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Former head of Iceland’s Landsbanki jailed for role in 2008 crash

RT | November 20, 2014

Sigurjon Arnason, the ex- CEO of Landsbanki, one of the three Icelandic banks that crashed and ruined the economy in 2008, has been sentenced to 12 month in prison for manipulating the bank’s share price and deceiving investors in the bank’s dying days.

A court of Reykjavik found Arnason guilty, but nine months of his term will be suspended and served on probation.

Glitnir, Kaupthing and Landsbanki – the three largest Icelandic banks – spectacularly crashed in the autumn of 2008 after gaining assets equivalent to 10 times the size of Iceland’s economy as they funded operations by local businessmen abroad. The former chief executives of the other major banks have already received jail sentences.

Ivar Gudjonsson, Landsbanki’s former director of proprietary trading, and Julius Heidarsson, a former broker, were sentenced to 9 months of which 6 months will be suspended. They were accused of manipulating the bank’s share price by lending funds to investors provided they buy shares.

All the accused pleaded not guilty.

“This sentence is a big surprise to me as I did nothing wrong,” Sigurjon Arnason told Reuters after the hearing. His attorney said he would appeal the verdict, according to Icelandic media.

Unlike other western countries Iceland is actively targeting the former top management of its banks as it investigates alleged financial crimes committed in the lead up to the crisis of 2008.

READ MORE: Icelandic ‘banksters’ get jail time over Kaupthing fraud

November 20, 2014 Posted by | Corruption, Deception | , , , , | 1 Comment

Support for justice in Palestine soaring on US campuses

ALRAY | November 20, 2014

New York – A student-led movement taking shape on U.S. college campuses have seen a growing number of young activists organizing around solidarity with Palestine.

The Students for Justice in Palestine organization, one of the major solidarity coalitions, now has more than 110 active chapters in the U.S. and the number is growing.

The movement enjoys the backing from those with a wide array of political thought and a support base that significantly grew after Israel’s “Operation Cast Lead” and “Operation Protective Edge” assaults on Gaza in 2008-09 and this summer respectively.

According to Aman Muqeet of the organization’s National Steering Committee, Israel’s summer offensive affected all of those who are in solidarity with the Palestinian people. “It has strengthened our resolve and commitment to the work we do.”

Operation Protective Edge began July 7 and lasted for 51 days; it killed more than 2,000 Palestinians, mostly civilians, according to Palestinian health officials. More than 10,000 others were reported injured.

“Also, it has empowered us because we have seen an unprecedented amount of support from the international community,” Muqeet said. “Musicians, actors, and public figures voicing support for Gaza, corporations distancing themselves from Israeli crimes; consumers joining the Palestinian-led call for a boycott of Israeli goods and corporations that support Israel; millions of people around the world taking to the streets to demand justice.”

He says public opinion in the U.S. and the West shifted significantly after Israel’s summer assault.

“The Protective Edge massacre has brought the realities of a brutal colonial empire to the fore … On campuses, students are more informed than they were in the past and are keeping up with the developments.”

An Oct. 24 report by the New York-based Jewish organization Anti-Defamation League reported a dramatic increase in the number of pro-Palestine events scheduled on U.S. campuses since the massacre.

There were 75 events scheduled since the beginning of the 2014-2015 academic year, which started in late August or early September at most American universities, the report said. That number marks a 114 percent increase compared with the same period last year.

“Israel has done an excellent job of demonstrating to the international community the lack of regard it has for civilians, justice, and human rights,” according to Muqeet.

Brooklyn College has a Students for Justice in Palestine chapter. Organizers there say their aim is to raise awareness about the human rights violations being committed by Israel against the Palestinians and to build solidarity with the Palestinian struggle for justice, freedom, self-determination and the right of return.

The group’s president, Sarah A. Aly, says the chapter has received more requests during the current academic year from students who want to join the chapter when compared to last year.

“Our membership is very diverse and we work with non-Muslim groups on a regular basis on campus, such as the Latino and black clubs as well as DreamTeam and LGBT club,” she said.

The group finds connections between Israeli actions in Gaza and the shooting of unarmed black teenager Michael Brown by a white police officer in Ferguson, Missouri.

“We do draw the parallels because the struggles that communities of colors face in the U.S. are connected to the Palestinian struggle in many ways. We fully support the people in Ferguson and all those fighting for justice and liberation. One of our members was in Ferguson to show support for them and the support for Palestine she received while she was there was very evident.”

Brown’s death set off mass protests, which have since continued at various levels around the country.

Muqeet says the Students for Justice in Palestine stands in solidarity with not just Mike Brown and Trayvon Martin, but all victims of racial violence.

Their fourth annual national conference’s opening keynote featured author Rev. Osagyefo Uhuru Sekou speaking on “From Ferguson to Palestine: Resisting State Violence and Racism.”

