MADA Condemns the Shooting of Journalist Al-Samodi
The Palestinian Center for Development and Media Freedoms (MADA) condemns a shooting involving Palestine TV correspondent Nizar Al-Samodi in Jenin last night 9th August, by an Israeli-registered car.
Al-Samodi told MADA that he was returning to his home in Jenin from Ramallah on Wednesday night when he arrived the crossroads known at ‘Tormos Aya and Singel’ at about 10:30pm. He said someone then fired a shot at him which hit the car mirror, only missing him by centimetres.
He added: “The bullet was fired by a white Israeli car with yellow number plates. I believe the goal was to kill me, but the shooter underestimated the speed of the car, so the bullet just missed me and broke the mirror of the car instead. I filed a complaint today with the Israeli military liaison office.”
Amnesty International has released satellite pictures of “craters” in Syria, citing: “an increased use of heavy weaponry, including near residential areas.”
The BBC reports, quoting Amnesty: “Images from Anadan revealed more than 600 probable artillery impact craters from heavy fighting between Syrian armed forces and armed opposition groups.” (My emphasis.)
Further: “Turning Syria’s most populous city into a battlefield will have devastating consequences for civilians. The atrocities in Syria are mounting already,” warned Christoph Koettl, emergency response manager for Amnesty International USA, without acknowledging that the killings of civilians are committed by the US-NATO Free Syrian Army (FSA) rather than the government.
Digital Globe via Amnesty International “More than 600 probable artillery impact craters,
represented here with yellow dots, were identified in Anadan, in the vicinity of Aleppo, according to Amnesty International.”
“The Syrian military and the opposition fighters must both adhere to international humanitarian law, which strictly forbids the use of tactics and weapons that fail to distinguish between military and civilian targets”, he added.
Amnesty’s record on impartiality suffered a fatal blow when they stated in 1991 that Iraqi soldiers had torn babies from their incubators in Kuwait and left them to die on the floor of the hospital’s neo-natal unit. Arguably this sealed the 1991 onslaught on Iraq. The story that the Kuwaiti government rewarded Amnesty with $500,000 for endorsing this pack of lies has not gone away – and as far as I am aware, to date, has not been denied.
Amnesty’s record suffered a further blow when it organised a demonstration last year, outside the London Syrian Embassy, with CAABU (Council for Arab British Understanding) calling for the overthrow of the sovereign Syrian government. A plan which was outlined by the US Embassy in Damascus in December 2005. This action arguably falls under the definition of incitement to terrorism, set out by the UN Security Council on 4th May 2012. (SC/10636.)
The Syrian government is doing what any nation would do to defend its country when attacked by terrorists, many from outside and many also with British accents, according to recently escaped, kidnapped British and Dutch journalists.
However, back to your 600 craters. The insurgents also seemingly have rocket propelled grenades and have also boasted of capturing tanks with heavy weaponry. However many craters or not, they will certainly be responsible for many and will not have clean hands.
Further, I do not seem to remember Amnesty blasting the British and Americans soldiers for killing, raping, murdering whole families of Iraqis and Afghans, also illegally invaded, who simply wanted their countries back, or were totally innocent victims.
No doubt the all is now directed by your new US Head, former top aide to Hilary Clinton, who seems to hate most of the world’s non Western population, especially those of the Middle East, or of predominantly Muslim heritage.
Amnesty has moved a long way from its fine founding aims.
MIAMI, FL — The president of a veterans’ anti-war organization said the American public has been “brainwashed” to hate Iran and pressure to prevent the U.S. from attacking it will have to come from outside the US.
“I don’t think we can get mass protests going against [war on] Iran here,” said Leah Bolger, president of Veterans For Peace (VFP) in a speech Thursday to its 27th annual national convention here. “The American public is brainwashed. The American public is saying ‘We hate Iran,’” Bolger said.
“We have to reach out to the global community and get them to put pressure on the US to prevent war against Iran,” she told an audience of cheering veterans at the Marriott Biscayne Bay hotel. “We see how the U.S. sanctions are an act of war against Iran, a country which has done no harm to anyone.”
