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During his recent visit, former President Carter urged Palestinians to hold elections soon. Its been almost ten years since the last elections were held and therefore no officeholder in Palestine holds an electorally legitimate position given all terms have now long ago expired.

No election has been held in the occupied territories for nearly a decade.

Abbas's presidential mandate expired in 2009, but he remains in office since there has been no election. The Palestinian parliament has also not met since 2007.

In 2006, a year after Abbas was elected, Hamas won the most recent Palestinian legislative elections. Differences between Abbas's Fatah party and the Islamist Hamas then led to the so-called "inqissam", or division.

Despite the rivals signing a reconciliation agreement a year ago, Hamas is reluctant to hand over power in Gaza to an independent Palestinian unity government they formed.

Discuss

Thu Apr 23, 2015 at 04:11 PM PDT

Palestinian unity at "rock bottom"

by JNEREBEL

One year has passed since the Palestinian Authority and Hamas signed a breakthrough deal to establish a unity government over both the West Bank and Gaza Strip.  A year later and the effort at unity has hit rock bottom

"Nothing has changed on the ground. The reconciliation has stalled and we are heading for an even greater division," said Mukhaimer Abu Saada, a Gaza-based political scientist.

....

The promised elections, which were to have taken place before the end of 2014, have not materialised and officials admit the ballot is unlikely to happen any time soon.

The extent of the dispute was highlighted on Monday when a group of eight ministers and around 30 senior officials hurriedly left Gaza after admitting the "failure" of their mission.

....

During their brief visit to Gaza, the delegation members did not leave their hotel, with Hamas saying it was "by choice".

But Mahmud al-Zaq, a member of the Palestine Liberation Organisation (PLO), said it was due to the "thuggish" and "terrorist" methods of Hamas.

The unity government is the only feasible path to strengthening Palestinian civil institutions for its people and without such a functioning government it gives Bibi the Bozo an opportunity to deflect from his own blame for not contributing to moving the peace process forward.
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A scientific consensus has been reached on the effects of guns as outlined in an op-ed column in the LA Times today by David Hemenway, a professor at the Harvard School of Public Health and a director of the Harvard Injury Control Research Center.

In his column Professor Hemenway laments the journalistic "he said - she said" approach being used in stories on guns and crime as his understanding of the scientific literature gave no reason for using pro-gun rhetoric to balance reality.

He therefore determined to prove his understanding scientifically through polling.

My first step was to put together a list of relevant scientists. I decided that to qualify for the survey the researcher should have published on firearms in a peer-reviewed scientific journal, and that he or she should be an active scientist — someone who had published an article in the last four years. I was interested in social science and policy issues, so I wanted the articles to be directly relevant. I was not interested in scientists doing research in forensics, history, medical treatment, psychiatric issues, engineering or non-firearms (for example, nail guns, electron guns).

Most of the scientists who were publishing relevant articles were from the fields of criminology, economics, public policy, political science and public health. Since there are typically many more authors on public health articles than on criminology articles, to have a balanced list I decided to include only the first author on the byline. Graduate students working for me identified more than 300 distinct first authors, and found more than 280 email addresses.

Each month he and his graduate students would send survey questions to these scientists.

The survey results were unsurprising to him.

...one survey asked whether having a gun in the home increased the risk of suicide. An overwhelming share of the 150 people who responded, 84%, said yes.

...

I also found widespread confidence that a gun in the home increases the risk that a woman living in the home will be a victim of homicide (72% agree, 11% disagree) and that a gun in the home makes it a more dangerous place to be (64%) rather than a safer place (5%). There is consensus that guns are not used in self-defense far more often than they are used in crime (73% vs. 8%) and that the change to more permissive gun carrying laws has not reduced crime rates (62% vs. 9%). Finally, there is consensus that strong gun laws reduce homicide (71% vs. 12%).