Israel has traditionally been a close ally of the U.S., and has been assisted since its founding with substantial amounts of American financial and military aid.

What young activists believe to be a “lack of objectivity” from the U.S. government toward Israel’s massacres is also adding to the rise in the number of students who support for the Palestinian cause.

“When students see this, they ask questions and they want to learn more, and effect positive change which will bring an end to the human rights violations and occupation of Palestine, and end U.S. military support for Israel’s occupation and human rights abuses,” Muqeet said.

“So, I anticipate a steady growth of students that support justice in Palestine.”

November 20, 2014 Posted by | Ethnic Cleansing, Racism, Zionism, Solidarity and Activism | , , , , | 1 Comment

If “The Economy is Recovering” Why Is There a Surge in Homeless Children?

A Black Agenda Radio commentary by Bruce A. Dixon | November 19, 2014

For the last three elections now, 2010, 2012 and 2015, corporate media and corporate politicians have ceaselessly assured us that “the economy” whatever that is, is “back on track”, wherever that is.

Despite what corporate media and politicians tell us, the positive indicators of soaring stock market valuations, rising real estate prices and the rigged unemployment figures that don’t count the jailed, the recently released from jails and prisons, and those who’ve given up on finding work or those working part time who desperately want full time hours real life for most real people hasn’t got any better since 2008 or 2009.

Last week an extraordinary and shameful study emerged from the National Center on Family Homelessness confirmed it by demonstrating that almost 2.5 million children in the US were homeless at some point during 2013. That’s one child in every thirty, in what we’re accustomed to thinking of as the richest nation on earth. In the most recent months for which statistics exist, the rate of homelessness among children is spiking, increased 8% nationally from 2012 to 2013, and by 10% or more in 13 states and the District of Columbia. In 2006 one in 50 children were homeless. In 2010 it was one in 45. Now, in the age of Obama, the 2013 number is 1 in 30.

The causes of homelessness among children are not your comforting stereotypes of drug use and mental illness. These are “comforting” because they encourage us to blame the drug-addicted, and pity the mentally ill, and our comfort keeps us from questioning the capitalist system which declares that we must have poverty in the midst of plenty, or wondering why we ourselves are no more than a month or two from homelessness.

America’s shameful surge in homeless children is caused by the fact that wages are NOT rising, low income housing is NOT being built, and the stock of available housing is being demolished or cannibalized by gentrifying speculators. Speculators can’t make money off stable neighborhoods, so the poorest have to leave wherever they are to make room for something else.

In California, the nation’s most populous state 34% of households are paying more than half their annual income for rent, and while the state’s minimum wage is $8 an hour, a 2 bedroom apartment at a third of annual income would require tripling the minimum wage to $25.78 an hour. The issue then, is poverty.

Millions of children are not suffering because their parents have suddenly become addicted, or neglectful or lazy or stupid. Their parents, many of whom are working as hard as they can, are simply not able to afford a roof over their heads. This is just capitalism. It may be a scandal, but it’s no surprise.

This happens to be just the way that “the economy” works when it’s “back on track.” It’s time to tear up those tracks.

Bruce A. Dixon lives and works in Marietta GA and can be reached at bruce.dixon(at)blackagendareport.com.

November 20, 2014 Posted by | Economics | | Leave a comment

Shock and horror at killings, but not when victims are Palestinians

By Yvonne Ridley | MEMO | November 19, 2014

I wonder how many people have heard of Mohammed Siyam? While the Western media went into overdrive over the tragedy of the synagogue killings in Jerusalem, little Mohammed lay gasping, fighting for his life on an operating table in Turkey.

As two crazed men, armed with knives, unleashed a brutal, indiscriminate attack on the unsuspecting Jewish congregation, the 14-year-old was just one of many Palestinian children who had already had his limbs sheared off in a brutal, indiscriminate attack.

That the 14-year-old had survived this long was a miracle in itself. He lost both of his legs during Israel’s war against the civilians of Gaza in the summer; the Israeli airstrike also blew 12 members of his family to pieces with bombs deliberately designed to kill and maim human beings. The courageous youngster, an innocent child who had already survived three wars in his short life, finally gave up his struggle and was pronounced dead on Tuesday during yet another operation; this one was on his lungs and respiratory tract.

There was no media present at his burial, no headlines as his body was lowered into the grave. In that he was no different to the 570 other Palestinian children from Gaza who were killed by Israel’s summer blitz; his passing went unnoticed.

The Western media, it seems, is not interested when the dead come from the Gaza Strip where 2,140 Palestinians paid the ultimate price this summer alone for having the misfortune to live in the world’s largest open air prison. While death and destruction destroyed the sanctity of one place of worship in Jerusalem there was little outrage vented in the West when even worse rained down in Gaza just months earlier. That the Israeli onslaught destroyed 73 mosques in 51 days, while 205 others were partially destroyed, barely registered in the Western media.