American are brainwashed, Bolger said, because the mass media has framed Syria and Iran “as terrorist nations out to get us” and making wars against them as “necessary.”
Bolger went on to say, “The Iranian people have done nothing illegal. They have every right to develop nuclear power. Iran is a signatory to the Nuclear Proliferation Treaty (NPT).”
By contrast, she continued, “Israel has never let the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) inspect their facilities. The best way to discourage nuclear weapons is for the US and Israel to dismantle their own. We are bellicose and activist nations.”
The veterans cheered when Bolger said VFP is the only veterans organization that has called for the abolition of war. The group has also called for dismantling the North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO).
Veterans For Peace was founded in 1985 and has approximately 5,000 members in 150 chapters located in every US state and several countries. It is a 501(c)3 non-profit educational organization recognized as a Non-Governmental Organization (NGO) by the United Nations, and is the only national veterans’ organization calling for the abolition of war.
Sherwood Ross may be reached at email@example.com.
There is a looming double whammy threatening the economy beginning in 2013. These two threats are: 1) the expiration of the Bush tax cuts; and 2) implementation of $1.2 trillion in automatic spending cuts over a ten-year period, an outcome of the 2011 debt ceiling debacle.
These threats raise the specter of driving the U.S. back into recession or depression. Many people might question the phrase ‘back into recession’ since they feel we are still in the Great Recession.
Unsurprisingly, in most of these negotiations over the deficit and long-term debt, corporate-funded pundits and politicians focused on the need for more budget cuts. However, some strong special interests are now raising concerns about the agreed upon cuts. In particular, the Congressional-military-industrial (CMI) complex strongly opposes the additional $600 billion in cuts to the military budget that are mandated over a ten-year period. Given that the U.S. spends as much on its military as most of the rest of the world combined, these cuts certainly seem justifiable. The CMI complex now wants more cuts to programs benefiting the public instead of cutting unnecessary weapons programs or closing many of the hundreds of unnecessary military bases spread worldwide.
Instead of the politicians’ focus on budget cutting, numerous polls of Americans support raising revenue by increasing taxes on the wealthy. Despite our clear wishes, increasing the federal revenue has received relatively little attention from the pundits and politicians. However, at least the White House is pushing for elimination of the Bush tax cuts for those making over $250,000. The elimination of this cut would be a start along a path that could eliminate the deficit and shrink the debt.
Most Americans don’t realize how changes in the tax code affected our nation’s fiscal health. For example, the corporate share of federal taxes went from an average of roughly 28% in the 1950s to an average of about 10% over the 2001 to 2010 period. In addition, the top marginal individual tax rate dropped from 91% in 1954 to 35% today. Cuts in the top capital gains taxes for long-term gains from 28% to 15% also primarily benefited those at the top of the income ladder.
These huge cuts pushed by the extremely wealthy have done immense damage to our nation’s financial outlook as well as greatly increasing inequality. For example, the top 1% now hold about 35% of the nation’s wealth compared to the bottom 50% holding about 1.1%.
Some steps that would go a long way towards restoring our nation’s fiscal health and reducing our shameful inequality are the following:
- implementing a small tax on the wealth of the top 1%;
- adding a small fee on financial speculation;
- creating a highly progressive income tax with many categories and a top marginal rate of at least 70% on incomes over $1,000,000;
- restoring the estate tax with estates under $3.5 million exempted;
- removing loopholes in the corporate tax code that allow many large global corporations either to get refunds, to pay no taxes, or to pay effective tax rates far lower than the official rate of 35%;
- eliminating corporate welfare at the federal and state levels that basically benefit large global corporations at the expense of small businesses and the public;
- removing the cap on wages taxed for Social Security and also subjecting unearned income to taxes for Social Security;
- enacting Medicare for all;
- stopping illegal aggression against other nations;
- withdrawing from Afghanistan in a timely manner;
- ending the harmful, costly and failed war on drugs; and
- cutting military spending, particularly for weapons programs, unnecessary military bases and the costly privatization of many tasks.
