Archive | May 16th, 2019

‘Bombshell’ Report: Internal Memos Show Trump EPA Ignored Agency Scientists’ Calls to Ban Asbestos

NOVANEWS

“If Administrator Wheeler and the Trump administration won’t act, then Congress must.”

asbestos

“All types of asbestos cause lung cancer, mesothelioma, cancer of the larynx and ovary, and asbestosis (fibrosis of the lungs),” according to the World Health Organization. (Photo: DoctorButtsMD/Flickr/cc)

In a report that elicited calls for congressional action, the New York TimesrevealedWednesday that “senior officials at the Environmental Protection Agency disregarded the advice of their own scientists and lawyers in April when the agency issued a rule that restricted but did not ban asbestos.”

“I can’t think of an easier vote for members of Congress to cast than for a bill that bans a substance responsible for the deaths of so many.”
—Melanie Benesh, EWG

Asbestos is a group of fibrous, heat-resistant minerals used in manufactured goods, particularly building materials. According to the World Health Organization, “All types of asbestos cause lung cancer, mesothelioma, cancer of the larynx and ovary, and asbestosis (fibrosis of the lungs).”

EPA Administrator Andrew Wheeler said in a statement last month that the agency’s new rule “gives us unprecedented authorities to protect public health” and block certain products from the market. However, environmental and public health advocates raised concerns at the time about loopholes that remain, with one critic calling the regulation “toothless.”

Criticism of the rule resurfaced Wednesday when the Times reported on a pair of internal EPA memos (pdf) from last August, in which more than a dozen agency experts wrote:

Rather than allow for (even with restrictions) any new uses for asbestos, EPA should seek to ban all new uses of asbestos because the extreme harm from this chemical substance outweighs any benefit—and because there are adequate alternatives to asbestos.

Melanie Benesh, legislative attorney at the Environmental Working Group (EWG), was among those who demanded action from federal lawmakers following the “bombshell” report.

“The sheer number of lives cut short and families destroyed from asbestos exposure demand nothing less than an outright ban,” Benesh said in a statement. “I can’t think of an easier vote for members of Congress to cast than for a bill that bans a substance responsible for the deaths of so many.”

The reporting came as a subcommittee of the U.S. House Committee on Energy and Commerce held a hearing Wednesday morning to consider legislation that would amend the Toxic Substances Control Act (TSCA) “to prohibit the manufacture, processing, and distribution in commerce of asbestos and asbestos-containing mixtures and articles.”

“If Administrator Wheeler and the Trump administration won’t act,” said Benesh, “then Congress must by passing this critical piece of legislation that finally bans asbestos.”

Sharing a link to the Times article on Twitter, Rep. Frank Pallone Jr. (D-N.J.), the committee’s chairman, said, “This is exactly why we need to ban asbestos and why my committee is holding a hearing today on legislation that would fully ban this toxic material.”

Rep. Frank Pallone

@FrankPallone

This is exactly why we need to ban asbestos and why my Committee is holding a hearing today on legislation that would fully ban this toxic material. https://www.nytimes.com/2019/05/08/climate/epa-asbestos-rule-scientists.html 

Debris contaminated with asbestos was removed from a burned home in Coffey Park, Calif., in 2017. 

E.P.A. Leaders Disregarded Agency’s Experts in Issuing Asbestos Rule, Memos Show

The rule, issued in April, restricted the use of asbestos, a known carcinogen, but agency scientists and lawyers had called in two memos for a ban.

nytimes.com

During the committee hearing, Pallone noted that it has been 40 years since the EPA started its work to ban asbestos under the TSCA, 30 years since the agency finalized its ban, and 28 years since the ban was struck down in court—and yet, “asbestos is still being imported into the United States, it is still being used in this country, and it is still killing about 40,000 Americans every year.”

“Twenty-eight years of frustration, of sickness, and loss,” he said. “We have known the dangers of asbestos for decades. Enough is enough.”

The hearing centered on H.R. 1603 (pdf)—also known as the Alan Reinstein Ban Asbestos Now Act of 2019. Rep. Suzanne Bonamici (D-Ore.), the bill’s sponsor, took to Twitter Wednesday to highlight a testimony from the widow of the legislation’s namesake.

After Alan Reinstein was diagnosed with mesothelioma in 2003, Linda Reinstein and Doug Larkin co-founded the Asbestos Disease Awareness Organization (ADAO). Alan Reinstein and Larkin both died in the years that followed, but Linda Reinstein remains ADAO’s president and CEO.

