Warning: count(): Parameter must be an array or an object that implements Countable in /home/tbrnew5/public_html/wp-includes/post-template.php on line 284

Warning: count(): Parameter must be an array or an object that implements Countable in /home/tbrnew5/public_html/wp-includes/post-template.php on line 284

Warning: count(): Parameter must be an array or an object that implements Countable in /home/tbrnew5/public_html/wp-includes/post-template.php on line 284

Warning: count(): Parameter must be an array or an object that implements Countable in /home/tbrnew5/public_html/wp-includes/post-template.php on line 284

TBR News December 20, 2017

Dec 20 2017

The Voice of the White House

Washington, D.C., December 20, 2017:”Benjamin ‘Bibi’ Netanyahu  was born October 21 1949 in Tel Aviv, to Tzila Segal ( August 28 1912 –  January 31, 2000) and Prof. Benzion Netanyahu (1910–2012)

Between 1956 and 1958, and again from 1963 to 1967, his family lived in the United States in Cheltenham Township, Pennsylvania, a suburb of Philadelphia, where he attended and graduated from Cheltenham High School and was active in a debate club.

Bibi, then a cross-dresser, worked for a time for the Bonwit-Teller department store in Philadelphia.  The Bonwit-Teller store has been located at 17th and Chestnut streets in Philadelphia. Bibi, using the name Esther Nitai, modeled women’s undergarments for this firm in 1965.

He speaks fluent English, with a noticeable Philadelphia accent.

Netanyahu returned to the United States in late 1972 to study architecture at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology eventually completed an S.B. degree in architecture

At MIT, Netanyahu graduated near the top of his class, and was recruited as a management consultant for the Boston Consulting Group in Boston, Massachusetts, working at the company between 1976 and 1978.

In 1975 he earned an S.M.degree from the MIT Sloan School of Management in 1977. Concurrently, he studied political science at Harvard University.

At that time he officially changed his name to Benjamin Ben Nitai (Nitai, a reference to both Mount Nitai and to the eponymous Jewish sage Nittai of Arbela, was a pen name often used by his father for articles.

Bibi has been under protracted investigation by law enforcement agencies in Israel for bribery and corruption.

Interesting that Bibi should express such kind feelings for a Donald Trump whose German relative was a senior SS official involved in racial, anti-Semitic, activities.”

 

 

Table of Contents

  • Who Wants War With Iran – and Why?
  • Mohammed Bin Salman’s Ill-Advised Ventures Have Weakened Saudi Arabia
  • A Good Year for Israel and Its Friends
  • The Palestinian Holocaust
  • US will ‘take names’ during UN General Assembly vote on Jerusalem
  • Leaked report highlights Israel lobby’s failures
  • CEOs Aren’t Waiting for the Tax Bill to Pass — They’ve Already Started Pocketing the Windfall
  • Inequality:  When will we see the world’s first trillionaire?
  • Big Brother is watching? New Facebook facial recognition spots you even if you’re not tagged
  • Too late, Theresa: Brexit offer to EU citizens leaves many cold
  • Suffering for Fun and Profit

 

Who Wants War With Iran – and Why?

December 19, 2017

by Patrick J. Buchanan

AntiWar

In the run-up to Christmas, President Donald Trump has been the beneficiary of some surprisingly good news and glad tidings.

Sunday, Vladimir Putin called to thank him and the CIA for providing Russia critical information that helped abort an ISIS plot to massacre visitors to Kazan Cathedral in St. Petersburg.

Monday found polls showing Trump at his highest in months. Stocks soared 200 points at the opening bell in anticipation of pre-Christmas passage of the Republican tax bill. The Dow has added a record 5,000 points in Trump’s first year.

And the Russiagate investigation may have busted an axle. Though yet unproven, charges are being made that Robert Mueller’s sleuths gained access to Trump transition emails illicitly.

This could imperil prosecutions by Mueller’s team, already under a cloud for proven malice toward the president.

Recall: Daniel Ellsberg, who delivered the Pentagon Papers to The New York Times, walked free when it was learned that the White House “Plumbers” had burgled his psychiatrist’s office.

With things going Trump’s way, one must ask:

What was U.N. Ambassador Nikki Haley doing last week at what looked like a prewar briefing at Joint Base Anacostia-Bolling in D.C.?

Looming behind Haley was part of what was said to be an Iranian missile fired at King Khalid International Airport in Riyadh.

Though the rocket had Iranian markings, it was not launched from Iran, or by Iranians. Houthi rebels, for two years victims of a savage war waged by the Saudis – using U.S.-made planes, missiles, bombs and drones – say they fired it at the Riyadh airport in retaliation for what the Saudis have done to their people and country.

If so, it was a legitimate act of war.

Indeed, so great is the Yemeni civilian suffering from a lack of food and medicine, and from malnutrition and disease, Trump himself has told the Saudis to ease up on their air, sea, and land blockades.

As there is no evidence as to when the Houthis acquired the missile, or where, the question arises: What was Haley’s motive in indicting Iran? Was this part of a new propaganda campaign to drum up support for America’s next big Mideast war?

There are reasons to think so.

Haley went on: “It’s hard to find a conflict or a terrorist group in the Middle East that does not have Iran’s fingerprints all over it.”

But Iran is Shiite, while al-Qaida, which brought down the twin towers, aided by 15 Saudi nationals, is Sunni. So, too, are ISIS, Boko Haram in Nigeria, al-Shabab in Somalia and Islamic Jihad. Most Mideast terrorist groups are Sunni, not Shiite.

As for these Mideast “conflicts,” which did Iran start?

We started the wars in Afghanistan and Iraq. NATO started the war in Libya. The U.S. helped trigger the horrific Syrian civil war by arming “rebels.” Only when President Bashar Assad looked like he was about to fall did Russia and Iran intervene on his side.

As for the “Shiite crescent,” from Tehran to Bagdad to Damascus to Beirut, who created it?

Under Saddam Hussein, Iraq was Sunni dominated. It was the Americans who overthrew him and brought Shiite power to Baghdad.

In Syria, it was U.S.- and Sunni-backed “rebels,” allied at times with al-Qaida, who drew Iran and the Shiite militias in to save Assad.

And the Israelis called the Shiite Hezbollah movement into being by invading and occupying South Lebanon in 1982. As Yitzhak Rabin ruefully said, “We let the Shia genie out of the bottle.”

Are we now to fight a new Mideast war against a larger enemy than any of the others we have fought, to clean up the bloody mess we made of the region by our previous military interventions?

Before we march, with Haley as head cheerleader, Trump should consider the likely consequences for his country, the Middle East, and his presidency.

A war in the Persian Gulf would send oil prices soaring, and stock markets plummeting, even as it would split us off from our major allies in Europe and Asia. The Airbus-Boeing deal to sell Iran 300 commercial aircraft would be dead.

While the U.S. would prevail in an air, naval and missile war, where would the troops come from to march to Tehran to “democratize” that nation? Do we think a bloodied revanchist Iran would be easier to deal with than the one with which John Kerry negotiated a nuclear deal?

Would Hezbollah go after U.S. soft targets in Beirut? Would Iraqi Shiite militias go after Americans in the Green Zone? Would the Shiite majority in Bahrain and the oil-rich northeast of Saudi Arabia rise up and rebel?

And who would our great fighting Arab ally be?

Jared Kushner’s new friend: a 32-year-old Saudi prince who has become famous for putting down $500 million each for a chateau near Versailles, a yacht on the Riviera, and a painting by Leonardo da Vinci.