Some may view these steps as class warfare against the wealthy. However, if you examine these proposals, you can see that the wealthy have already been engaged in class warfare against the rest of us for well over thirty years. According to the media though, it is not class warfare if the wealthy do it. Warren Buffet addressed this idea a few years ago: “There’s class warfare, all right, but it’s my class, the rich class, that’s making war, and we’re winning.”
The Congressional Progressive Caucus has also proposed a less daring plan, “The Peoples’ Budget”, as another way of eliminating the budget deficit. For related information, read the just published The Betrayal of the American Dream by Donald Barlett and James Steele.
Ron Forthofer is a retired professor of biostatistics from the University of Texas School of Public Health in Houston and was a Green Party candidate for Congress and also for governor of Colorado.
Morgan Stanley got off easy, according to consumer advocates, when a federal judge reluctantly approved a $4.8 million settlement involving price fixing in the electricity market.
The agreement resolved accusations that Morgan Stanley had gotten into a complex swap arrangement with KeySpan Corp. through which it gained a stake in the profits of its competitor Astoria Generating Company Acquisitions. The scheme allowed KeySpan to bump up the cost of electricity in New York, taking approximately $300 million out of consumers’ pockets.
Other than paying just under $5 million, which represented less than a quarter of its earnings from the scheme, Morgan Stanley did not have to admit any wrongdoing.
Judge William H. Pauley III said he had “misgivings” about the size of the penalty, saying, “$4.8 million is a relatively mild sanction.”
“There is a risk that a large financial services firm like Morgan Stanley could view such a modest penalty as merely the cost of doing business,” Pauley added.
Peter Vallone, a councilman who represents the Queens district that hosts KeySpan’s facilities, was irate over news of the settlement. “Here, they’re allowed to keep what they stole,” Vallone told Courthouse News. “That is ridiculous…. This is pocket change for them.”
The AARP and New York’s Public Service Commission objected to the settlement. They said Morgan Stanley should have been forced to admit what they did was wrong and pay $21.6 million, the amount it made off the deal with KeySpan Corp.
- On Wall Street Crime Pays – A 350% IRR To Be Exact (zerohedge.com)
- Morgan Stanley Derivative Accord Wins Approval in First Case – Bloomberg (bloomberg.com)
Villagers in the South Hebron Hills face eviction as Israel pushes plans
to use their land for army training (MaanImages/Eleonora Vio, File)
BETHLEHEM – Israel’s High Court on Thursday rejected a petition against the removal of Palestinian villagers from the southern West Bank by the Israeli army, but stressed further legal challenges were still open.
The ruling allows villagers in the south Hebron hills to remain in their villages until November 1, when an order blocking their displacement will expire.
The court said it was not taking a position on the wider dispute, in which the Israeli government has ordered demolition of eight of the 12 villages in an area the army designates as a military training zone.
Tamar Feldman, a legal director for the Association for Civil Rights in Israel who filed the petition, insisted: “It is the full legal right of all of the residents of these villagers to remain on the land that they have owned for generations and use it for their livelihood.”
“There is no justification, legal or moral, for evacuating and displacing residents from their homes and their lands – whether we are talking about 12 villages or 8,” she said.
Residents of the south Hebron hills have fought a long battle to remain in their homes.
In 1999, over 700 residents were evicted due to “illegal residence in a firing zone” and Israeli forces confiscated property and demolished buildings and wells.
Israel’s High Court issued an interim injunction, and Israeli forces allowed named petitioners to return but not their relatives.
In July, Israeli Defense Minister Ehud Barak told the court the army plans to demolish Khirbet al-Majaz, Khirbet al-Tabban, Sfai, Khirbet al-Fakheit, Halaweh, Mirkez, Jinba, and Kharoubeh.
The Israeli state says the residents are squatters from the nearby town of Yatta, while lawyers for the villagers say their rural communities pre-date the establishment of the state of Israel.
- Israel ‘closes road’ linking Hebron villages slated for demolition (occupiedpalestine.wordpress.com)
- Israeli kills 2 Palestinians near Hebron (alethonews.wordpress.com)
- Palestinian voice from Susiya, a Palestinian village that existed before the establishment of the State of Israel (alethonews.wordpress.com)
- Israel orders demolition of eight Palestinian villages for military training sites (alethonews.wordpress.com)
- Susiya: Another Casualty of Israeli Occupation? (alethonews.wordpress.com)
The Israeli daily Ha’aretz reported that the military signed a document disallowing the three year old lawsuit filed by Mohammed Shamasna, but the military will pay 10,000 NIS to cover three years of legal fees.