Other statistics brushed aside by the media routinely during Israel’s war included the 11,000 who were injured, many of them women and children. According to the UN, Israel’s bombs destroyed or damaged thousands of civilian buildings, including the only power plant and more than 220 schools, many run by the international body. The much fewer Israeli casualties, almost all of them soldiers, received far more media exposure.

Probably one of the worst offenders of the “Ostrich approach” to Palestinian casualties is the BBC, which has a global reputation for gold standard reporting, except when it comes to the Middle East. BBC News online headlines screamed, “Bloody attack at Jerusalem synagogue” with breaking news being updated in a live blog every few minutes followed by detailed analysis and the ubiquitous Israel spokesmen. Sky News also went into overdrive and before long most TV and online media were relaying images of bloodied prayer shawls and ambulances and the general chaos associated with such an atrocity.

Interviews at the scene followed and blurred video footage taken by a passer-by was also shown. As a journalist with more than 35 years in the business it was, I would say, a job well done. What makes me despair at the standard of journalism, though, is the lack of coverage of similar atrocities carried out by Israelis against Palestinians; they barely make it into the mainstream.

Look at the following observations compiled by the excellent NGO Friends of Al-Aqsa, of which I’m a member:

  • Palestinian bus driver Hassan Yousef Al-Ramouni, believed to have been lynched by Israeli settlers, was not mentioned at all by the BBC until the attack on the synagogue, when his death was mentioned only in reference to a Hamas statement about events at the synagogue. AFP and major Israeli outlets reported Hassan’s death.
  • On November 11th, the BBC reported the killing of 22-year-old Imad Jawabreh using quotation marks around “shot dead by the Israeli army” as if there was any conflicting report over who had killed the young man. By the fourth paragraph of the BBC report, there was mention of attacks against an Israeli soldier and civilians in an attempt to contextualise the killing. By contrast, the article on the synagogue attack contains no reference to killings of Palestinians by Israelis, which might have added some context to the attack. Unlike the story about the synagogue, there was no live blog and no use of evocative imagery; instead, a generic image of an Israeli jeep was the backdrop.
  • The BBC only reported once on the killing of Khayr Al-Din Hamdan, shot dead by Israeli police while his back was turned. The incident was caught on camera, but the BBC has not followed up on this clear example of police brutality against Palestinians.

Long ago as it was, I still recall as a trainee being told that every life is precious and there is no room for discrimination when covering an atrocity. It was drummed into us aspiring young journalists that not only must we be impartial but we must also be fair and just. It appears that those standards are no longer applicable in the BBC when it comes to Palestine.

If you needed proof, tell me in all honesty if you had heard Mohammed Siyam’s name before you read this article; or even that a little Palestinian boy who had lost both his legs and 12 members of his family in the summer war had now lost his life? If you had, it is almost certain that it was no thanks to the BBC and other mainstream media.

November 20, 2014 Posted by | Ethnic Cleansing, Racism, Zionism, Mainstream Media, Warmongering | , , , , | Leave a comment

Dutch government refuses to reveal ‘secret deal’ into MH17 crash probe

RT | November 20, 2014

The Dutch government has refused to reveal details of a secret pact between members of the Joint Investigation Team examining the downed Flight MH17. If the participants, including Ukraine, don’t want information to be released, it will be kept secret.

The respected Dutch publication Elsevier made a request to the Dutch Ministry of Security and Justice under the Freedom of Information Act to disclose the Joint Investigation Team (JIT) agreement, along with 16 other documents. The JIT consists of four countries – the Netherlands, Belgium, Australia and Ukraine – who are carrying out an investigation into the MH17 disaster, but not Malaysia. Malaysian Airlines, who operated the flight, has been criticized for flying through a war zone.

Part of the agreement between the four countries and the Dutch Public Prosecution Service, ensures that all these parties have the right to secrecy. This means that if any of the countries involved believe that some of the evidence may be damaging to them, they have the right to keep this secret.

“Of course [it is] an incredible situation: how can Ukraine, one of the two suspected parties, ever be offered such an agreement?” Dutch citizen Jan Fluitketel wrote in the newspaper Malaysia Today.

Despite the air crash taking place on July 17 in Eastern Ukraine, very little information has been released about any potential causes. However, rather than give the public a little insight into the investigation, the Dutch Ministry of Security and Justice is more worried about saving face among the members of the investigation.

“I believe that this interest [international relations] is of greater importance than making the information public, as it is a unique investigation into an extremely serious event,” the Ministry added, according to Elsevier.