 

Mohammed Bin Salman’s Ill-Advised Ventures Have Weakened Saudi Arabia

December 15, 2017

by Patrick Cockburn

The Unz Review

Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman (MbS) of Saudi Arabia is the undoubted Middle East man of the year, but his great impact stems more from his failures than his successes. He is accused of being Machiavellian in clearing his way to the throne by the elimination of opponents inside and outside the royal family. But, when it comes to Saudi Arabia’s position in the world, his miscalculations remind one less of the cunning manoeuvres of Machiavelli and more of the pratfalls of Inspector Clouseau.

Again and again, the impulsive and mercurial young prince has embarked on ventures abroad that achieve the exact opposite of what he intended. When his father became king in early 2015, he gave support to a rebel offensive in Syria that achieved some success but provoked full-scale Russian military intervention, which in turn led to the victory of President Bashar al-Assad. At about the same time, MbS launched Saudi armed intervention, mostly through airstrikes, in the civil war in Yemen. The action was code-named Operation Decisive Storm, but two and a half years later the war is still going on, has killed 10,000 people and brought at least seven million Yemenis close to starvation.

The Crown Prince is focusing Saudi foreign policy on aggressive opposition to Iran and its regional allies, but the effect of his policies has been to increase Iranian influence. The feud with Qatar, in which Saudi Arabia and the UAE play the leading role, led to a blockade being imposed five months ago which is still going on. The offence of the Qataris was to have given support to al-Qaeda type movements – an accusation that was true enough but could be levelled equally at Saudi Arabia – and to having links with Iran. The net result of the anti-Qatari campaign has been to drive the small but fabulously wealthy state further into the Iranian embrace.

Saudi relations with other countries used to be cautious, conservative and aimed at preserving the status quo. But today its behaviour is zany, unpredictable and often counterproductive: witness the bizarre episode in November when the Lebanese Prime Minister Saad Hariri was summoned to Riyadh, not allowed to depart and forced to resign his position. The objective of this ill-considered action on the part of Saudi Arabia was apparently to weaken Hezbollah and Iran in Lebanon, but has in practice empowered both of them.

What all these Saudi actions have in common is that they are based on a naïve presumption that “a best-case scenario” will inevitably be achieved. There is no “Plan B” and not much of a “Plan A”: Saudi Arabia is simply plugging into conflicts and confrontations it has no idea how to bring to an end.

MbS and his advisers may imagine that it does not matter what Yemenis, Qataris or Lebanese think because President Donald Trump and Jared Kushner, his son-in-law and chief Middle East adviser, are firmly in their corner. “I have great confidence in King Salman and the Crown Prince of Saudi Arabia, they know exactly what they are doing,” tweeted Trump in early November after the round up and confinement of some 200 members of the Saudi elite. “Some of those they are harshly treating have been ‘milking’ their country for years!” Earlier he had tweeted support for the attempt to isolate Qatar as a supporter of “terrorism”.

But Saudi Arabia is learning that support from the White House these days brings fewer advantages than in the past. The attention span of Donald Trump is notoriously short, and his preoccupation is with domestic US politics: his approval does not necessarily mean the approval of other parts of the US government. The State Department and the Pentagon may disapprove of the latest Trump tweet and seek to ignore or circumvent it. Despite his positive tweet, the US did not back the Saudi confrontation with Qatar or the attempt to get Mr Hariri to resign as prime minister of Lebanon.

For its part, the White House is finding out the limitations of Saudi power. MbS was not able to get the Palestinian leader Mahmoud Abbas to agree to a US-sponsored peace plan that would have given Israel very much and the Palestinians very little. The idea of a Saudi-Israeli covert alliance against Iran may sound attractive to some Washington think tanks, but does not make much sense on the ground. The assumption that Trump’s recognition of Jerusalem as the capital of Israel, and the promise to move the US embassy there, would have no long-term effects on attitudes in the Middle East is beginning to look shaky.

It is Saudi Arabia – and not its rivals – that is becoming isolated. The political balance of power in the region changed to its disadvantage over the last two years. Some of this predates the elevation of MbS: by 2015 it was becoming clear that a combination of Sunni states led by Saudi Arabia, Qatar and Turkey was failing to carry out regime change in Damascus. This powerful grouping has fragmented, with Turkey and Qatar moving closer to the Russian-backed Iranian-led axis, which is the dominant power in the northern tier of the Middle East between Afghanistan and the Mediterranean.

If the US and Saudi Arabia wanted to do anything about this new alignment, they have left it too late. Other states in the Middle East are coming to recognise that there are winners and losers, and have no wish to be on the losing side. When President Recep Tayyip Erdogan called a meeting this week in Istanbul of the Organisation of Islamic Cooperation, to which 57 Muslim states belong, to reject and condemn the US decision on Jerusalem, Saudi Arabia only sent a junior representative to this normally moribund organisation. But other state leaders like Iranian President Hassan Rouhani, King Abdullah of Jordan and the emirs of Kuwait and Qatar, among many others, were present. They recognised East Jerusalem as the Palestinian capital and demanded the US reverse its decision.MbS is in the tradition of leaders all over the world who show Machiavellian skills in securing power within their own countries. But their success domestically gives them an exaggerated sense of their own capacity in dealing with foreign affairs, and this can have calamitous consequences. Saddam Hussein was very acute in seizing power in Iraq but ruined his country by starting two wars he could not win

Mistakes made by powerful leaders are often explained by their own egomania and ignorance, supplemented by flattering but misleading advice from their senior lieutenants. The first steps in foreign intervention are often alluring because a leader can present himself as a national standard bearer, justifying his monopoly of power at home. Such a patriotic posture is a shortcut to popularity, but there is always a political bill to pay if confrontations and wars end in frustration and defeat. MbS has unwisely decided that Saudi Arabia should play a more active and aggressive role at the very moment that its real political and economic strength is ebbing. He is overplaying his hand and making too many enemies.

 

A Good Year for Israel and Its Friends

A bad year for the U.S. Constitution

December 19, 2017

by Philip Giraldi

The Unz Review

The unfortunate Donald Trump Administration decision to recognize Jerusalem as the capital of Israel serves no visible American interest, in spite of what some of the always-loyal-to-Israel punditry has been suggesting. Israel is already moving to exploit the situation in its usual fashion. Immediately after the announcement was made, Israeli Ambassador in Washington Ron Dermer suggested that the decision on Jerusalem could now be extended to include other disputed areas, most particularly Syria’s Golan Heights that were occupied in 1967. And the decision on Jerusalem itself will quite likely prove elastic as the Israeli government has already prepared legislation to incorporate large chunks of settlements into the city limits, far beyond the historic boundaries.

The currently popular among Zionists argument that recognizing Jerusalem will somehow perversely accelerate a drive for a final peace settlement with Israel as it will demonstrate to the Palestinians just how hopeless their cause is has little merit as desperation is more likely to lead to increased violence than a political solution. A more intriguing reading suggests that Israel, the United States and Saudi Arabia are conniving at squeezing even more Palestinians into a slightly enlarged prison-camp in Gaza, leaving the rest of the West Bank open for absorption by Israel. Again, such an outcome is not very likely as the 2.5 million Palestinians remaining in the region will likely have some say regarding the issue no matter how much pressure is exerted by the Saudis and Jared Kushner for them to submit.

Nothing good will come out of the Trump decision as the situation in the region is already starting to unravel. The Turks are talking about opening an Embassy to Palestine in East Jerusalem and the 56 other Muslim countries in the Organization of Islamic Cooperation might follow suit. Israel, which has physical control of the entire city, would use force to prevent that, creating some interesting new points of conflict in the Middle East. The U.S. would, of course, become involved given its role as Israel’s patron and protector. The evolving situation is likely to develop into Israel and the United States versus the rest of the world, with unfortunate consequences as the conflict will spill over into normally unrelated issues like trade and otherwise innocuous international agreements, while American travelers and businesses will increasingly become targets for terrorism.