Suzanne Bonamici

@RepBonamici

Chairman @FrankPallone was right when he said at the beginning of today’s hearing that “enough is enough… We don’t have time for more legal maneuvering in a drawn-out court battle while tens of thousands of people are dying.” We must .

Suzanne Bonamici

@RepBonamici

The legislation is named in honor of Linda Reinstein’s husband, who lost his life to an asbestos-related disease. I am grateful to @Linda_ADAO for providing such a powerful testimony on behalf of all of the families who have hurt by asbestos. pic.twitter.com/o4l1mETFe5

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“I’m honored to have H.R. 1603 named after my husband,” Linda Reinstein told lawmakers Wednesday, “but it’s really for the hundreds of thousands of Alans who have paid a price for this man-made disaster with their lives.”

Posted in USA, EnvironmentComments Off on ‘Bombshell’ Report: Internal Memos Show Trump EPA Ignored Agency Scientists’ Calls to Ban Asbestos

Africa Must Raise Taxes to Better Fight Climate Change

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Mozambique is on its knees. Hit by what is considered the worst cyclone in the southern hemisphere, it saw its fourth city, Beira, practically wiped off the map. (Photo by Andrew Renneisen/Getty Images)

Africa is now the most vulnerable region to climate change, although it has only marginally contributed to it

Mozambique is on its knees. Hit by what is considered the worst cyclone in the southern hemisphere, it saw its fourth city, Beira, practically wiped off the map. (Photo by Andrew Renneisen/Getty Images)

Mozambique is on its knees. Hit by what is considered the worst cyclone in the southern hemisphere, it saw its fourth city, Beira, practically wiped off the map. (Photo: by Andrew Renneisen/Getty Images)

Let us begin by welcoming international solidarity. Whether it was the United Nations, its field agencies or major NGOs, the mobilization was not long in coming to the aid of Zimbabwe, Malawi, and, especially Mozambique, devastated by Cyclone Idai last March. But as another tropical cyclone, Kenneth, has landed on the East African coast with even greater intensity, we cannot help but detect accents of guilt in this solidarity.

Africa is the continent least responsible for global warming: barely 3.8% of greenhouse gas emissions are produced there.

Mozambique is on its knees. Hit by what is considered the worst cyclone in the southern hemisphere, it saw its fourth city, Beira, practically wiped off the map. And since tropical storms know no borders, Idai has also killed in Zimbabwe and Malawi. More than a thousand people died and two million were affected, including 1.8 million in Mozambique alone. The damage caused by floods and wind gusts is expected to cost the region more than US $2 billion, according to the World Bank.

For researchers, there is no doubt that the alternation of cyclonic episodes and droughts that has hit the region in recent years is directly linked to the impressive temperature variations resulting from climate change. The irony is that Mozambique and its neighboring countries produce only a tiny fraction of the world’s carbon dioxide emissions. Moreover, Africa is the continent least responsible for global warming: barely 3.8% of greenhouse gas emissions are produced there, compared to 23% in China, 19% in the United States, and 13% in the European Union.

Beira is not an isolated case. Prolonged droughts, repeated floods, declining agricultural yields, increasingly limited access to water, global warming is already taking its toll in Africa. These natural disasters increase the risk of food insecurity and health crises. The cholera cases that have emerged in Mozambique since Idai and Kenneth passed through clearly show it.

In rural areas, survival is at stake, due to the disappearance of entire crops. Urban populations are also on the front line. High birth rates and rural exodus mean that 86 of the world’s 100 fastest growing cities are in Africa. And at least 79 of them – including 15 capitals – are facing extreme risks due to climate change, according to the risk consultancy Verisk Maplecroft.

If nothing changes, the region could account for 90% of people living on less than US $1.9 a day by 2050, the World Bank warns.

In addition, natural disasters exacerbate poverty and inequality, and fuel conflict. Extreme poverty continues to increase in sub-SaharanAfrica, unlike in all other regions of the world. If nothing changes, the region could account for 90% of people living on less than US $1.9 a day by 2050, the World Bank warns. Public infrastructure is unable to meet the growing demand, and disaster response mechanisms are inadequate. Kinshasa’s 13.2 million inhabitants, for example, are already regularly affected by floods.

