence Square in Kiev December 15, 2013. (Reuters/Gleb Garanich)U.S. Senator John McCain (C) waves to pro-European integration protesters during a mass rally at Independence Square in Kiev December 15, 2013. (Reuters/Gleb Garanich).

If there are US-backed groups anywhere seeking the overthrow of their government, you will find John McCain in their midst. He is the Energizer Bunny of interventionism.

Fresh off his trip to Libya, where he was granted an award by the military on the same day the Libyan parliament declared Sharia law, McCain was this weekend on the streets of Kiev.

McCain walked among the protestors, giving encouragement to those who have occupied and trashed government buildings in attempt to overthrow the Ukrainian government. “I am proud of what the people of Ukraine are doing,” he said.

Of course, when peaceful antiwar protesters showed up at McCain’s own Senate office in 2007, he promptly had them arrested.

For those who may not know, McCain is the long-time chairman of the US government funded International Republican Institute, which spent millions supporting the Orange Revolution 1.0 in 2004. Now McCain (and his IRI) is back for 2.0.

Along with IRI’s parent organization, the government-funded National Endowment for Democracy, and USAID, you can find the material and organizational support for the current uprising in Ukraine. Glance at the websites of opposition-oriented “NGOs” like the InformationInternews Institute of Mass Uniter, and many others and you will see the ubiquitous logos indicating US government funding of the Ukrainian opposition. You can also see the US government funded – and CIA-affiliated – Freedom House among the most prominent opposition supporters in Ukraine.

Senator McCain always seems to find himself in awkward meetings when he travels – remember thekidnappers he met in Syria who he claimed were good moderates? So it is unsurprising that upon landing in Kiev he rushed to meet Oleh Tyahnybog, a representative of one of the leading opposition political parties, Svoboda. An extreme nationalist party, Svoboda members are fond of wearing t-shirts with slogans such as “Beat the zhids!” using a derogatory term for Jews. Did they give McCain a t-shirt?

 

A handout picture released on December 10, 2013 by Ukrainian Union Opposition press services hows US Assistant secretary of State for European and Eurasian Affairs Victoria Nuland (2ndL) distributing cakes to protesters on the Independence Square in Kiev on December 10, 2013. (AFP Photo)A handout picture released on December 10, 2013 by Ukrainian Union Opposition press services hows US Assistant secretary of State for European and Eurasian Affairs Victoria Nuland (2ndL) distributing cakes to protesters on the Independence Square in Kiev on December 10, 2013. (AFP Photo).

McCain also spent time with the US-favored “Fatherland” party leader, former economy minister Arseny Yatsenyuk. Fatherland is in fact an ally of Svoboda and closely coordinated their activities in the most recent Ukrainian presidential campaign. They are considered no less anti-Semitic than Svoboda but perhaps less outwardly so.

McCain’s visit to the barricades in Kiev closely follows the visit of another US official, Assistant Secretary of State for European and Eurasian Affairs, Victoria Nuland, who made her way through the opposition compound with the US Ambassador to Ukraine, openly expressing US official support for their actions. In a show of support for those seeking to overthrow their government – and in blatant violation of diplomatic norms – Nuland was even seen handing out cookies to the opposition supporters in the street.

Later, she issued a statement in which she characterized the move to overthrow the Ukrainian government as “historic”, going on to state:

“I hope the people of Ukraine know that the United States stands with you in your search for justice, for human dignity, for security, for economic health and for the European future that you have chosen and you deserve.”

Not to be outdone, McCain released his own statement saying of the protestors:

“Those brave men and women should know that they are not alone. Their friends across the world stand in solidarity with them.”

 

U.S. Senator John McCain (R) speaks with Ukrainian opposition leader Vitaly Klitschko (L) during a mass rally by pro-European integration protesters at Independence Square in Kiev December 15, 2013. (Reuters/Gleb Garanich)U.S. Senator John McCain (R) speaks with Ukrainian opposition leader Vitaly Klitschko (L) during a mass rally by pro-European integration protesters at Independence Square in Kiev December 15, 2013. (Reuters/Gleb Garanich).

It was an echo of McCain’s infamously idiotic statement at the start of the Georgia-initiated war with Russia that “we are all Georgians now”.

Whether or not we non-Ukrainians support the opposition’s attempts to force that country into the EU bloc, one thing should be indisputable: the steady stream of US and European politicians and government officials openly encouraging Ukrainian citizens to revolt against their government is an outrageous violation of Ukrainian national sovereignty.

What would the reaction have been in the US had Russian President Vladimir Putin and the president of Iran at the time, Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, flown in to the “Occupy Wall Street” protests a few years ago and encouraged the protestors to overthrow the US government? Would the president – and the US military – have stood idly by in such a situation?

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European court: Denying Armenian ‘genocide’ is no crime

NOVANEWS

hypocrisy

European Court of Justice rules Swiss law against genocide denial violates freedom of speech.

ed note–the obvious here, although not necessary to note, is the utter hypocrisy. When will the ECJ rule in favor of ‘free speech’ when it comes to the Jews and their sacred cow? As is typical with them, there are ALWAYS 2 rules–one for them and one for the Gentiles.

jpost.com

STRASBOURG, France – Denying that mass killings of Armenians in Ottoman Turkey in 1915 were genocide is not a criminal offense, the European Court of Justice ruled on Tuesday in a case involving Switzerland.