If you want to understand the reason why the United States cannot pursue sensible objectives in the Middle East or anywhere else, one has to look no farther than the all too often Israel-centric neocons who have become adept at advising nearly everyone in the government from the White House on down regarding what should be done, particularly in foreign policy. The Trump Administration’s slowness in filling senior positions has meant that there are many vacancies, which has opened the door to eager neoconservative-leaning nominal Republicans to re-enter government. At the State Department Brian Hook of the neocon John Hay Initiative is now chief of policy planning, courtesy of Margaret Peterlin, Tillerson’s chief of staff. They have recently hired David Feith, the son of the infamous Pentagon Office of Special Plans head Doug Feith, to head the Asia desk. And Wes Mitchell, whose policies are largely indistinguishable from his predecessor, has replaced Victoria Nuland as Assistant Secretary for European and Eurasian Affairs. While Elliot Abrams, Eliot Cohen, the Kagans and other prominent neocons have been blocked, second-tier activists carrying less political baggage have quietly been brought in.

And Congress is to a certain extent the source of all evil, as its numerous committee meetings gorge on advice from experts who are frequently anything but, reflecting the hardline views of many of the legislators themselves with nary a contrary opinion in sight. A recent session of the Senate Armed Services Committee featured a statement by leading neocon Eric Edelman. His presentation is hawkish in the extreme, with particular focus on Iran and Russia. It can be summarized briefly by citing some of the section headings: “Adopt a post-ISIS Strategy for Syria and Iraq,” “Develop Credible Military Leverage Against Iran,” “Recognize Russia as an obstacle, not a partner,” “Increase internal pressure against the Iranian regime,” and “Enforce nuclear restrictions on Iran.”

So it’s garbage-in and garbage-out on how much of the government gets a large percentage of its information. And given the White House track record relating to Iran and Jerusalem over the past several months, one might also reasonably come to the conclusion that Israel will get whatever it wants, including a catastrophic war with Iran, because it’s also garbage-in at the White House by way of son-in-law Jared Kushner’s view of the Middle East.

But there is a second story playing out about Israel right here in the United States which should be even more concerning as what is happening on the ground in Palestine and Syria. You see, the problem that Israel has is that it is indeed an apartheid state based on race and religion. The 320,000 Palestinians attempting to hang on in and around East Jerusalem have no rights whatsoever and are being systematically forced out by being denied building permits and through arbitrary oversight by the Israeli military and police. Christian churches and foundations are also under pressure from the Israeli authorities but you won’t hear much about that from Congress or the White House.

The truth about Israel is quite unpleasant, so it has been necessary to construct a completely untrue but compelling counter-narrative which relies psychologically on cultivation of claims of perpetual victimhood linked repeatedly to the holocaust. The false narrative usually starts with the myth about Israel being the only democracy in the Middle East, that it is a tolerant place where all religions can worship and where everyone enjoys freedom under law. But, alas, poor Israel is treated unfairly by the international community solely because it is Jewish.

The reality of life in Israel is quite different if one bothers to ask any Palestinian Christian or Muslim who has the misfortune to live there. Or if one reads about the essentially racist de-humanization of Arabs by Israelis, which has led to the killing, beating and imprisonment of children as well as an army sniper’s recent shooting dead of a legless Palestinian protester in a wheelchair.

And once you construct the false narrative you have to protect it by making sure that no one can easily pose a challenge to it. Much of the national media is on board this effort, voluntarily limiting or eliminating any coverage that is negative about Israel. And major players in the alternative media community have come around also, with increasing direct censorship and other manipulation of material appearing on sites like Facebook and Google. The ultimate objective of the Israel Lobby is to follow the example in some European countries, where criticism of Israel is equated to anti-Semitism and is therefore categorized as a hate crime, with both civil and criminal penalties attached.

I have previously reported on how 24 states are now requiring statements pledging not to boycott Israel from those citizens and organizations that receive government funding or even seek local government employment. And there is the reported progress in Congress of the Israel Anti-Boycott Act and the Anti-Semitism Awareness Act, which constitute two major steps forward in the same direction. Both seek to define as anti-Semitism any criticism of Israel. On December 12th the Anti-Semitism Awareness Act was approved by the House of Representatives with 402 affirmative votes and only two libertarian-leaning congressmen voting “no.” The Israel Anti-Boycott Act that is also currently making its way through the Congress would far exceed what is happening at the state level and would set a new standard for deference to Israeli interests on the part of the national government. It would criminalize any U.S. citizen “engaged in interstate or foreign commerce” who supports a boycott of Israel or who even goes about “requesting the furnishing of information” regarding it, with penalties enforced through amendments of two existing laws, the Export Administration Act of 1979 and the Export-Import Act of 1945, that include potential fines of between $250,000 and $1 million and up to 20 years in prison. According to the Jewish Telegraph Agency, the Senate bill was drafted with the assistance of AIPAC.

Perhaps more dangerous than current and pending legislation, which is already being challenged in courts as a violation of First Amendment rights, are the bureaucrats being put in place by the Trump Administration to interpret and enforce laws and regulations. As we have discovered from the James Comey experience and the activities of some of his associates, senior bureaucrats have considerable freedom to interpret how they should carry out their responsibilities, making the “rule of law” standard for ethical government somewhat mythical. In that light, the recent naming of Kenneth Marcus as head of the Office of Civil Rights at the Department of Education should be raising red flags for those who are concerned about civil liberties.

Marcus is currently head of the Louis D. Brandeis Center for Human Rights Under Law, which he founded in 2011. The Center has been involved in serial litigation with one objective – stopping protests staged by students at colleges and universities against Israeli policies. Marcus is focused on silencing the non-violent Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions movement (BDS), which has been gaining in popularity among young Americans, and which the Israeli government sees as a major threat to its legitimacy. The Brandeis Center mission statement is clear: “The leading civil and human rights challenge facing North American Jewry is the resurgent problem of anti-Semitism and anti-Israelism on university campuses.”

For those who respond “So what? Marcus has a right to promote his viewpoints by whatever means,” the response might well be that his appointment is putting someone with a clear agenda in charge of an organization established to make sure there are no agendas relating to the civil rights of students. To be sure, Marcus has never won a case in court, but that is not what he is seeking to do. He is more interested in creating trouble, bad publicity and in driving up the costs due to litigation. As he describes it, “These cases – even when rejected – expose administrators to bad publicity… If a university shows a failure to treat initial complaints seriously, it hurts them with donors, faculty, political leaders and prospective students.”

Marcus will have the power and authority to deny federal funds to colleges and universities that do not meet his standards for action to quell the rising tide of Israel criticism, making him little different than the journalist who writes puff pieces on Israel or the politicians who takes PAC money and stands up twenty-nine times to applaud the monstrous Benjamin Netanyahu. Indeed, at Marcus’ confirmation hearing not one Senator asked him about his full-time advocacy for Israel.

Many universities are dependent on federal dollars and have already taken administrative steps to distance themselves from Israel criticism or to ban it altogether. Marcus will be able to move the bar even lower, putting pressure on colleges to drive the “Israel haters,” as he refers to them, out of the educational system. It is possible to foresee a future in which students will be free to criticize the United States on campus while discussing the foreign state of Israel with any candor will be forbidden.

 

The Palestinian Holocaust

December 20, 2017

by Christian Jürs

 

Article 2 of the UN Genocide Convention (see:The UN Genocide Convention ) states:

“In the present Convention, genocide means any of the following acts committed with intent to destroy, in whole or in part, a national, ethnic, racial or religious group, as such: a) Killing members of the group; b) Causing serious bodily or mental harm to members of the group; c) Deliberately inflicting on the group conditions of life calculated to bring about its physical destruction in whole or in part; d) Imposing measures intended to prevent births within the group; e) Forcibly transferring children of the group to another group”.