You will always be able to find someone creating atmospherics in denying the science but the community has reached a consensus and it isn't a pretty picture for the NRA.
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Israel has for the first time inscribed the name of a Palestinian victim of terrorism on its memorial wall dedicated to those that have lost their lives to terror attacks.

Israel's defence ministry on Tuesday inscribed the name of a Palestinian teenager burned alive by his Jewish kidnappers on a memorial wall listing the victims of terror attacks.

....

Although a number of Arab names are featured on the wall, it is the first time the name of a Palestinian killed by Jewish Israelis has been listed.

The vast majority of the names are of Jewish Israelis killed in attacks carried out by Palestinian militants.

The Palestinian victim's father is upset with his son's name being placed on the memorial.
"I am Palestinian, not Israeli, even if I am a resident of east Jerusalem, and I do not want his name written next to that of Israeli soldiers," he said.
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In a report detailing evidence certainly to be used against members of Hamas during their future ICC trial, Amnesty International has declared multiple actions taken by the terror group during the recent Gaza war were war crimes.

Amnesty's conclusion: The military wing of Hamas committed war crimes, too, by indiscriminately firing unguided rockets and mortar rounds from civilian areas in Gaza at population centers in Israel.

The 70-page report found that rocket and mortar fire from the Palestinian militants also killed 13 Palestinians and six Israeli civilians.

Amnesty investigators report that a Palestinian projectile landed next to a supermarket in a refugee camp on July 28, killing 13 Palestinian civilians, 11 of them children playing in the street during a cease-fire.

In the immediate aftermath of the explosion at the al-Shati camp, Hamas spokesman Sami Abu Zuhri blamed Israeli airstrikes. In a text message to journalists, Zuhri called it a “massacre” and vowed that “this crime will not break our will.”

There were certainly posts on this site after the explosion at al-Shati blaming Israel for the attack.  

The conclusion reached by Amnesty that Hamas is guilty of war crimes for firing rockets from civilian areas into civilian areas is an obvious one.

It has already been suggested that the ICC will likely target Hamas activities before taking on claims of Israeli transgressions because the evidence is so clear and compelling of Hamas members guilt.  

The Amnesty report is evidence of the ease it will be in bringing justice.

Discuss

Funds for reconstructing the war torn Gaza Strip have dried up to the point where the UN has already halted its work due to a lack of money.

What has happened to the vast sums promised by donor countries after the conclusion of the latest war last summer?

“Some donors say why sponsor Israeli wars in Gaza every two years,” Mustafa said. “Some donor countries are concerned because of the atmosphere on the ground … because the reconstruction is not possible without enabling the (Palestinian) government to take the lead in all aspect of life in Gaza.”
And Hamas has refused to allow the PA to extend its security reach into the coastal enclave as per their earlier agreement.

So with little funds for reconstruction, paying civil service workers, or providing aid to its citizens where does Hamas spend what little money available to it?

Towards building more rockets of course.

A senior Hamas military official said Monday his Palestinian Islamist group which controls Gaza is rebuilding its heavily depleted rocket arsenal in case of fresh conflict with Israel.

"Any regional or international attempt to lay siege to Hamas or its armed wing is bound to fail," said Marwan Eissa, a commander of the Ezzedine al-Qassam Brigades armed wing.
.

Note the implied threat to the PA should they make an effort to demilitarize Gaza.  According to the agreement signed by Hamas the PA was due to regain security control of Gaza including not only borer control but also internal security.  The only successful path to achieve this would be for Hamas to either turn its security forces over to control of the unity government or to disarm outright. Hamas has done neither which prevents the PA from establishing security for Gaza which prevents donors from contributing to the rebuilding.

Instead of allowing the security to be turned over so that rebuilding from donor aid could continue, Hamas uses what little funds available to not help rebuild Gaza, but to rebuild its military threat instead.

