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Member since: 2003 before July 6th
Number of posts: 29,876

Journal Archives

Resource: Area C Palestinians Under Threat Of Displacement

A new report published by B’Tselem to mark 46 years since Israel occupied the West Bank reveals how the Civil Administration has violated its obligation to administer the area for the benefit of the Palestinian population. Contrary to its legal obligations, the Civil Administration, the body responsible for implementing Israeli government policy in Area C (60 percent of the West Bank under full Israeli control), implements exactly the opposite policy.

The Civil Administration consistently prefers Israeli and settlements’ interests while displacing Palestinians, exploiting the area’s resources to benefit Israelis, and bringing about a permanent situation in which Israeli settlements thrive and Palestinian presence is negligible.



Welcome to America, the Land That Vacation Forgot

While it’s no news to anyone who runs into European travelers entering the second month of their time off work, the United States is pretty stingy about giving people vacation. Legally, as the Center for Economic and Policy Research reminded us last week in a reported entitled “No-Vacation Nation Revisted,” there is no national law requiring employers to offer holidays or vacations as there is in every other industrialized nation. We do have unpaid family leave—it’s even paid in a few places—but there too the U.S. is out of step with the rest of the rich world. Individual employers, of course, can offer what they choose.

Not surprisingly, the report notes that lower-wage workers, part-timers, and those at small businesses are the least likely to have bosses who offer any vacation or paid holidays. All told, according to information gathered by the liberal-leaning think tank, 23 percent of working Americans get no paid vacation or paid holidays, and the average from those who do get some time off is “less than the minimum legal standard set in the rest of the world’s rich economies excluding Japan (which guarantees only 10 paid vacation days and requires no paid holidays).” Yay, American drones beat Japan’s fabled salarymen!

There are moves to bring the U.S. up to speed. Congressman Alan Grayson, a Democrat from Florida, just happened to introduce the Paid Vacation Act as the CEPR report was making headlines. His bill—I say we dub it ObamaCares—initially offers a pretty modest one week off with pay a year for workers at concerns employing at least a hundred people. Three years after the putative law takes effect, that would rise to two weeks, and for those laboring at places with at least 50 workers the one-week-a-year provision would kick in.
Grayson’s bill also calls for a simultaneous study on how this mandated time off affects workplace productivity, public health, and psychological well-being.

Given the howls that accompany every effort to raise the minimum wage, including the Obama Administration’s current proposal to push it to $9 an hour, and the melodrama accompanying the Affordable Care Act, I predict rough sailing for any attempt to require the private sector to offer new benefits. (Hell, we can’t even hold the line on the existing ones.)



The Racist Little Superland In All Of Us

When people think of Hanna Arendt, they usually think of "the banality of evil", her famous phrase after seeing Adolf Eichmann tried in Jerusalem. But Arendt had another interesting, albeit less famous quote regarding the relationship between evil and the banal in her posthumous book "Life of the Mind": "The sad truth", she wrote, "is that most evil is done by people who never make up their minds to be good or evil".

Last week, seventh grade students from the Arab school Ajial in Jaffa learned that lesson first-hand when their teacher tried to order them tickets for a day of fun in the Superland amusement park in Rishon Lezion, only to be told he'd have to pick another day. Why? The park apparently has a segregation policy, renting the park to Jews and Arab schools on different days.

The enraged teacher, Khaled Shakra, posted the story on his Facebook page. It caused quite the national stir. Superland's managers hastened to explain that the segregation was the result of multiple requests from Jewish and Arabs schools alike, following violent confrontations between groups of Arabs and Jewish students. Justice Minister Tzipi Livni vowed to open a "racism hotline" for citizens to report incidents of discrimination. Education Minister Shay Piron was outraged and called Shakra to offer his support and MKs from all parties voiced their disgust.

Yet again Israel found itself defending itself against accusations of apartheid.



Kansas Farmer Sues Monsanto After Genetically Engineered Wheat Found In Field

WICHITA, Kan. -- A Kansas farmer has sued seed giant Monsanto over last week's discovery of genetically engineered experimental wheat in an 80-acre field in Oregon, claiming the company's gross negligence hurt U.S. growers by driving down wheat prices and causing some international markets to suspend certain imports.

The federal civil lawsuit, filed Monday by Ernest Barnes, who farms 1,000 a
cres near Elkhart in southwest Kansas, seeks unspecified damages to be determined at trial.

U.S. Agriculture Department officials said last Wednesday that the modified wheat was the same strain as one designed by Monsanto to be herbicide-resistance that was tested in Oregon and several other states through 2005 but never approved. The USDA has said the Oregon wheat is safe to eat and there is no evidence that modified wheat entered the marketplace.

It's believed to be the first lawsuit stemming from the discovery. Similar lawsuits are in the works, Barnes' attorney said, and the cases will likely be consolidated for the purposes of discovery, a process where evidence is investigated and shared among parties.

No genetically engineered wheat has been approved for U.S. farming. Many countries will not accept imports of genetically modified foods, and the United States exports about half of its wheat crop. Since the announcement, Japan -- one of the largest export markets for U.S. wheat growers -- suspended some imports. South Korea said it would increase its inspections of U.S. wheat imports.

Read more: http://www.ctvnews.ca/world/kansas-farmer-sues-monsanto-after-genetically-engineered-wheat-found-in-field-1.1311471#ixzz2VIhvGTDi

Florida Governor Vetoes Bill To Let Some Immigrants In US Illegally Apply For Driver's License

TALLAHASSEE, Fla. - Florida Gov. Rick Scott is vetoing a bill that would have allowed some young immigrants who are living in the U.S. illegally to apply for a temporary driver's license in the state.