“Intent to destroy in whole or in part” – sustained (and frequently asserted) intent over about 150 years of the Zionist colonial project; 0.75 million Palestinian refugees in 1948; currently 7 million Palestinian refugees, and 4.2 million Palestinian refugees registered with the UN in the Middle East; over 40 years of illegal Israeli Occupation of the West Bank and Gaza; 0.1 million 1948-2011 violent Palestinian deaths, post-1967 excess deaths 0.3 million; post-1967 under-5 infant deaths 0.2 million; 3,600 under-5 year old Occupied Palestinian Territory (OPT) infants die avoidably EACH YEAR in the OPT “Prison” due to Apartheid Israeli war crimes.

  1. a) Killing – about 5,100,000 Palestinians killed since 1948; post-1967 excess deaths 0.3 million; post-1967 under-5 infant deaths 0.2 million; 3,600 under-5 year old Occupied Palestinian Territory (OPT) infants die avoidably EACH YEAR in the OPT “Prison” due to Israeli ignoring of the Geneva Convention; 254 OPT Palestinians killed by the Israeli military in the LAST 2 MONTHS OF 2008 ALONE, 301 killed thus last year (latest UNRWA data; see above).
  2. b) Causing serious bodily or mental harm – see (a) and the shocking UNICEF reports of the appalling conditions psychologically scarring OPT children:| At a glance: State of Palestine | UNICEF .

(c) Conditions to cause destruction in whole or in part – see (a) and (b); Professor Noam Chomsky describes the OPT as a highly abusive “Prison”; others use the valid term “Concentration Camp” and make parallels with the Warsaw Ghetto; one has to turn to US-guarded Vietnamese hamlets and the Nazi era atrocities to see routine, horrendously violent and deadly military policing of civilian concentration camps.

(d) Measures intended to prevent births – see (a), (b), and (c) above; dozens of pregnant women dying at road blocks; other killing of pregnant Palestinian women; huge infant mortality in the OPT with the Occupier in gross violation of the Geneva Convention.

(e) Forcible transferring of children – irreversible transferring by killing of children – 0.2 million post-invasion infant deaths; 27 OPT children violently killed in the LAST WEEK ALONE; mass imprisonment of 2 million OPT children; hundreds of Palestinian children in abusive Israeli high-security prisons in Israel; forcible separation of families by racist Israeli Apartheid Laws, marriage laws and immigration laws.

Since 1936, the ongoing Palestinian Genocide has involved about 2.0 million war- and occupation-related Palestinian deaths, 0.1 million Palestinians killed violently (see:Palestinian casualties of war – Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia ) , 1.9 million avoidable Palestinian deaths from war- , occupation- and expulsion-imposed deprivation, 7 million refugees. 3,000 Palestinian infants are passively murdered by Apartheid Israel each year, and 0.8 million Palestinian children are abusively confined to the Gaza Concentration Camp for the “crime” of being Indigenous Palestinians.

Each year Israel passively kills about 3,000 Occupied Palestinian infants, passively murders about 4,200 Occupied Palestinians through deprivation and violently kills another circa 600 Occupied Palestinians

 

US will ‘take names’ during UN General Assembly vote on Jerusalem

The UN General Assembly will hold an emergency session to vote on a measure that would require the US to rescind its decisions regarding Jerusalem. The US vetoed a Security Council vote on a similar measure on Monday.

December 20, 2017

DW

US Ambassador Nikki Haley on Tuesday warned she would report back to President Donald Trump with the names of countries that supported a draft resolution rejecting the US decision to recognize Jerusalem as Israel’s capital, following a UN General Assembly vote to take place on Thursday.

The UN General Assembly will hold an emergency session to vote on the measure which the US vetoed on Monday.

The remaining 14 council members voted in favor of the Egyptian-drafted resolution, including key US allies such as Italy, Japan, Britain, France and Ukraine.

While the five permanent members of the Security Council – the United States, France, Britain, Russia and China – had veto power in the first vote, there are no vetoes at the General Assembly.

“The president will be watching this vote carefully and has requested I report back on those countries who voted against us,” said a letter from Haley seen by AFP.

“We will take note of each and every vote on this issue,” she wrote to several UN ambassadors.

On Twitter, Haley posted that “the US will be taking names” during the vote on Thursday at the 193-nation assembly.

“We’re always asked to do more and give more,” Haley said in the Twitter post. “So, when we make a decision, at the will of the American people, about where to locate our embassy, we don’t expect those we’ve helped to target us. On Thursday there’ll be a vote criticizing our choice.”

Measure expresses “deep regret” over Jerusalem decisions

Turkey and Yemen requested the emergency session on behalf of the Arab group of countries and the Organization of the Islamic Cooperation.

The two countries’ draft measure echoes the measure that was vetoed on Monday, and reiterates that any decision on the status of Jerusalem has no legal effect and must be rescinded.

Similarly to the Egyptian-drafted measure, it does not directly reference Trump or the US, but it does express “deep regret at recent decisions concerning the status of Jerusalem.”

Palestinian Foreign Minister Riyad al-Malki had said the Palestinian Authority would seek support for the measure at the General Assembly if Haley exercised Washington’s veto.

Malki said in a statement that while Haley considered “the veto a source of pride and strength, we will show her their position is isolated and rejected internationally.”

Trump’s decision to recognize Jerusalem as Israel’s capital, as well as move the US Embassy to the city from Tel Aviv, sparked widespread anger and protests among Palestinians and Muslim communities worldwide.

Israel seized control of the eastern part of Jerusalem in the 1967 Middle East war and sees the whole of Jerusalem as its indivisible capital, while the Palestinians view the east as the capital of a future state.

Under a 1950 resolution, an emergency special session can be called for the General Assembly to consider a matter “with a view to making appropriate recommendations to members for collective measures” if the Security Council fails to act.

Only 10 emergency sessions have been convened. The last such session the General Assembly held was in 2009 on occupied East Jerusalem and Palestinian territories. Thursday’s meeting will be a resumption of that session.

US Vice President Mike Pence was expected to visit Jerusalem on Wednesday, but delayed his Middle East trip following the US veto, the White House announced.

 

Leaked report highlights Israel lobby’s failures

April 28, 2017

by Ali Abunimah

Electronic Intifada

Key Israel lobby groups have conceded that they have failed to counter the Palestine solidarity movement, despite vastly increasing their spending. The admission is contained in a secret report that The Electronic Intifada has obtained.

The report, published here in full for the first time, outlines Israel’s failure to stem the “impressive growth” and “significant successes” of the boycott, divestment and sanctions (BDS) movement for Palestinian rights.

It also sets out strategies, endorsed by the Israeli government, aimed at reversing the deterioration in Israel’s position.

But while calling for harsher measures against the Palestine solidarity movement, the report offers no new ideas to deal with how Israel is beset not by an image problem but a reality problem: its regime of occupation, settler-colonialism and apartheid is increasingly viewed around the world as reprehensible and unsustainable, even by many of Israel’s defenders.

The report nevertheless identifies key concerns and likely targets of Israel’s propaganda planners.

Even while attempting to come up with a formula to defeat it, the report admits that the movement for Palestinian rights is based on “appealing and sophisticated” arguments which Israel has so far failed to match.

The “20X question”

The report is spurred by what it calls the “20X question” – the fact that pro-Israel groups have increased their spending to combat the Palestine solidarity movement twenty-fold over the last six years and yet despite these tens of millions of dollars, “results remain elusive.”