Discuss

United States Secretary of State John Kerry has denounced the UN Human Rights Council's record of obsession with Israel at the detriment to people's lives elsewhere in the world in a speech to the world body today

Kerry said that the body's record on Israel was "deeply concerning" and that there had been a disproportionate focus on the country. "It must be said that the HRC's obsession with Israel actually risks undermining the credibility of the entire organisation. It has the potential to limit the good that we have to do. No one should doubt for a second that the United States will measure these things, I hope fairly and dispassionately, but we will oppose any effort by any participant in the U.N. system to arbitrarily and regularly delegitimise and isolate Israel, not just in the HRC but wherever it occurs," Kerry said.

......

 "Then there's the crisis in Ukraine. And here I urge the Council, look at the facts. Do not allow yourselves to be misled. In Crimea and in the separatist-controlled areas of eastern Ukraine, men, women and children are being killed. They're being tortured, they're being raped and sexually assaulted, detained arbitrarily, abducted for ransom, forced into labour, prosecuted and persecuted because of who they are and where they worship. That is what is happening. And it's up to the HRC to shed light on it and to help to hold accountable those who violate those human rights," he said.

Discuss

As diaried earlier, the Palestinian Authority has been on trial with a US civil court over bombings and shootings in Jerusalem that occurred over a decade ago.

The case involves these specific assaults

The case revolves around a January 7, 2001 machine gun attack; a January 22, 2002, assault rifle attack; suicide bombings on January 27, March 21, and June 19, 2002, and January 29, 2004; and a large-scale bombing attack on July 31, 2002 – all of which took place in Jerusalem.
.....

“For the first time, the Palestinian Authority will have to defend its policy of terrorism and murder before a jury of 12 ordinary New York residents,” said the Shurat Hadin organization, which is representing the plaintiffs.

“We are all very determined that the evidence of the Palestinian Authority’s responsibility for the Hebrew University cafeteria bombing and other intifada terrorist attacks targeting civilians will soon be presented to the jury.”

The trial has now concluded and a judgement filed against the Palestinian Authority.
A US jury on Monday found Palestinian authorities liable for six attacks in Jerusalem that killed and injured Americans, awarding victims and their families more than $218 million in damages.

Under the US anti-terrorism act, the damages are automatically tripled, meaning that the Palestinian Authority (PA) and Palestine Liberation Organization (PLO) are liable to pay more than $650 million.

.....

The 12-member jury decided unanimously that the PA and PLO were liable on 25 separate counts connected to the six attacks.

They apportioned individual damages ranging from $1 million to $25 million to Americans who were injured or lost loved ones.

Discuss

Wed Feb 18, 2015 at 09:28 AM PST

Bibi busted for brazen bogus bills

by JNEREBEL

The state comptroller of Israel has released a report blasting the spending habits of Bibi during his term of office as Prime Minister.  Both he and his wife were found to have engaged in lavish spending in the upkeep of both the official residence as well as his private residence and could result in criminal charges being filed.

The LA Times reports that spending

....often far exceeded necessity, formal budgets and good taste. In addition, the report pointed to improprieties in management of finances, human resources and external contractors.

When Netanyahu took office in 2009, expenses at both residences totaled roughly a half-million dollars a year. By 2011, that had roughly doubled before dropping to about $600,000 in 2013. Food and hosting expenses alone started out at about $55,000 and more than doubled to about $125,000 in 2011. After a modest cut in expenses the following year, expenses for 2013 dropped to near the 2009 level.

Cleaning both residences came with a particularly high price tag: an monthly average of about $20,000 between 2009 and 2013, including more than $2,000 a month for the Caesarea house, which was usually empty. Shapira found this spending “significantly exaggerated.”

About $20,000 a year was spent to order meal deliveries, despite employing an in-house cook. These and other expenses, Shapira wrote, were “not compatible with the basic principles of proportionality, reasonability, economy and efficiency.”

Given this report comes out barely a month before national elections, I am most hopeful this will be a nail in the political coffin of Bibi the bozo allowing for a progressive coalition to come to power and reverse the years of corrupt conservative power.