Other reasons given for the request being denied included protecting investigation techniques and tactics as well as naming the names of officials who are taking part in the investigation. The Ministry said it would be a breach of privacy if they were revealed. “If the information was to be released then sensitive information would be passed between states and organizations, which would perhaps they would be less likely to share such information in the future,” said the Ministry of Security and Justice.

Dutch MP Pieter Omtzigt, who is a member of the Christian Democratic Party, has made several requests for the information to be released to the public. “We just do not know if the Netherlands has compromised justice,” he said in reaction to the ministry’s decision. The MP was surprised that this agreement was even signed, never mind kept secret.

Malaysia is the only country to have directly negotiated with the anti-Kiev militias in the East of Ukraine, while the country’s Ambassador to the Netherlands said he was unhappy that Malaysia had not been included within the JIT. Dutch Prime Minister Mark Rutte flew to Kuala Lumpur on November 5, but Malaysia says it still did not receive an invitation to join.

“We must first be included in the JIT, otherwise it would be hard for us to cooperate in the investigation. The parties inside the investigation must include us in the team, right now we are just a participant,” said the Malaysian Inspector-General of Police Khalid Abu Bakar in Kuala Lumpur on Wednesday, which was reported by the New Straits Times.

A preliminary report by the Dutch Safety Board, which was released September said the MH17 crash was a result of structural damage caused by a large number of high-energy objects that struck the Boeing from the outside.

Dutch investigators added that “there are no indications” that the tragedy was triggered “by a technical fault or by actions of the crew.”

November 20, 2014 Posted by | Deception, False Flag Terrorism, War Crimes | , , | 2 Comments

EU trying to force Serbia into Russia sanctions club, says senior MP

RT | November 20, 2014

The EU’s attempts to coerce Serbia into joining anti-Russian sanctions are nothing but blackmail, says the head of the State Duma Foreign Affairs Committee.

“Presently the European Union is trying to force Serbia, which is not an EU member, to join their sanctions program. They are practically blackmailing Serbia: either it joins the sanctions against Russia or [the bloc] won’t see it as a country with a chance of joining the EU,” MP Aleksey Pushkov (United Russia) told reporters at a Thursday press conference in Moscow.

“The problem for Serbia is that in any case it has no prospects for joining the EU anytime soon. Even if they join the anti-Russian sanctions now, they would simply succumb to blackmailers and no one would accept them in the EU in one year for doing this,” he added.

The comments came after the EU’s Enlargement Commissioner Johannes Hahn said that Serbia would have to join EU sanctions against Moscow if it wants to be part of the European Union.

“Serbia has taken a legislative commitment within the EU accession negotiations to bring its positions in line with those of the EU. Harmonization includes the tough issues as well, like the tough issue of sanctions against Russia. We are expecting of Serbia to hold on to these commitments,” RIA Novosti quoted Hahn as saying.

This was a radical change of position as just days earlier, after a meeting with Serbian Foreign Minister Ivica Dacic, Hahn assured the press that the EU was not asking Serbia to impose sanctions against Russia. Back then, the commissioner acknowledged that such decisions were a sovereign matter of the Serbian government and the sanctions and Serbian membership in the EU were in no way connected.

Serbian Ambassador to Moscow Slavenko Terzić told Interfax on Thursday that for the moment his country had no intention of joining the sanctions, but in future the question could be raised at the Serbia-EU talks. “It is possible that Serbia would gradually begin to coordinate its position on various international issues with the one of the EU, but today our country is not ready to join the anti-Russian sanctions for many reasons, including because of the fact that Serbia and Russia are strategic allies,” the diplomat noted.

November 20, 2014 Posted by | Economics | , , | Leave a comment

Israeli soldiers protect Jewish settlers attacking Palestinian village

Yesh Din | November 20, 2014

Israeli occupation forces did nothing to stop Jewish settlers from attacking Palestinian villagers, according to videos released by the Yesh Din rights group, showing soldiers pointing guns at Palestinians while Israelis are throwing stones from behind the soldiers.

The soldiers appear to be protecting the masked and armed Jewish settlers from Yitzhar during their attack on Palestinians in the village of Urif in the West Bank on Tuesday.

“IDF soldiers have the obligation, based on international law and High Court of Justice rulings, to protect Palestinian residents from violence, and IDF soldiers have the authority to detain suspects, including Israeli suspects, until the police arrive,” Yesh Din said in a statement.

“The disturbing video footage demands vigorous investigation and the immediate prosecution of the soldiers involved. An examination must also be carried out of whether the soldiers’ commanders bear liability for the conduct of their subordinates,” attorney Emily Schaeffer Omer-Man, legal advisor to Yesh Din’s said.

November 20, 2014 Posted by | Ethnic Cleansing, Racism, Zionism, Illegal Occupation, Video | , , , , , | Leave a comment