The existence of the report had been revealed in February by The Jewish Daily Forward.

It was prepared by the Anti-Defamation League and the Reut Institute, an Israeli think tank founded by former government adviser Gidi Grinstein, with the help of “experts” from Israel lobby groups and the Israeli goverment.

According to the Forward, Reut and the ADL were “only circulating print copies of the report” among selected pro-Israel operatives, and the newspaper had received it on condition that it not be published in its entirety.

The full document can be read below.

“Significant successes”

Key findings of the ADL-Reut report include:

  • Palestine solidarity activists can boast “significant successes,” including creating an “unfavorable zeitgeist around Israel” in many parts of the world.
  • The Palestine solidarity movement has “expanded from Europe to the US and many other locations worldwide” and has “deepened its alliances with major minority groups and social justice coalitions.”
  • Palestine solidarity has “migrated into mainstream left-wing parties in Europe” and “may be gaining traction” in the US.
  • Israel’s repeated wars in Gaza – in 2009, 2012 and 2014 – have “boosted” support for the “delegitimization” of Israel.
  • “The targeted boycott effort against Israel’s continued presence in the West Bank, and particularly the settlements, is gaining momentum.”

Most of the “collateral damage” being done to Israel by the BDS movement is a result of a growing “silent boycott” – groups, individuals and companies who make undeclared decisions to refrain from engaging with Israel, either because of their support for Palestinian rights, or simply to “avoid unnecessary problems and criticisms.”

Endorsed by Israel

As The Electronic Intifada previously reported, based on the Forward’s summary, the document advocates “driving a wedge” between what it says are hard core “delegitimizers” who lead the BDS movement and “soft critics” of Israel. It advocates dealing with the hard core leaders “uncompromisingly” and “covertly.”

In 2010, Reut advocated for Israeli spy agencies to “sabotage” BDS as part of an “attacking” strategy.

The 2010 document shaped the strategy of Israel and its lobby groups around the world. The new report repeats key themes of the earlier document: it smears the Palestine solidarity movement as fostering anti-Semitism and attempts to tie that movement to Iran and “terrorism.”

This report carries a direct endorsement from a top official in Israel’s global battle against supporters of Palestinian rights.

“The correlation between the ministry’s mode of operation and what comes out of this document is very high,” Sima Vaknin-Gil, director general of Israel’s strategic affairs ministry, is quoted as saying. “I am glad to see that we share a very similar point of view regarding the challenge and desired strategy.”

Under its minister, Gilad Erdan, the strategic affairs ministry has been engaged in what one veteran reporter on Israeli intelligence has termed “black ops” against the Palestinian rights movement.

According to the analyst Yossi Melman, these attacks may include “defamation campaigns, harassment and threats to the lives of activists” as well as “infringing on and violating their privacy.”

The ADL-Reut report also reveals the identity of the strategic affairs ministry’s “director of intelligence.” Shai Har-Zvi is named as one of the many contributors to the document.

The report stresses the importance of gathering “intelligence” against the movement.

According to Melman, the ministry’s intelligence section is run by former spy agency operatives.

Trump bad for Israel?

The report recognizes that Israel is increasingly seen as a right-wing cause.

In the short-term, the election of Donald Trump may lead to a “warmer relationship” with Israel, as compared with the supposedly stormy Obama years, the ADL-Reut report states.

But in the long run Trump may be bad for Israel by associating it with his right-wing administration’s policies that are deeply unpopular with “many American Jews and non-Jewish liberals and progressives.”

“US Jewry is undergoing its deepest-ever identity crisis, in which the future role of Israel in Jewish identity looms large,” the report states. It predicts a “decrease in mainstream Jewish activism for Israel” and says that “increased Jewish anti-Israel activism” is already evident.

This erosion of Jewish support for and identification with Israel is a result of the “perception” that Israel is moving away from the image it promotes of a “pluralistic, peace-seeking and democratic” country.

“The government of Israel seems to under-appreciate the collateral damage to Israel’s standing among Diaspora Jewish communities” of its policies, the report states.

Efforts to combat the Palestine solidarity movement “will fail if they are accompanied by anti-Muslim sentiments that push soft critics and bystanders” towards the Palestine solidarity movement, the report warns. Harnessing and promoting Islamophobia has been a key tactic of Israel advocacy in recent years.

Driving people away

While Israel’s base of support has become narrower, the report sees a major challenge in the “rise of intersectionality” – the fact that other peoples struggling against violence and oppression see their situations as linked to that of the Palestinians.

“The Palestinian cause has been widely adopted” by “many marginalized groups,” it states.

The report mentions LGBTQ communities, Latinos and African Americans as groups increasingly sympathetic to Palestinian rights that should be intensively targeted by Israel lobby “engagement” efforts.

Israel, the report argues, has defined the enemy too broadly, lumping in “soft critics” who can be co-opted and even turned into allies against BDS, with the “delegitimizers” and “harsh critics” who must be fought uncompromisingly.

Yet Israel and some of its most vocal surrogates are ignoring this advice. At a recent Israel-sponsored anti-BDS conference in New York, a panelist attacked a Jewish student from the liberal Zionist group J Street as a representative of an “anti-Semitic organization.”

At the same conference, Reut Institute founder Gidi Grinstein stressed the need for Israel to win the support of progressives as it is only “through progressive groups we can win.”

Even more starkly, this week Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu antagonized one of Israel’s closest allies and arms suppliers when he canceled a meeting with Germany’s foreign minister Sigmar Gabriel.

Gabriel’s crime was that he planned to also meet with two leftist Zionist organizations, the human rights group B’Tselem and Breaking the Silence, which collects testimonies from Israeli soldiers about their violations of Palestinian rights.

Doubling down, Israel’s deputy foreign minister termed Breaking the Silence an “enemy” of Israel.

Gabriel said that if German leaders had acted in the same manner as Netanyahu, they would be called “crazy.”

The report warns that just such a “heavy-handed approach to soft critics may actually drive them away and closer to the anti-Israel camp, rather than bring them closer to Israel.”

The report also acknowledges that the anti-BDS laws pushed by Israel and its lobby in various countries have “raised concerns regarding their possible violation of free speech,” which is also turning off potential supporters of Israel.

No good answers

The 30-page report devotes a few sentences to acknowledging – at least partially – some of the root causes of Israel’s deteriorating global situation: “Israel’s policies regarding Palestinians in the West Bank, the absence of a peace process and the continuation of the settlements policy.” It also points to the “mistreatment of the indigenous population – the Arab citizens of Israel.”

But the report ignores the obvious, that Israel can end the BDS movement by ending the reasons for it: the systematic denial of Palestinian rights.

Instead, it recommends that Israel and its lobby double down on “positive messaging and branding” to portray Israel as a hub of “innovation” and “creativity” – deflection strategies that have failed so far.

The report acknowledges that what it calls the “delegitimization movement” is “founded on intellectual arguments that challenge the foundations of Zionism.” It identifies “a need to intellectually match those arguments in an equally appealing and sophisticated manner.”

Yet it is readily apparent that Zionist intellectuals have no compelling answer to arguments that there can be no such thing as a “Jewish and democratic state” without massive and ongoing violations of the basic rights of millions of Palestinians, especially refugees who are barred from returning to their homes solely because they are not Jews.

This is precisely why Israel and its lobby groups are attempting to redefine any questioning of Zionism’s political claims as a form of anti-Semitism.

This report sets as a goal to make “delegitimization” – any questioning of the “right” of Israel to exist as an explicitly Jewish state regardless of what that means for Palestinians – “socially inappropriate.”

By this definition, calling for a modern, democratic state in which Jews, Muslims, Christians and people of all national identities have full, equal and protected rights constitutes an anti-Semitic attack.