In order to be better prepared, African States urgently need more resources. It is true that tax collection has improved on the continent, rising from 13.1% in 2000 to 18.2% in 2016, according to the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD). But this remains well below the averages in Latin America (22.7%) or in OECD countries (34.3%). Above all, even when they are honest, administrations do not have the necessary resources to thwart the increasingly sophisticated and aggressive strategies that multinationals employ to avoid taxes. Africa loses between US $30 and $60 billion every year, according to very conservative estimates by the United Nations Economic Commission for Africa (UNECA) and the African Union. This is much more than the amount of international aid.

All over the world, people are shocked by tax scandals exposed by government investigations and whistleblowers. In the United States, for example, a recent report revealed that 60 of the country’s top 500 most profitable companies, including Amazon, Netflix and General Motors, paid no taxes in 2018, despite a cumulative profit of US $79 billion. The impact on public finances is even more worrying in Africa, where corporate taxes represent 15.3% of government revenues, compared to just 9% in rich countries.

After years of silence, OECD has recently admitted the need to question the system that allows companies to declare their profits wherever they wish, in order to benefit from very low or even zero tax rates in tax havens – and this in a totally legal way. This is a requirement that we, the Independent Commission for the Reform of International Corporate Taxation (ICRICT), have been pursuing for years. Rich countries are now under pressure from the International Monetary Fund (IMF) and the UN, which, in recent months, have called for a major overhaul of international taxation.

This is a first step in the right direction, but there is an urgent need for developing countries to participate actively in the drafting of new tax standards. Africa is now the most vulnerable region to climate change, although it has only marginally contributed to it. It is time for the continent to make its voice heard to recover resources that will enable it to fight against its effects and better prepare its populations.

Posted in Africa, EnvironmentComments Off on Africa Must Raise Taxes to Better Fight Climate Change

Iran Urges Diplomacy as Trump White House Ramps Up ‘Wildly Reckless’ Threats of War

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“Iran is acting on its warnings that it cannot uphold the agreement unilaterally. As such, Trump has initiated a chain reaction that will make America and the world less safe.”

Iranian President Hassan Rouhani speaks to the media at a joint press conference in Tehran. (Photo: Ebrahim Noroozi/AP)

In the face of belligerent threats of war from the Trump administration, Iran on Wednesday took what some observers described as rational steps to reduce compliance with the nuclear accord to pressure European nations to live up to their end of the deal.

“Bolton has gone into overdrive in recent weeks to spur Iranian retaliation to justify his reckless aggression.”
—Jamal Abdi, National Iranian American Council

“The path we have chosen today is not the path of war, it is the path of diplomacy,” Iranian President Hassan Rouhani said in a speech Wednesday, which marks the one-year anniversary of U.S. President Donald Trump’s violation of the nuclear agreement.

“It is not us who has left the negotiation table,” Rouhani added.

Rouhani’s announcement came just days after U.S. national security adviser John Bolton used the routine deployment of an American aircraft carrier and bomber task force to threaten Iran with “unrelenting force”—a move critics denounced as a dangerous step in the direction of all-out war.

The Iranian president said European signatories of the nuclear accord have 60 days to negotiate new terms that would mitigate the impact of crippling sanctions imposed by the U.S. If the 60-day deadline is not met, Rouhani said, Iran will end limits on uranium enrichment.

Matt Duss, foreign policy adviser for Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.), said that while American war hawks often characterize Iran as “a crazy irrational regime that can’t be negotiated with,” Iran “is responding pretty rationally to Trump’s wildly reckless and irrational Iran policy.”

Matt Duss

@mattduss

Worth noting that Iran, who hawks keep insisting is a crazy irrational regime that can’t be negotiated with, is responding pretty rationally to Trump’s wildly reckless and irrational Iran policy.

Vali Nasr

@vali_nasr

#iran has announced #JPCOA lite, less compliance for less economic benefits. But Not giving Trump what he wants, leaving the nuclear deal.

Jamal Abdi, president of the National Iranian American Council (NIAC), expressed concern about the Iranian government’s decision to begin pulling back from the nuclear accord—but noted the move did not “occur in a vacuum.”

“Donald Trump, spurred on by John Bolton and [Secretary of State] Mike Pompeo, has been trying for months to shatter the nuclear deal,” Abdi said in a statement. “Now, he will own the consequences of Iran resuming aspects of its nuclear program.”

Abdi highlighted the startling similarities between Trump’s escalation of tensions with Iran and the George W. Bush administration’s rhetoric and actions in the run-up to the Iraq invasion.