Shamasna was shot in November of 2007 and had to undergo several operations and a lengthy rehabilitation process.
According to Israeli military regulations, if an Israeli officer finds that someone is injured during a necessary military operation, the wounded person cannot make a claim for damages. However Shamasna’s lawyer Laviv Habib stated that he believed that the order was signed simply to block the case from going forward since it took more than three years to declare that it was a military operation.
Coverage of this incident in Ha’aretz favored the view that the Israeli military was being generous in providing money for legal fees. Questions about the need for military accountability for the shooting of civilians during a military operation were not raised. Nor was the thought that someone who was shot would have incurred medical fees in addition some loss of livelihood given it would be difficult to maintain work as a shepherd following this type of incident.
- Israeli Mayor to Demolish UN Humanitarian Agency Emergency Shelter (alethonews.wordpress.com)
- New Regulation Bars Palestinians and Immigrants from Using Israeli Courts (alethonews.wordpress.com)
- Israeli troops steal 1000 goats from southern Lebanon (alethonews.wordpress.com)
Ahmad Dalloul in front of his destroyed factory in Tel-el-hawa
Mamoun Ahmad Dalloul (36) lives in Tel-el-hawa with his wife and 9 children. Until recently, he owned a dairy-products factory that produced milk, cheese and yoghurt. Since December 2008, Mamoun has re-built his factory 4 times after it was repeatedly targeted and destroyed by Israel’s forces. On 04 June 2012, at around 1:00, his factory was targeted and destroyed by Israel’s forces for the 5th time.
On the evening of the most recent attack, Mamoun received a call from his brother, who lives adjacent to the factory, informing him that the factory had been destroyed by a missile from an F16: “I rushed to my factory and, when I arrived, there were firefighters and police. The neighbors were panicking and standing in the streets. I was told that a missile had hit the factory and then penetrated 6 or 7 meters into the ground. There was something like an earthquake for 5 minutes, and then the missile exploded and pulled everything into the crater. I do not know what kind of missile it was.”
After 5 attacks on his factory, Mamoun is devastated: “The first time my factory was destroyed was in December 2008 during Operation Cast Lead. The factory was very big and on the ground floor of our residential apartment. I received a call from Israel’s forces, who told me that the building would be targeted in the next 15 minutes. My family and I fled immediately. 3 missiles were fired from an F16 and the building was completely destroyed. In just a few minutes, we lost everything. We were suddenly homeless and I had lost my only source of a livelihood.”
Mamoun and his family were forced to shuffle from one household to another, looking for a place to stay: “We would stay at my parents’ house for a few days then move to my brother-in-law’s house and spend a few more at my brother’s house. My son kept asking why we had no home. Finally, as my wife is a refugee, UNRWA built us a single residential unit. I then rebuilt my factory in Sabra, which is in central Gaza City. It was very small and modest because there was barely any construction material in Gaza, as well as money constraints. 6 months later, it was destroyed by Israel’s forces. I then partnered with someone else and tried to rebuild in a different location, but it was destroyed while we were still constructing.”
A crater made by the missile fired from an F16 on 04 June 2012
At this point, Mamoun had given up and decided to not rebuild his factory: “The first 2 times, I rebuilt because this is my only source of a livelihood. There are hardly any employment opportunities in Gaza. My factory provided work for 120 individuals, including my 3 brothers and my son. I saw how they were all suffering without work and thought that the factory would at least provide them with the income to support themselves and their families. I had enough after the 3rd attack, but a representative of the European Commission came to visit from Jerusalem and said they would mediate on my behalf. They promised that the factory would not be targeted again. Each time I bought new machines, they came and took pictures and reassured me all was well. I was encouraged by this and started to develop the factory slowly. Then, just like that, it was targeted and destroyed again. They did not keep their promise.”