The ADL and the Reut Institute effectively acknowledge that Israel has no winning arguments that can sway so-called bystanders, people who don’t already have a view on its treatment of Palestinians. They warn that a “ ‘pre-emptive’ strategy of showcasing Israel’s side of the conflict among the bystanders, is unlikely to be effective. Only once the positive emotional connection has been set, then hasbara tactics may be effective.”

Hasbara is the Hebrew term for Israel’s state propaganda.

Asa Winstanley contributed analysis.

 

CEOs Aren’t Waiting for the Tax Bill to Pass — They’ve Already Started Pocketing the Windfall

December 18, 2017

by David Dayen

The Intercept

U.S. corporations are already beginning the process of pocketing the winnings from the tax bill jackpot they expect to hit any day now, undercutting, in a remarkably public fashion, the pretense that the corporate tax cut will lead to greater investment in job creation.

Since the Senate passed its version of the tax bill on December 2, 29 companies have announced $70.2 billion in stock buybacks, a maneuver that uses company cash to buy its own shares, which then drives up the price of those shares, rewarding major investors and executives whose compensation is directly tied to the company’s stock price.

The figure comes from a new report by Senate Democrats, which relies on the public statements of company executives. Stock buybacks, meanwhile, had been declining. There were $120 billion in buybacks in the entire second quarter of 2017, among all companies. The new figure — $70.2 billion in just 10 days, from just 29 companies — suggests that a surge of buybacks is in the offing if the tax bill becomes official, representing a staggering transfer of wealth from taxpayers straight to the wealthy.

As part of the tax bill, corporations will be able to bring back trillions of dollars parked overseas at a much lower tax rate than current law. Companies also benefit from a slashing of the corporate tax rate from 35 percent to 21 percent and the elimination of the corporate “alternative minimum tax,” which enables the use of as many deductions as possible to hold onto earnings.

Republicans insist that the trillions of dollars headed back to corporations will get funneled into investments, job creation, and wage growth, a recitation of the theory of trickle-down economics. Corporate CEOs beg to differ. In a now-famous interlude with White House National Economic Council Director Gary Cohn, CEOs were asked whether they would spend more from corporate treasuries if the tax bill passed. Only a few raised their hands. “Why aren’t the other hands up?” Cohn pleaded.

We now have 70.2 billion reasons why. And counting.

The companies announcing buybacks include some of the biggest in the world, like Home Depot, Oracle, Honeywell, Bank of America, Anthem, Boeing, MasterCard, and United Airlines. All of the announcements have come since December 5.

“Corporate CEOs have made clear that the massive tax giveaways in the Republican plan will not be passed on to workers but to rich investors — including the wealthy foreign investors who own about a third of the shares in American companies,” said Sen. Elizabeth Warren, D-Mass., in a statement accompanying the Senate Democrats’ report. “This plan will do nothing to stimulate the economy or raise wages — but it sure will make a bunch of rich guys a lot richer.”

The case of Oracle in particular is instructive. The software maker had $52 billion stashed overseas as of the end of 2016, the fifth most of any U.S. company, according to Moody’s Investors Service. Under the tax bill, that money would come back to the U.S. at a dramatically reduced tax rate. On December 14, the company announced a $12 billion buyback, with investors enjoying the benefits of the repatriated funds. Oracle co-founder Larry Ellison will receive an estimated $103.7 million in stock over the next five years, which actually represented a drop from his previous stock awards. With the buybacks, Ellison’s stock holdings will jump in value.

In 2004, President George W. Bush gave companies like Oracle a “repatriation tax holiday.” Hundreds of companies returned $312 billion in overseas earnings to the U.S. at a 5.25 percent tax rate. The Congressional Research Service cited one study showing that 91 percent of that money went to stock buybacks. Stock buybacks, as a result, jumped by 84 percent, according to a Goldman Sachs analysis.

The spectacle of companies announcing buybacks before the ink dries on the GOP tax bill ends all debate, if there was any left, on whether the tax cuts will lead to more jobs and better wages, or mass shareholder enrichment.

 

Inequality:  When will we see the world’s first trillionaire?

The fantastic fortunes of fictional characters are being outstripped by the assets of flesh-and-blood tycoons. Should we fear this explosion of super-wealth?

December 19, 2017

by Tom Campbell

The Guardian

Every so often Forbes, the magazine closely associated with America’s corporate elite, compiles its Fictional Fifteen – a chart of the wealthiest characters in film and literature, to complement its well-known annual list of the world’s wealthiest individuals.

After carefully assessing the assets of the likes of Bruce Wayne and Montgomery Burns, its most recent analysis concluded that Scrooge McDuck – mining magnate and uncle of Donald Duck – was top, with an estimated net worth of $65bn, narrowly beating the dragon Smaug.

But perhaps the most remarkable feature of an altogether remarkable list is rarely noted: the degree to which fictional billionaires have lost ground to real-life ones. According to Forbes, Jeff Bezos, the founder of Amazon with an estimated fortune of $98bn, has recently overtaken Bill Gates to become the world’s richest man. It seems we have reached the point where there are people in the world richer than we are capable of imagining.

Amazon’s share price has risen five-fold in as many years. If it continues at anything like this rate, Bezos, still only 53 years old, can expect to be worth hundreds of billions over the next decade. Indeed, a century since John D Rockefeller became the world’s first recorded billionaire, the prospect of the world’s first-ever trillionaire is now a serious possibility.

A trillion – at least by American reckoning – is a thousand billion dollars, or roughly the GDP of Mexico, and Bezos is leading a pack made up not only of technologists but also energy, finance, mining and retail tycoons from across North America, Europe and Asia. Their rankings and fortunes fluctuate daily in line with stock and commodity prices, but even if Bezos doesn’t get there we can be reasonably certain that the world’s first trillionaire will be male – there are only a dozen women in Forbes’ top hundred list, and none in the top 10.

Not so long ago, a trillionaire would have seemed almost as improbable as a mine-owning duck, and many were unconvinced when Oxfam speculated in January that it could happen within the next 25 years. But the last 12 months alone have seen the German, US and UK stock markets all hit record levels, along with robust economic growth and a resurgence in oil and commodities values. Already, on the basis of its market capitalisation, Apple is close to becoming the world’s first trillion-dollar company, and all this is before Donald Trump’s fiscal reforms take effect, slashing tax rates for the very wealthiest.

According to the newly-published World Inequality Report, this increase in wealth accumulation by the most prosperous is part of a longer-term trend: since 1980, the richest 0.1% of the global population increased its combined wealth by as much as the bottom 50%. The pattern is far from consistent: inequality has increased moderately in Europe, but rapidly in China and Russia as the countries have abandoned communism. It has been particularly pronounced in the US, which 30 years ago was comparable to western Europe, but has returned to the same levels of inequality that existed before the second world war, and is now home to four of the five richest men on the planet.

For Gabriel Zucman, economist at University of California and part of the team that produced the report, it is government policy rather than the changing nature of economic production that is mainly responsible. “There has been a number of forces leading to an increase in income and wealth inequality, but the most important ones are changes in policies: reduction in progressive income and wealth taxation; reduction in the power of unions; a fall in the minimum wage and privatisation of public assets.”

The worry with extreme wealth

Scrooge McDuck lives in the hilltop town of Duckburg, where he likes to sit on his pile of gold coins. But while the real super-rich tend to register their financial affairs in similarly obscure locations, they rarely spend much time in them.

Many of them, of course, have become major philanthropists, and it is highly likely that the world’s first trillionaire will do the same. Bill Gates is now almost as famous for his health programmes in the developing world as he is for his business achievements, and the transparency and rigour with which his foundation works has been widely applauded.