The court, which upholds the 47-nation European Convention on Human Rights, said a Swiss law against genocide denial violated the principle of freedom of expression.

The ruling has implications for other European states such as France which have tried to criminalize the refusal to apply the term “genocide” to the massacres of Armenians during the breakup of the Ottoman empire.

A Swiss court had fined the leader of the leftist Turkish Workers’ Party, Dogu Perincek, for having branded talk of an Armenian genocide “an international lie” during a 2007 lecture tour in Switzerland.

Turkey accepts that many Armenians died in partisan fighting beginning in 1915 but denies that up to 1.5 million were killed and that it constituted an act of genocide – a term used by many Western historians and foreign parliaments.

“Genocide is a very narrowly defined legal notion which is difficult to prove,” the court said.

“Mr Perincek was making a speech of a historical, legal and political nature in a contradictory debate.”

The court drew a distinction between the Armenian case and appeals it has rejected against convictions for denying the Nazi German Holocaust against the Jews during World War Two.

“In those cases, the plaintiffs had denied sometimes very concrete historical facts such as the existence of gas chambers,” the court said. “They denied crimes committed by the Nazi regime that had a clear legal basis. Furthermore, the facts they denied had been clearly been established by an international tribunal.”

The judges cited a 2012 ruling by France’s Constitutional Council which struck down down a law enacted by then President Nicolas Sarkozy’s government as “an unconstitutional violation of the right to freedom of speech and communication”.

Switzerland has three months to appeal against the ruling.

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Once protected, Christians have become fair game in Iraq and Syria

NOVANEWS

About 45,000 Christians out of a total Christian population of 2 million have fled Syria, and the pace is increasing.

ed note–WHAT????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????

Christians in SYRIA??? One of DEM MOOOZLUM countries????? And not just a few, but as many as 2 FREAKING MILLION???????????????????????????

INCONCEIVABLE.

I guess what this means then is that all the BS spewed out by the JMSM concerning Islam’s hatred for Christianity is nothing but lies then, huh? 

Haaretz

A warning appeared on many Facebook accounts in Iraq last week: “The Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant organization intends to attack English teachers.” It’s not clear why the group, which is anAl-Qaida offshoot that operates in Syria as well, chose Iraq’s English teachers as its target, though one Facebook user who got the warning surmised that “maybe they think English teachers teach the culture of Satan, and maybe they believe that only Christians teach English.”

But there’s no maybe about the fact that radical Islamist organizations in Iraq and Syria are not just fighting the governments of those countries. They also hope to lead Iraq and Syria down the path of fundamentalist Islam. As part of that goal, they are hoping to rid those countries of their non-Muslim minorities.

“The radical organizations are now attacking [Christian] children to get their parents to leave the country,” Maria Saada, a Christian member of the Syrian parliament, warned a few days ago. “In the last few days, five Christian schools have been attacked where children have been killed.”

According to Western estimates, about 45,000 Christians out of a total Christian population of about 2 million have fled Syria, and the pace is increasing. The statistics from Iraq are even more shocking. Of a minority population that numbered about 1.2 million in the 1990s, only between 200,000 and 500,000 Christians remain in the country. And the situation of those Christians who have stayed in Iraq, where more than 6,200 people have been killed this year, is particularly difficult, with high unemployment, discriminatory religious legislation and concerns for their personal safety.

But even the option of leaving Iraq is not an easy choice. Christians seeking to emigrate have a hard time selling their property and are forced to simply leave homes and other property behind. They face an uncertain prospect when it comes to being absorbed by other Arab countries, and efforts to join Christian Iraqi communities in the West are sometimes met with hostility on the part of the communities already there.

A spokesman for Open Doors, an organization that assists victims of anti-Christian persecution around the world, said that by the year 2020, Iraq could find itself without any Christians; since the beginning of the war in Iraq, more than 1,000 Christians have been killed and 61 churches destroyed.

Free Syrian Army joining in

In Syria, most of the harm done to Christians is attributed to radical groups such as the Al-Nusra Front and the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant, but according to accounts from Syrian Christian refugees in Turkey, soldiers from the rebel anti-Assad Free Syrian Army have also been abusing Christians, killing property owners and dividing the spoils among themselves. In many instances, Christians have been forced to convert and priests have been abducted. About 40 Christians were killed in Al-Qaida attacks in the town of Sadad north of Damascus.

A particular problem for Syrian Christians is that they are perceived as supporters of President Bashar Assad and his Ba’ath regime, which during the period of his rule protected the country’s Christian community. They have therefore become fair game as targets now. The situation of Syrian Christian women, many of whom have been raped by extremist Islamists as part of the punishment meted out to the Christian population, is particularly difficult.