Each attack has resulted in severe economic hardship for Mamoun and his family: “I have had to borrow money and my savings are almost depleted. I sold 2 pieces of my land to rebuild my factory. I even sold the house that UNRWA gave us to set up the factory and have a source of income. I can no longer sustain the expenses for my family. For a while, people would not even let me rent an apartment in their buildings, because they thought it would be targeted.”
Mamoun feels that his story is one of many that illustrate the suffering of Gaza: “There are people who are displaced and dying. I know what it feels like to be homeless. My children have had to grow up seeing dead people, war and destruction. They no longer even react to airstrikes, because this is what they are used to. My factory was a civilian establishment and I did not plan any resistance activities there. Why would I want to put my family in such danger? I am tired of this destruction. I have no future now. Why can’t we be left to live in peace and stability like other people in the world?”
The direct targeting of a civilian object constitutes a war crime, as codified in Article 8(2)(b)(ii) of the Rome Statute of the International Criminal Court. Similarly, under the Fourth Geneva Convention Article 53, the destruction of private property is prohibited unless rendered absolutely necessary by military operations. The destruction of such factories infringes upon human rights principles, including the right to work and right to attain an adequate standard of living contained in Article 11 of the International Covenant on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights.
- Owner of dairy factory hit by Israel urges world action (alethonews.wordpress.com)
- Israel Destroys EU Development Projects Worth €29 Million (altahrir.wordpress.com)
A new virus dubbed Gauss has attacked computers in the Middle East spying on financial transactions, emails and picking passwords to all kind of pages. The virus resembles Stuxnet and Flame malware which was used to target Iran, Kaspersky Lab says.
Gauss has infected hundreds of personal computers across the Middle East – most of them in Lebanon, but also in Israel and Palestinian territories. Kaspersky Lab has classified the virus, named after one of its major components, as “a cyber-espionage toolkit”.
The malicious malware spies on transactions in banking systems and steals passwords and credentials to social networks, emails and instant messaging accounts. It can also collect system configurations.
Though Gauss seems to be specifically designed for several Lebanese online banking systems, it can also go after Citibank and PayPal users.
It is not immediately clear who may be behind the new Trojan virus, but Kaspersky Lab says the “nation-state sponsored” toolkit has features characteristic of Flame, DuQu and Stuxnet malware, which targeted machines in Iran.
“After looking at Stuxnet, DuQu and Flame, we can say with a high degree of certainty that Gauss comes from the same ‘factory’ or ‘factories,‘” Kaspersky Lab said in their report on Thursday. “All these attack toolkits represent the high end of nation-state-sponsored cyber-espionage and cyber war operations.”
The researchers cannot say whether Gauss was meant to simply spy on account transactions, or to steal money from targets. But given the high probability of a nation-state actor behind it, the virus may be a counterintelligence tool, which could be used to trace funding of various groups or individuals.
Gauss has attacked over 2,500 personal computers in the Middle East. Only one attack has so far been reported in Iran (image from http://www.securelist.com)
The virus is yet to be fully exposed, as the Moscow-based internet security company is still trying to crack its payload, a section that sends and receives instructions from an outside source once it has infiltrated a system. The company is asking for assistance from any cryptographers since the payload is highly encrypted and its purposes remain unclear.
The virus was first spotted in June this year while Kaspersky Lab was looking for variants of Flame. Gauss appears to have been most active from May to July 2012, until its control and command infrastructure stopped functioning. Now the virus is in a dormant state.
Still, the malware, apparently created back in 2011, managed to spread much farther than Flame, which attacked around 700 PCs across the Middle East this spring.
Flame and Stuxnet are widely speculated to have been ordered by the US and Israel to hit Iran’s nuclear program. Western officials gave a tentative confirmation the CIA, the National Security Agency and the Israeli military were all involved in developing the Flame spying toolkit.
As for the Stuxnet attack, which in 2010 damaged uranium enrichment centrifuges in Iran, Washington has so far declined to comment on if it was behind the sabotage.
Now Gauss, which shares parts of its code with Flame, appears to add to the US and Israel’s presumed cyber arsenals.