According to Jessica Toale, executive director of the Centre for Development Results, an organisation supporting the aid sector: “At their best, major philanthropic donors have not only brought funds, but have also raised the bar in terms of setting strategic objectives, supporting innovation and building an evidence base for what works

Bezos is yet to establish a charitable foundation on anything like the scale of Gates, but he has donated more than $60m to cancer research. He is also not the only tech billionaire to be fascinated by space travel, and has repeatedly spoken of his vision for humankind to colonise the solar system. As well as founding and investing heavily in Blue Origin, an aerospace manufacturer and spaceflights company, he has a passion for spacecraft reclamation and has spent large sums on salvage missions, recovering rocket parts from the Apollo space programme that had been lost at sea.

According to Dr Will Davies, co-director of the Political Economy Research Centre at Goldsmiths College: “While much philanthropy is entirely virtuous, there are obvious risks. When corporations make donations in areas, often they are pushing their strategic interests. The worry with extreme wealth is that it allows individuals to support potentially more outlandish agendas, and to cultivate pet projects that can grow into whole new academic fields.”

Other billionaires have more grounded interests, giving money to education, the arts and regeneration. In so doing, they have often become influential in shaping national policies and public affairs, not to mention city administration and the urban realm. In the UK, for instance, the Conservative peer Lord Harris has made substantial donations to schools and colleges, becoming a driving force in the government’s Free School programme. In the US, the collective wealth of Donald Trump’s initial cabinet was estimated at $14bn, with many of them having donated to his campaign.

Bezos was a supporter of Hillary Clinton in the US presidential election and has occasionally given money to Democrat candidates. While there is nothing new about businessmen donating to political parties, as their wealth has increased, so has the extent of their activities – including orchestrating campaigns, taking positions in government and standing for office.

While Donald Trump might be the most striking example, he did not set the template. Michael Bloomberg ran New York for a decade, Silvio Berlusconi used his wealth and media assets to dominate Italian politics, while Andrej Babiš, one of the richest men in Eastern Europe, has recently been elected prime minister of the Czech Republic after founding his own political party. According to Davies, these developments should be cause for profound concern: “The problem of corporate money having a damaging effect on democracy through lobbying has been supplemented by vast wealth in the hands of private individuals. This has the seeds of new type of oligarchy, reproduced by families over generations, able to influence policy and democracy with relative ease.”

The first great industrial titans were challenged by lawmakers, who introduced taxes and even broke up Rockefeller’s Standard Oil with anti-trust legislation. This gives Zucman hope that it is still possible to tame global inequality, in the way that it was in the mid-20th century, although he feels that governments and trans-national bodes are not doing nearly enough to address it. Rather, he thinks we will need to “invent new institutions, adapted to the realities and the problems of 21st-century capitalism”.

Davies agrees that “the moment is ripe for a populist reaction against these concentrations of wealth”, which could be channelled against technology monopolies such as Amazon, but fears regulators and governments have lost much of their authority in our current political culture. For Davies, the rise of the super-wealthy has gone hand-in-hand with a “successful conservative ideology which, supported by the right-wing media, has created the sense that the super-rich are less dangerous than government bureaucrats.”

Thus, in the absence of action, contemporary geopolitics is increasingly resembling that of medieval Europe, when power and wealth were synonymous, and the monarch was not only the dominant political figure in society, but also the richest landowner. As public policies and business interests reinforce one another, this trend is almost certain to continue for many years to come.

It may or may not be Jeff Bezos, but when the world does produce its first trillionaire, there is every likelihood that many of us will not simply be admiring, envying or resenting him – we will also be ruled by him.

 

Big Brother is watching? New Facebook facial recognition spots you even if you’re not tagged

December 19, 2017

RT

The world’s largest social network has just rolled out a new feature of its facial recognition technology that will notify users when someone has uploaded a photo of them even if they haven’t been tagged in it on Facebook.

The new feature sprang into action Tuesday. Facebook says it will “help people better manage their identity” on the platform “using face recognition.” Though not all of the network’s over 2 billion users will be able to avail of the new feature as those in the European Union and Canada are excluded due to privacy laws which prohibit Facebook’s use of facial recognition.

Under EU law, personal data can only be gathered legally under strict conditions, for a legitimate purpose. Furthermore, “persons or organisations which collect and manage your personal information must protect it from misuse and must respect certain rights of the data owners which are guaranteed by EU law.”

Once Facebook identifies an image it thinks your face is in, it will send a notification to a new Photo Review feature, much like the Timeline Review feature when someone tags you in a post.

Within the review section, users can then choose to tag themselves, send a message to the person who uploaded the photo, report the image for breaking the site’s rules or let Facebook know if the photo isn’t of them.

“These new features help you find photos that you’re not tagged in and help you detect when others might be attempting to use your image as their profile picture,” Joaquin Quinonero Candela, Facebook’s Director of Applied Machine Learning wrote.

Users can opt out of this new feature as Candela explains: “If your tag suggestions setting is currently set to “none,” then your default face recognition setting will be set to “off” and will remain that way until you decide to change it.” However if it is not, the user will have to opt-out.

This all sounds rosy, with Facebook just being the nice guy and allowing you better control over content about you but posted by others, but of course, it benefits the company too. More notifications equals more activity which in turn results in more ad impressions, the same can be said in relation to tagging.

 

Too late, Theresa: Brexit offer to EU citizens leaves many cold

December 20, 2017

by Estelle Shirbon

Reuters

LONDON (Reuters) – Back from Brussels with a hard-fought Brexit deal, Prime Minister Theresa May wrote an open letter to the three million citizens of other European Union states living in Britain.

“I know our country would be poorer if you left and I want you to stay,” she wrote after striking the initial agreement, which promises to secure their British residency rights after Brexit and allows the negotiations to move onto trade relations.

But for some EU nationals – who have endured uncertainty over their rights since the Brexit vote in June 2016, not to mention an unpleasant feeling that many Britons do not want them around – May’s Dec. 8 deal is too little, too late.

It’s too late to keep German nurse Daniela Jones in the chronically short-staffed National Health Service (NHS), where she worked for 35 years.

It’s too late for French psychotherapist Baya Salmon-Hawk, who after 40 years in Britain has moved to Ireland to remain in the EU.

It’s too late for French accountant Nathalie Duran, who is planning early retirement in France because after 31 years as a taxpayer in Britain she objects to being told she has to pay a fee and fill in forms to be granted a new “settled status”.

“I will have to regretfully decline your generous offer for settled status and oblige your lovely countrymen’s wishes and go home,” she wrote on Facebook in a response to May laden with irony.

Duran told Reuters that the prime minister’s “late outpouring of love” for EU citizens, after years of tough talk on the need to cut immigration, could not mask negative attitudes towards immigrants unleashed by the Brexit vote.

“I think it’s turning ugly,” said 56-year-old Duran. “It’s now OK to say ‘go home foreigners’.”

EU citizens, particularly those from the poorer eastern member states such as Poland and Romania, have complained of increasing hostility from some Britons.

They find themselves accused of stealing jobs from Britons and driving down wages, even though unemployment is at a four-decade low, or of overburdening health services as patients, even though many help to provide them by working for the NHS.

Official figures show hate crimes in Britain surged by the highest amount on record last year, with the Brexit vote a significant factor.

The impact of Brexit on EU citizens in Britain is a serious concern for sectors of the economy that rely heavily on European workers, such as hospitality, construction, agriculture, care for the elderly and the cherished NHS.

Britain won’t leave the bloc until March 2019, but many EU nationals are already voting with their feet. In the 12 months following the referendum, 123,000 of them left Britain, a 29 percent year-on-year increase.