“Members of the Trump administration appear to be repeating the George W. Bush administration’s playbook for war with Iraq—tying Iran to al-Qaeda, baselessly stating that Iran is pursuing nuclear weapons, and politicizing intelligence assessments on Iran,” said Abdi. “Bolton has gone into overdrive in recent weeks to spur Iranian retaliation to justify his reckless aggression.”

Progressive advocacy group MoveOn also noted that the Trump administration’s attempts to escalate tensions with Iran are “alarmingly familiar”:

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MoveOn

@MoveOn

Trump is pushing us toward the brink of war with Iran — and it all sounds alarmingly familiar.

Since Trump withdrew the U.S. from the Iran nuclear accord last year, the Trump administration has repeatedly threatened Iran with military action and intensified punishing economic sanctions in an effort to “foment unrest” inside the country.

NIAC founder Trita Parsi said in a series of tweets Wednesday that Iran’s decision to take concrete steps in response to the Trump administration’s hostile and dangerous behavior is “not surprising.”

“It is surprising that it’s taken Iran so long to take this step,” Parsi said. “Trump had created a bizarre situation in which Iran was more sanctioned for abiding by a nuclear agreement than it was when the U.S. accused it of violating one.”

Parsi noted that Iran is clearly attempting to uphold the nuclear agreement to which it has abided since its implementation in 2015:

Trita Parsi

@tparsi

But Iran’s strategy is clearly not designed to facilitate an exit from the nuclear deal, but to compel Europe to defend the deal by living up to its obligations. 7/

“The Iran deal closed off Iran’s paths to a nuclear weapon,” said Parsi. “Now, a year after Trump pulled out, Iran is acting on its warnings that it cannot uphold the agreement unilaterally. As such, Trump has initiated a chain reaction that will make America and the world less safe

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Despite Entry Ban, Activist Omar Barghouti Speaks to DC Audience

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Peter Beinart (l) and Omar Barghouti (on the screen)  discuss the Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions (BDS) movement. (Staff photo S. Tayeb).

The day before Omar Barghouti, co-founder of the Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions (BDS) movement, was set to begin a speaking tour in the U.S., he was notified by authorities at Ben Gurion Airport that he would not be allowed to board his flight to the United States. Told it was an immigration matter, the order came from the U.S. consulate in Tel Aviv via U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services. His denial of entry came despite Barghouti holding a U.S. visa valid through January 2021.

On April 11, Barghouti was scheduled to speak at an event co-hosted by the Arab American Institute (AAI) and New York University (NYU) at NYU’s Washington, DC campus. AAI President James Zogby called Barghouti’s entry denial not just a violation of his rights, but also a “clear violation of our rights as American citizens.” He went on to say that “our regressive, discriminatory immigration laws are an impediment to free speech” and that AAI would be exploring legal options to allow Barghouti into the country.

Barghouti appeared at the event via Skype with NYU professor Peter Beinart, who stated that he was not in support of the BDS movement and challenged Barghouti on his pro-BDS stance.

When pressed by Beinart about his personal views on violence, Barghouti reiterated his, and the BDS movement’s, commitment to nonviolence. While highlighting Palestinians’ right to resist under the United Nations Universal Declaration of Human Rights, Barghouti stated that the movement does not take a stance on legitimizing violence of any kind. Instead, the movement seeks ways to end all violence. “To end all violence we must end the root cause of violence, that is occupation, settler-colonialism, and apartheid,” Barghouti said.

Beinart asked whether or not the BDS movement has failed in its goals of isolating Israel since the country presently enjoys close relations with the leaders of the U.S., Brazil, India, the Arab Gulf States, Eastern Europe, and several African countries. Noting that the governments Beinart mentioned all have far-right nationalist or authoritarian leaders, Barghouti responded by saying that “no Israeli should be comfortable with the fact that Israel has [now] become the poster boy for the far-right under Trump’s leadership.”

Citing a Likud Knesset member, Barghouti went on to say that the paradigm in Israel has shifted to where it is now acceptable for world leaders to be anti-Semitic, as long as they support Israeli policies and actions. Barghouti said that while Israel is winning the far-right, it is losing its moral stature around the world—including with Jewish millennials, who cannot reconcile their liberal values with what Israel is doing today vis-à-vis Palestinians.

Looking internally at the BDS movement, Barghouti was asked why the movement does not take a stance on a political settlement (one-state vs. two-state solution) to the conflict. Stating that taking such a position is beyond their mandate as a human rights organization, he said the movement focuses on highlighting Israel’s oppression in the hopes that international awareness and action will help bring about Palestinian self-determination and a just and peaceful resolution to the conflict.