The Republican-controlled Legislature passed a bill that said that young immigrants allowed to remain in the country under an Obama administration "deferred action" policy could use federal documents to receive a temporary driver's license for at least one year.

In a veto message, Scott questioned the legality of the federal policy announced last June.

Read more:


Obama Will Do Anything for Israel... But He Won't Do That

There is a silver lining in President Barack Obama's refusal to do much of anything to end the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. It is this: if Obama had any intentions of either bombing Iran's nuclear installations or allowing Israel to do it, he would be laying the groundwork by pressuring Israel hard to end the occupation.

That is what President George W. Bush did before he led the invasion of Iraq in 2003. Knowing that attacking Iraq would be viewed as an attack on the Arab world at large, he sought inoculation by suddenly announcing his support for a Palestinian state along with a pledge to end the occupation of Palestinian lands. Calling for an end to the occupation would also help win support from the allies, most notably British prime minister Tony Blair.

In March 2002 Bush announced that he intended to devote his energy to achieving the goal of "two states, Israel and Palestine, living side by side, in peace and security."

This was the first time Bush had endorsed a Palestinian state, and the plan he announced to achieve it (dubbed the "Roadmap To Peace" was a dramatic break from Bush's previous cold indifference to Palestinian grievances. Bush went so far as to say that "Israeli settlement activity in occupied territories must stop. And the occupation must end through withdrawal to secure and recognize boundaries consistent with United Nations Resolutions 242 and 338."



Palestinians To Be Cast As Fall Guys -- Again

Under heavy pressure from the US, Israeli prime minister Benjamin Netanyahu has paid grudging lip service over the past four years to the goal of Palestinian statehood. But his real agenda was always transparent: not statehood, but what he termed "economic peace."

Ordinary Palestinians, in Netanyahu's view, can be pacified with crumbs from the master's table: fewer checkpoints, extra jobs and trading opportunities, and a gradual, if limited, improvement in living standards. All of this buys time for Israel to expand the settlements, cementing its hold over the West Bank and East Jerusalem.

After 20 years of pursuing Palestinian statehood implied in the Oslo Accords, the US indicated last week it was switching horses. It appears to be adopting Netanyahu's model of "economic peace."

At the World Economic Forum in Jordan, US secretary of state John Kerry, flanked by Israeli president Shimon Peres and Palestinian Authority chairman Mahmoud Abbas, revealed an economic program for getting peace talks on track.



Russia's Vladimir Putin Defends Arms Sales To Syria

MOSCOW -- President Vladimir Putin on Tuesday defended Russia's arms sales to Syria, but said Moscow has not yet supplied the advanced S-300 air defense system it has promised.

“The contract was signed a few years ago but it hasn’t been fulfilled yet,” Putin said Tuesday at a news conference in the Russian city of Yekaterinburg. “We don’t want to upset the balance in the region.”

Putin’s comments followed news reports last week that quoted Syrian President Bashar Assad as saying that his government had received its first batch of the missiles.

The reports were based on a supposedly leaked version of an interview with Lebanon's Al Manar TV. But according to the official Syrian transcript, Assad declined to answer directly when asked whether Russia had already provided the weapons, or whether they were on the way.



Israeli Officials: We’d Prefer Al-Qaeda-Run Syria to an Assad Victory

Israeli officials are voicing their concern over Bashar al-Assad’s recent advances in his country’s civil war, Israeli Army Radio reported.

According to Israel Hayom, senior Israeli officials were quoted as saying that “al-Qaeda control over Syria would be preferable to a victory by Assad over the rebels.”

Officials believe that an Assad victory would strengthen Iran, as a weakened Syrian regime would become more reliant on the Islamic Republic. The Iran-Hezbollah-Syria axis would thus become an even greater threat to Israel, the officials said.


Revolt in Turkey: Erdogan's Grip on Power Is Rapidly Weakening

For a decade, Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan has had a tight grip on power. But it suddenly looks to be weakening. Thousands have taken to the streets across the country and the threats to Erdogan's rule are many. His reaction has revealed him to be hopelessly disconnected.

These days, though, Istanbul is producing images that carry a distinctly different meaning -- images of violent protests against the vagaries of Erdogan's rule. And it is beginning to look as though the prime minister, the most powerful leader Turkey has seen since the days of modern Turkey's founder Mustafa Kemal Atatürk, might be losing control.
As recently as mid-May, Erdogan boasted during an appearance at the Brookings Institute in Washington D.C. of the $29 billion airport his government was planning to build in Istanbul. "Turkey no longer talks about the world," he said. "The world talks about Turkey."

Just two weeks later, he appears to have been right -- just not quite in the way he had anticipated. The world is looking at Turkey and speaking of the violence with which Turkish police are assaulting demonstrators at dozens of marches across the country. Increasingly, Erdogan is looking like an autocratic ruler whose people are no longer willing to tolerate him.

Democracy Lost

But one thing got lost in the shuffle: Democracy. Success made Erdogan even more power-hungry, thin-skinned and susceptible to criticism. Indeed, he began governing in the same autocratic style for which he had bitterly criticized his predecessors. And now, he is faced with significant dangers to his power from several quarters.

The biggest danger facing the Turkish premier is his own high-handedness. Though he said on Monday that he understood the message being sent by the protesters, there is little evidence that is true. Indeed, his response thus far has shown the degree to which he has become distanced from realities in his country. With hundreds of thousands of people taking to the streets, Erdogan has opted for confrontation rather than de-escalation. On Monday morning, he threatened that he would be unable to keep the 50 percent of Turks who voted for him from taking to the streets themselves. Critics see the comment as nothing less than a threat of civil war.


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