They were still outnumbered by the 230,000 EU citizens who arrived to live in Britain in the same period, although that figure was down 19 percent on the previous year.

“A BRITISH JOB FOR A BRITISH WORKER”

Not everyone is making plans to go: 28,500 EU citizens applied for British citizenship in the 12 months after the referendum, an 80 percent year-on-year jump. With personal and professional roots often running deep, many more have applied for permanent residence documents.

UK citizenship would be an option for nurse Jones, 61, who moved to England from Munich just before her 18th birthday. That was in 1974, the year after Britain joined what is now the EU.

Today she has a grown-up British son and a British husband. But as a point of principle she cannot see why she should apply for something she never needed in the past.

“Despite my enormous love for Britain, I do not feel that I am British,” was how she put it in a letter to Ruth Deech, a pro-Brexit member of parliament’s House of Lords, sent in February to lobby her on the EU citizens’ rights issue.

In a one-line response to the long, impassioned letter, which made clear Jones had worked for 35 years in the state NHS, Deech said she should have applied for UK citizenship.

Jones replied it had never been necessary and explained that she was already a dual German and U.S. national through her German mother and her American father, a serviceman in the U.S. army who was posted to Germany in the 1950s.

Deech sent another one-liner: “You sought U.S. citizenship – presumably you could have shown the same commitment to this country.”

Jones was dismayed by that response, which in her eyes lacked understanding and respect. She began to think she needed to look after her own interests better.

A few months later, she quit her NHS job at a doctors’ office in Yateley, a small town southwest of London. She is now re-training as a foot and ear care specialist and plans to work privately.

“I still like looking after people but I want to do it on my own terms,” she told Reuters. “It’s time to get out. Work for myself, start a little business.”

Jones wrote to Deech again, saying: “I have now freed up a British job for a British worker.” This time she got no response.

Deech declined an interview request from Reuters, but said in an emailed response to questions that obtaining a British passport “might be a good idea for any EU citizen who is (probably needlessly) concerned”.

“A NEW ADVENTURE”

French national Baya Salmon-Hawk, 61, initially reacted to the Brexit vote by trying to make sure her residency rights were not under threat. Having lived in England for 40 years, had her son there, owned a home, worked in a variety of jobs and paid taxes, she thought that should be straightforward.

But when she made inquiries about a permanent residence permit she had obtained in 1977, she was told this was no longer valid and she would have to re-apply by filling an 85-page form and providing lots of documents, including details of every time she had left the country and returned, stretching back years.

Besides, Salmon-Hawk was struggling to adjust to the new reality. Having believed previously that she was integrated into British society, she felt unwelcome for the first time.

“I just don’t understand what’s happened to the UK,” she said. “I became quite easily upset by all this and I didn’t want to live like that anymore.”

She and her 74-year-old wife Audrey Evelyn, who is British, decided to leave. They sold their house in a village north of London, and in July this year they moved to County Kilkenny in Ireland, where Evelyn has family ties.

At times, Salmon-Hawk has wondered if they made the right decision. “I may have made a foolish mistake. I have woken up in the middle of the night in a state of panic,” she said.

But she is starting a new venture as a professional story-teller at Hook Lighthouse on the southeast coast of Ireland, telling visitors tales from Irish history.

“I thought I was done, I was settled, and I‘m not. I‘m having a new adventure.”

Reporting by Estelle Shirbon; editing by David Stamp

 

Suffering for Fun and Profit

December 20, 2017

by Christian Jürs

The “original” Anna Frank diary, that reposes in a Swiss bank, has been written with a ball point pen, something that did not exist at the time it was alleged  the diaries to have been written.

All in all, because of the additions, emendations and alterations to original notes, the ‘Anna Frank diary’, in the state it is presented today, is a fraud, in the same category as the “Wilkomerski” book, “Fragments” alleged to have been written by a young Jewish “Holocaust survivor.”

This disconnected work, initially eagerly accepted and greatly praised by the Jewish community, was written by a Protestant Swiss, Bruno Dossekker who was never in a concentration camp and is also a fraud.

“Holocaust” literature is studded with equally fraudulent works such as the “Painted Bird” and hundreds of other productions that, by rights ought to be in the fiction section of the libraries that carry them.

The sole purpose for the execution of these pathetic fictions is primarily to make money for their creators but secondarily to promote sympathy for the entire Jewish community based on pity.

Propaganda, as a weapon of psychological warfare is in even wider use today. Communists were masters of the art. Often they used the direct approach; just as often they employed diversion tactics to focus the eyes and ears of the world in directions other than where the real conflict was being waged.

For many years, through propaganda alone, the dead threat of Hitler and Nazism had been constantly held before the public in a diversion maneuver to keep attention from being directed against the live threat of Stalin, Khrushchev and Communism.

Such has been the effect, if not the deliberate intention of many who have promoted its distribution, of a book of popular appeal-‘The Diary of Anna Frank.’ It has been sold to the public as the actual diary of a young Jewish girl who died in a Nazi concentration camp after two years of abuse and horror.

Many Americans have read the book or seen the movie version, and have been deeply moved by the real life drama it claims to present. But have we been misled in the belief that Anna Frank actually wrote this diary? And if so, should an author be permitted to produce a work of fiction and sell it to the world as fact, particularly one of such tremendous emotional appeal?

These sort of pathetic refugees from the back wards seem to be drawn to the Holocausters…and they to them. There are now “Holocaust Survivors” as young as thirty, which is an interesting anomaly because the last concentration camp was closed in 1945. Perhaps they consider the last frenzied spring sale at Bloomingdale’s department store to be what they survived.

Next we can expect to see a book based on twenty-seven volumes of secret diaries prepared on a modern word processor within the current year by an alleged inhabitant of the Warsaw ghetto, describing the Nazi slaughter of tens of millions of weeping Jews by means that would shame a modern African state.

And, predictably, the publication of these howlers would be greeted with joy on the part of the fund raisers and fanatics, praised in the columns of the ‘New York Times’ and scripted by Steven Spielberg for a heart-wrenching and guaranteed Oscar-winning film.

Hundreds of thousands of DVD copies will be donated to American schools and the Jewish community will demand that subservient executive and legislative bodies in America create a Day of Atonement as a National Holiday to balance the terrible Christian Christmas and the wickedly Satanic Halloween.

Conservationists must hate these books because so many otherwise beautiful and useful trees are slaughtered for their preparation

In 1980, Otto Frank, Annie’s father, sued two Germans, Ernst Romer and Edgar Geiss, for distributing literature denouncing the diary as a forgery. The trial produced a study by official German handwriting experts that determined everything in the diary was written by the same person. The person that wrote the diaries had used a ballpoint pen throughout. Unfortunately for Herr Frank, the ballpoint pen was not available until 1951 whereas Anna was known to have died of typhus in 1944.

Because of the lawsuit in a German court, the German state forensic bureau, the Bundes Kriminal Amt [BKA] forensically examined the manuscript, which at that point in time consisted of three hardbound notebooks and 324 loose pages bound in a fourth notebook, with special forensic equipment.

The results of tests, performed at the BKA laboratories, showed that “significant” portions of the work, especially the fourth volume, were written with a ballpoint pen. Since ballpoint pens were not available before 1951, the BKA concluded those sections must have been added subsequently.

The BKA information, at the urgent request of the Jewish community, was redacted at the time for the German public but later inadvertently released to researchers in the United States.

In the end, BKA clearly determined that none of the diary handwriting matched known examples of Anna’s handwriting. The German magazine, Der Spiegel, published an account of this report alleging that (a) some editing postdated 1951; (b) an earlier expert had held that all the writing in the journal was bythe same hand; and thus (c) the entire diary was a postwar fake.

 

 

 

 

No responses yet

Leave a Reply