Recent polls show Likud locked in a tight race for Knesset control with the progressive slate of Zionist Union leading by one seat.

A channel 2 poll published Monday gave Isaac Herzog and Tzipi Livni’s Zionist Union 25 Knesset seats, one more than Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s Likud party, which received 24.

The poll, conducted by the Midgam polling firm among 700 respondents with a 3.5% margin of error, found that the Joint (Arab) List would gain 12 seats, making it the third largest Knesset party.

The Joint Arab List has stated they will not join any new government but would be willing to consider helping block Bibi regain the Prime Minister post.
While the Joint (Arab) List will definitely not join the next government, it may decide to form an obstructive bloc with the Zionist Union to prevent incumbent Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu from forming the coalition, a senior lawmaker with the faction said on Tuesday.
A decision on whether to help block Bibi will be made after the election results.
Discuss

What is the level of anti-semitism existent in Paris of today?  One Jew sought to find out using the "10 hours in...." format and discovered some truly disturbing people.

Klein's version takes place in the French capital. In the film he dons a kippah - the traditional Jewish skullcap - in front of the Eiffel Tower, and wanders the streets of the city. He appears to face significant abuse as he walks around. Residents are seen staring and spitting at him, while others apparently shout "Jew" and "Viva Palestine". The footage was gathered over 10 hours at the beginning of February, says Klein, and edited down into a clip lasting just over 90 seconds. It's been watched more than 100,000 times in less than 24 hours, and the number is climbing fast. He told BBC Trending he flew to Paris to conduct the experiment for NRG, a news website based in Israel.
Here is his experience:
Discuss

It has been 10 years since the accused terrorists from Hezbollah assassinated the Lebanese Prime Minister Rafik Hariri and to date justice has yet to have been served for the victim and the nation.

The Prime Minister, largely credited for the successful rebuilding of Beirut after the end of the country's civil war was killed by a bomb planted by five accused members of Hezbollah.

The defendants are being tried in absentia in the Netherlands by a U.N.-backed Special Tribunal for Lebanon despite threats by the leader of the terror group.

Hezbollah's leader Hassan Nasrallah, who has cast the assassination and tribunal as an Israeli plot, has warned he would "cut off the hand" of anyone who tries to arrest the five Hezbollah suspects, saying the tribunal will never get its hands on them, not "even in 300 years."
 

Since the beginning of the trial in January 2014 there have been many Lebanese politicians and witnesses travel to give testimony to the tribunal and a verdict is expected within a year.

Court spokeswoman Marianne El Hajj said the tribunal is delivering justice, even without the defendants in court, and said she hopes it will have a positive impact across the Middle East and North Africa.

"The region is changing and its people are demanding justice and accountability," she said.

The long path to justice has not yet reached its end, but it will one day and by doing so will be
seen as a small but necessary step toward ending a culture of impunity in an increasingly violent region.
Discuss

Turkey's coercive regime under its strongman, President Tayyip  Erdogan has arrested a 16 year old teenager for a speech given at a school protest.

Not content in being considered a corrupt, repressive, misogynistic and anti-semitic regime arresting teens for 'insults' now seems to be the new dirty deed.

The teenager's lawyers have appealed against the prosecution, which came after he read out a statement during a ceremony to commemorate the killing of a Turkish soldier by Islamists in the 1920s.

In a video broadcast by Dogan News Agency, the teenager read out a statement defending secularism and the principles of Mustafa Kemal Ataturk, the founder of the modern Turkish republic.

He slammed the ruling AK Party government and Erdogan personally over corruption allegations, as a crowd surrounding him chanted "everywhere is bribery, everywhere is corruption".

....

The boy's arrest sparked fierce criticism of Erdogan by opponents.

Atilla Kart, a lawmaker with the main opposition party CHP, said on Twitter that "an environment of fear, oppression and threat" was being created by the presidency.

Just how low Erdogan will go no one can know. But he goes lower and lower each day digging for his next target of bigotry and abuse.
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