Many refugees from Iraq and Syria prefer to head to Europe, but find that this route involves mortal danger or huge payments of money. An investigation by London’s Daily Telegraph newspaper found huge variation in the amounts demanded by Lebanese middle men engaged in smuggling the refugees. Someone with the means pays about 6,200 British pounds ($10,115) per person, which includes the cost of a forged Syrian passport, a flight to Istanbul, transportation by tourist bus from Turkey to Bulgaria and from there to a West European country.

On the other hand, poor refugees shell out 1,200 to 1,700 British pounds for a dangerous sea voyage on a dilapidated boat to Cyprus or Greece. The smuggling industry is flourishing in Turkey, and Jordan as well. One of the smugglers told a Turkish newspaper that he prefers Christian refugees “because they have more money and they are prepared to pay more, and usually they have families in the West that are ready to help with the payment.”

Limited Western influence

Western countries are not capable of doing much to protect Christian minorities in Iraq or Syria because the degree of their influence on those countries is very limited. And even when the leadership in the two countries promises to protect the Christians, the leaders find themselves facing other, more powerful forces. In Iraq the security forces are even accused of aiding Islamist organizations in their operations against Christian centers or individuals. And in Syria, protection of Christians – in areas controlled by the Syrian army – is a low priority.

In light of all this, news that reached Syrian refugees last week came as a particularly harsh blow. Forces with the Al-Nusra Front had taken over a military base belonging to the Free Syrian Army’s Supreme Military Council near the Bab-al-Hawa crossing on the Turkish border. The area is a major artery through which refugees and goods find their way from Syria to Turkey. Due to the takeover, Turkey decided to close the border crossing, inflicting serious hardship on the refugees from Syria, particularly the Christians among them. Now they will be forced to head for other crossing points through cities and routes controlled by the radical groups.

And last Friday, Iraq marked the 10th anniversary of the capture of Saddam Hussein. In hindsight, that was a sad day from the standpoint of his country’s Christians. It is doubtful Christians would yearn for a similar scenario in Syria.

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‘Compelling Evidence’ Says Our Universe Is a Hologram

NOVANEWS
Added by Rebecca Savastio
This is neither the website nor is it affiliated in any way with Guardian News & Media.

hologram

Our universe is a hologram. That’s the latest theory from numerous accredited scientists. In an article published recently in the science journal Nature, “compelling evidence” is provided by multiple studies that our universe may operate as a hologram. The evidence found by the studies, say experts, confirms some of the previous data found for string theory; a model for how the universe works that was born out of theoretical physics and proposed to the scientific community as far back as the 1960s.

Theoretical physicist Juan Maldacena is a prominent scientist who has made a career exploring string theory. In 1997 he developed a theory that advanced string theory and allowed physicists to reconcile laws of gravity with the growing field of quantum mechanics. These two independent branches of scientific thought were finally joined-at least in some respects-by Maldacena’s theory, which also supported the idea of our universe being a hologram. The most recent hologram studies were completed by Japanese scientist Yoshifumi Hyakutake, who led a team of colleagues at Ibaraki University.

Of course, the scientific process is always one of repeated testing. Theories get tested and re-tested; tweaked and re-tweaked until a definite consensus is reached by the scientific community and a working theory is put into place. String theory has had its detractors, but now, with two new papers validating that our universe may indeed be a hologram, string theory could be on the verge of getting an absolute proof.

While the journal Nature stopped short of calling the hologram theory a “proof” of string theory, the journal says the hologram theory provides “if not an actual proof, at least compelling evidence that Maldacena’s conjecture is true.” Maldacena himself has reviewed the papers and, regarding the findings, stated to the journal Nature:

It seems to be a correct calculation. (The papers) are an interesting way to test many ideas in quantum gravity and string theory. The whole sequence of papers is very nice because it tests the dual [nature of the universes] in regimes where there are no analytic tests.

While Hyakutake and his colleagues along with Maldacena are confident in the study’s calculations, other scientists are warning that before declaring the universe a hologram, it’s important to keep in mind a couple of key components regarding the research. First, say detractors, the study was done using theoretical models of fictional universes; not our own universe. The simulations Hyakutake and his team used, and the theory they formulated, says Slate reporter and scientist, Matthew R. Francis, do not “constitute a mathematical proof that these two systems are equivalent, and (don’t) demonstrate that similar methods can work for our real universe, but it’s a step further along in showing that the holographic principle could be fruitful in understanding the cosmos.”

Scientist Brian Koberlein, in an article entitled Why Our Universe Is Not a Hologram, comes right out and puts the smack-down on Hyakutake’s papers, saying, “The universe is not a hologram, certainly not in the way people think of holograms.” Koberlein also cited a Tweet from Astrophysicist Ethan Siegal, who mocked newspaper reporters’ headlines about Hyakutake’s research. The Tweet seemed to suggest that reporters’ headlines are too sensational, and that a better headline would be “Important idea of string theory shown not to be mathematically inconsistent in one particular way.” Luckily, however, physicists don’t have to do the job of journalists, and vice versa. There is “compelling evidence” that our universe is a hologram, say scientists, but there will always be opposing points of view until a definite consensus is reached. Until then, the research will continue, and so will the headlines.

 

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