During the question-and-answer session, the Washington Report asked Barghouti for the BDS movement’s response to Arab Gulf normalization with Israel, as well as anti-BDS legislation in the U.S. Barghouti responded by saying that while relations between Israel and Arab Gulf regimes are making headway, these closer relations do not resonate with the people of these countries. Citing statistics from 2018, he stated that the question of Palestine is still the leading issue for the majority of citizens in the Gulf States, and thus until Israel ends its oppression of Palestinians there can be no complete normalization of relations with Israel by these states.

Furthermore, he said he was horrified by the number of lies and fabrications found in BDS legislation in the U.S. “How can the United States, with its proud heritage of respecting boycotts as a matter of freedom of speech protected by the U.S. Constitution, accept this McCarthyism?” he questioned. He added that, “when states pass anti-BDS legislation, they’re not betraying Palestinian rights only, they’re betraying the U.S. Constitution, they’re betraying your civil rights, and no one is safe.” If they get away with [doing] this, who knows who’s next?” he said.

After the event, Barghouti released a statement regarding his entry denial:

“This U.S. entry ban against me, which is ideologically and politically motivated, is part of Israel’s escalating repression against Palestinian, Israeli and international human rights defenders in the BDS movement for freedom, justice and equality. Israel is not merely continuing its decades-old system of military occupation, apartheid and ethnic cleansing; it is increasingly outsourcing its outrageous, McCarthyite repression to the U.S. and to xenophobic, far-right cohorts across the world.”

During his trip to the U.S., Barghouti was also scheduled to attend his daughter’s wedding.

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Human Rights in Palestine Worsening as U.S. Solidarity Movement Strengthens

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(L-r) Dr. Diane Shammas, Said Arikat, Jonathan Kuttab and Phyllis Bennis. (PHOTO D. HANLEY)

Waging Peace

By Dale Sprusansky

Phyllis Bennis of the Institute for Policy Studies began her remarks at the March 2 American-Arab Anti-Discrimination Committee (ADC)’s annual convention in Washington, DC by noting the distressing disconnection between the increasingly successful Palestinian human rights movement and the worsening reality facing actual Palestinians on the ground.

“The movement for Palestinian rights is stronger than ever before,” she said. “That’s the good news.” The bad news: “We are not yet at a point where we can say it’s having a real impact on people’s lives [in Palestine]. There’s no illusion here, it is not.”

This reality should not leave pro-Palestine activists feeling dejected, Bennis insisted. The Palestinian human rights movement is gaining momentum at a faster rate than ever before, and she believes it will eventually see its efforts bear tangible, meaningful fruit.

The growing success of the solidarity movement can be attributed to the decision to focus on human rights rather than political solutions, Bennis said. While everyone may not agree on the ideal political resolution to the conflict, everyone can agree that Palestinians (and all human beings) deserve having their basic human rights upheld regardless of where they live, she noted.

“The struggle for Palestinian rights is being transformed into a human rights struggle, which means that the way we talk about it is different, the communities that take it up are different and the potential for success is way different,” she said. “As along as we are talking about rights and not states, the discourse is a whole different thing.”

The gains in momentum have been noticeable. “Palestinian rights is now part of the general agenda of progressives in the United States,” she said, even if the elite of the Democratic Party insist on toeing the pro-Israel line. The recent attempts to slander freshman Rep. Ilhan Omar (D-MN) as an anti-Semite are likely a preview of what is to come when progressives push the establishment on Palestinian rights, Bennis predicted. “I think it’s going to get ugly,” she said when asked how she thinks the pro-Israel movement will respond to 2020 candidates who challenge the sanctity of Israel.

Bennis encouraged those in the pro-Palestine movement to forcefully defend hate, while also diligently rebuffing false accusations of anti-Semitism. “We have to fight against the real anti-Semitism and fight to defend those who are being falsely accused of anti-Semitism because both are going to undermine our work,” she said.

Johnathan Kuttab, co-founder of the Palestinian human rights organization Al-Haq, outlined the crumbling human rights situation facing Palestinians. He noted that thanks to a wide body of independent human rights research and reporting, the cat is out of the bag: Israel is an undisputed human rights violator. Even the Israeli government, he said, is increasingly disinclined to challenge this notion.

“Israel is no longer expending a lot of time and energy into trying to convince itself and the rest of the world that it’s really a modern democratic open society,” he said. “They are saying upfront ‘we are a Jewish society, and to the extent we are democratic, that only applies to the Jews of Israel,’” Kuttab stated, referring to Israel’s recently passed nation-state law.

He continued: “The entire state is declaring itself to be based on an ethnic/religious identity, and those who don’t fit within that identity are openly, deliberately discriminated against and kept out of power. This is the framework that we are talking about today, where racism, discrimination, and organized apartheid are an essential part of the situation in Israel and the occupied territories.”

This exclusion stretches to Israel’s allegedly democratic parliament, Kuttab said, where Palestinian-Israeli parties are ostracized. “Both groups of parties in Israel, the right and the so-called left, are very clear that they are not going to even consider that Arab parties in the Knesset are legitimate parties in any kind of coalition,” he pointed out. “Not only that, they are even reluctant to accept them supporting the government from the outside, because if you are accused of being in power in part by relying on Arab parties, then you are not really legitimate, you are not really properly Zionist and you are not really properly Israeli.”

Offering some advice to Israelis, Kuttab said an acknowledgment of the Nakba and the fact that the State of Israel was built on top of Palestinian land would go a long way toward healing wounds and fostering reconciliation. During his travels to Canada, he said he is always moved when local speakers acknowledge the country was built on appropriated indigenous land.

“We’re not asking to throw anybody out into the sea, we just want a simple human recognition that this state of Israel was in fact created, built, stolen, captured, conquered from us,” he said. “Once you start with that recognition, we can live together.”

He concluded: “Obviously there is a reality. There are 5 or 6 million Israeli Jewish colonialists who came in, they are there. They live there, and this has become their country,” he acknowledged. “But if you start by saying ‘no this is ours, God gave it to us, we’ve always been around, you guys don’t exist, your very name is illegal,’ there can be no peace. The reality is you need to start with a recognition of the injustice that was done.”

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Posted in Palestine Affairs, ZIO-NAZI, Human RightsComments Off on Human Rights in Palestine Worsening as U.S. Solidarity Movement Strengthens

An Open Letter to Airbnb from a Superhost

Amnesty International staged a demonstration outside the UK headquarters of TripAdvisor on January 30, 2019. Amnesty released a report on that day outlining how Airbnb and other travel companies enable “war crimes” in the occupied West Bank. (TOLGA AKMEN/AFP/Getty Images)

Human Rights

Editor’s note: In November 2018, Airbnb announced that it would no longer allow rental properties in illegal West Bank settlements to be listed on its website. On April 9, after facing months of pressure from pro-Israel groups, the company reversed its decision.

Dear Airbnb,

I am writing to ask that you reconsider your decision to allow settlers in the West Bank to use the Airbnb platform to host guests in the settlements—an extremely segregated environment. By now I know that you have heard from Amnesty International and the Center for Constitutional Rights, so I won’t repeat their arguments.

As a “Superhost,” [a host recognized by Airbnb for the extraordinary experiences they provide to guests] I take pride in my ability to accommodate the needs and wants of people from all walks of life. In turn, I have had the honor of hosting extraordinary people from across the globe. My guests have come from China, Peru, Puerto Rico, New York, Denver, Hawaii, Baltimore and so many more places. If you check my account you will note that they often return. The sign in my front yard reads in English, Spanish and Arabic: “No Matter Where You Are From, We’re Glad You’re Our Neighbor.” These are not meaningless words. Hence, you can imagine my distress when I read that Airbnb will allow Jewish settlers in the West Bank—settlements on stolen lands that are notoriously segregated—to be part of this organization that declares itself a community of “belonging.” I’m sure you are aware that while that land belonged to Palestinian families not very long ago, they are now denied access. “Belonging” is meant for everyone—except Palestinians.

Know that I have traveled to the Palestinian territories three times since 2003 and have witnessed how segregation and apartheid conditions have worsened over time. I have traveled on roads that Palestinian Arabs are denied access to—the color of the license plates, distinguishing Jews from Palestinian Arabs (Yellow & Green), need no explanation. I have traveled in buses on a number of occasions only to witness Palestinians being removed and questioned by soldiers simply because of their religion or ethnicity. In one instance an elderly woman was removed and not allowed back on the bus because she had a tear in her passbook. She was forced to stand in the hot sun while her belongings remained on the bus as it pulled away. Settlers and soldiers treat the Palestinian people with great disdain and contempt that often ends in brutality against the marginalized and oppressed population.

In 2015, I was in a village adjacent to Duma, south of Nablus, at nearly the exact time when an 18-month-old baby and his parents were burned to death by Israeli settlers who spent little time in prison, if at all, for this heinous crime. I can only imagine that this is not the environment you want your guests to experience.

I urge you to reconsider your decision to allow the settlements to host on the Airbnb platform.

Sincerely,

Kate Daher
Pittsburgh, PA.

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Iran on brink of ‘full-scale confrontation with the enemy’, military commander warns US

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Comments come amid escalating tensions between two foes

Iran is on the “cusp of a full-scale confrontation with the enemy”, an Iranian military commander has claimed, as sabre-rattling between Washington and Tehran intensified.

As US politicians from both major parties urged Donald Trump to descalate tensions between the countries, a commander of Iran’s highly-trained Revolutionary Guards warned that Tehran was prepared for any conflict that may arise.

“We are on the cusp of a full-scale confrontation with the enemy,” said Maj Gen Hossein Salami, who was named head of the force last month.

The Fars news agency quoted him as saying: “This moment in history, because the enemy has stepped into the field of confrontation with us with all the possible capacity, is the most decisive moment of the Islamic revolution.”

The comments came after several days of mounting tension between the two countries, with the US sending additional troops and equipment to the region. It has done so amid claims US and coalition troops in Iraq and Syria that are fighting the remnants of Isis, are at increased risk from Iran, or Iranian-backed militias.

Iran has denied the claim and said the US is seeking to drag it into an unnecessary war.

On Tuesday, a British general who is second in command of strategy and information for the coalition operation named Inherent Resolve, Maj Gen Chris Ghika, told reporters at the Pentagon, there was no evidence of an increased threat. “No, there has been no increased threat from Iranian-backed forces in Iraq and Syria,” he said.

The US military central command later issued a statement saying the general’s comments were not accurate.

“Recent comments from [Gen Ghika ] run counter to the identified credible threats available to intelligence from US and allies regarding Iranian backed forces in the region,” it said.

On Wednesday it emerged the US had ordered the departure of non-emergency American employees from its diplomatic missions in Iraq on Wednesday in another apparent show of concern about possible threats.Helicopters were said to be seen took off throughout the day from the vast embassy compound near the Tigris River, carrying staff out.

In Washington, both Republicans and Democrats urged caution as the US dealt with Iran, which Mr Trump reimposed sanctions on last year after pulling America out of the multi-party Iran nuclear deal.

Congressional leaders will get more information about the situation on Thursday during a confidential briefing with Trump officials, Politico reported.

“It’s close to inconceivable that the president, the administration would consider a war with Iran,” said Utah senator Mitt Romney, a Republican critic of the president. “The president made it clear when he ran for president that one of the worst foreign policy mistakes in American history was the decision to go to war with Iraq.”

Meanwhile, House speaker Nancy Pelosi reportedly said: “Let me say that we have to avoid any war with Iran.”

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LONE GUNMAN, NO VISIBLE MEANS OF SUPPORT

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Image result for GEORGE WALLACE CARTOON

THE STRANGE AND STILL UNSOLVED CASE OF GEORGE WALLACE
THE BROKE, DIARY-WRITING LONER WITH MONEY TO SPARE

On this day in 1972, presidential candidate George Wallace was shot by an ultra-mobile “lone nut” who apparently had limitless amounts of cash.

No one talks about the attempted assassination of George Wallace.

First of all, he survived. Second, he was not a terribly sympathetic figure.

He was running against Richard Nixon and was at least the third candidate to run against him who happened to be shot.

The others of course were John Kennedy who beat him and Robert Kennedy who was on the road to doing the same. Martin Luther King a political opponent of Nixon’s also ended up being shot by a strange “loner” around the same time.

Some interesting things about the Wallace shooting:

1. Based on nothing, Nixon immediately blamed “leftists” for the shooting, though it was quickly determined that Bremer was a “loner” – sort of.

2. Like so many “lone nuts”, right before the shooting he took the time to start and keep a regular diary which he conveniently left as evidence in his car (shades of 9/11 hijackers!)

3. Like dead-broke James Earl Ray who shot King and John Hinckley who shot John Lennon, Arthur Bremer roamed the country at will, eating in restaurants, staying in hotels, buying firearms – and like Hinckley stayed at the Waldorf Astoria Hotel, which then even more than now was a fabulously expensive place.

What are the odds?

Something not part of the public story…

According to E. Howard Hunt’s autobiography right after the shooting Nixon ordered him (through Charles Colson) to break into Bremer’s apartment to see if there were any documents linking the GOP to the attempted hit. Hunt reluctantly agreed, but the operation was called off.

Then James Rowley, head of the Secret Service, ordered one of his Milwaukee agents to break into Bremer’s apartment. This was before the FBI was able to get in. They were waiting for a search warrant (Remember those quaint old days?)

The Secret Service took documents from the apartment. When the FBI finally got in, they found literature from the Black Panther Party (shades of Micah Xavier Johnson!) and the American Civil Liberties Union.

Then – are you ready for this? – they left the apartment unsealed as a crime scene and in walked random reporters who walked off with documents. (shades of Dallas and San Bernadino.)

Guess what they found?

Documents that purportedly showed that Bremer was a member of the Young Democrats of Milwaukee!

Oh, really?

The diary, a project which the non-literary shooter apparently started to provide evidence against himself, said he was hoping to shoot either Nixon or Wallace. Uh huh. Right.

In a detailed analysis of the 137 page document, Gore Vidal suggested that the diary was in fact written by E. Howard Hunt.

Martha Mitchell, the famous “loose cannon” wife of one of Nixon’s henchmen John N. Mitchell visited Wallace and told him that her husband had confessed that Charles Colson had a meeting with Arthur Bremer four days before the assassination attempt.

On another note, the work of John N. Mitchell lives on:

“Mitchell devised a type of revenue bond called a “moral obligation bond” while serving as bond counsel to New York’s Governor Nelson Rockefeller in the 1960s. In an effort to get around the voter approval process for increasing state and municipal borrower limits, Mitchell attached language to the offerings that was able to communicate the state’s intent to meet the bond payments while not placing it under a legal obligation to do so. Mitchell did not dispute when asked in an interview if the intent of such language was to create a “form of political elitism that bypasses the voter’s right to a referendum or an initiative.”

Many billions, possibly trillions, of dollars worth of fraudulent municipal bonds have been issued using this scheme. When the chickens come home to roost on this one some day – and they will – you’ll know who got it started.

One thing for sure: We don’t live in a dull country.

 

Posted in USAComments Off on LONE GUNMAN, NO VISIBLE MEANS OF SUPPORT

Ideologically motivated crime by Nazi Jewish settlers in Hebron

NOVANEWS
Ideologically motivated crime by settlers in Hebron gets tailwind from Israeli authorities: Yesh Din figures, November 2018.
Ideologically motivated crime by settlers in Hebron gets tailwind from Israeli authorities: Yesh Din figures, November 2018 - Yesh Din

רחוב השוהדא, חברון (צילום: אקטיבסטילס)

From 2005 until November 2018, Yesh Din assisted in filing 68 complaints following incidents of ideologically motivated offences in the city of Hebron in which Israeli civilians, mostly settlers from Hebron, harmed Palestinians or their property. It is important to note that Yesh Din does not document all incidents that take place in the city, but only those that are brought to its attention, some in which Yesh Din is asked to provide legal aid to the victims of criminal offenses.

Of the 68 complaints, 42 related to violent offenses including assault, battery, threats, stone-throwing and even shooting. The remaining complaints concerned damage to property, trespass, and invasion of farmland, among others.

Compared to overall figures for the West Bank, the incidence of violence in Hebron is particularly high: While violence accounts for 35% of the incidents documented by Yesh Din in the West Bank as a whole, 62% of the incidents documented in Hebron were violent offenses. The reason for this presumably lies in the unique circumstances in Hebron, where Jewish settlements were established in the heart of the city and settlers and Palestinians live in close proximity.

An analysis of Yesh Din data and information regarding incidents of violence and damage to property in Hebron, as well as the law enforcement system’s treatment of these offenses, reveals that the military fails to act to protect Hebron’s Palestinian residents from settler attacks and refrains from punishing soldiers who stand idly by during violent incidents despite having the obligation and authority to stop the assailants. Moreover, the entire law enforcement system – the police, prosecutorial bodies and the courts – fails to bring offenders to justice.

The responsibility for this state of affairs lies at the feet of Israeli governments, which have, throughout the years, shown leniency toward settler violence and neglected to intervene to eradicate it. The outcome is a sweeping failure by Israel to protect Palestinians from Israeli civilians who harm them and their property.

Posted in Palestine Affairs, ZIO-NAZI, Human RightsComments Off on Ideologically motivated crime by Nazi Jewish settlers in Hebron


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