Aletho News


At Universities, Too, the Rich Grow Richer

By Lawrence Wittner | May 17, 2013

Although many Americans believe their universities are places where administrators and faculty members coexist on a fairly equal basis, the reality is that this is far from the case.

According to recent surveys by the Chronicle of Higher Education, 35 private university presidents and 4 public university presidents topped $1 million in total earnings during the 2011-2012 fiscal year. Among the public university presidents, Graham Spanier of Pennsylvania State University received $2.9 million for that year, followed by Jay Gogue of Auburn University ($2.5 million), E. Gordon Gee of Ohio State University ($1.9 million), and Alan Merten of George Mason University ($1.9 million). Overall, the presidents of public universities — the poor relations of their private university counterparts — had a median annual total compensation of $441,392.

This very substantial income does not include many additional perks. According to the New York Times, President Gee is known for “the lavish lifestyle his job supports, including a rent-free mansion with an elevator, a pool and a tennis court and flights on private jets.”

Moreover, despite hard times, including pay cuts, for many Americans, university presidents are rapidly increasing their income. President Gogue’s annual earnings soared from $720,000 to $2.5 million in a single year. Between 2010-2011 and 2011-2012, the number of public university presidents in the $600,000 to $700,000 income range jumped from 13 to 28.

Of course, it might be argued that they “earned” these hefty incomes through superior performance on the job. But is this true?

President Spanier, whose $2.9 million income in 2011-2012 made him the best-paid public university president in the United States, resigned his post in November 2011. His resignation came five days after the arrest of Jerry Sandusky, the Penn State assistant football coach, on child sex abuse charges — charges that sparked nationwide outrage over that university’s failure for nearly a decade to alert law enforcement authorities to alleged sexual assault on campus. Spanier was himself charged criminally in an alleged cover-up of Sandusky’s crimes, although he continues to maintain his innocence.

In most cases, however, the bloated incomes of university presidents result from their fundraising prowess. President Gogue, whose $2.5 million compensation placed him second to Spanier, was lauded by Auburn University officials for his close relationship with business leaders. “In basic financial terms,” a university spokeswoman explained, “the return on investment is remarkably high.” Similarly, Hollis Hughes, Jr., the president of Ball State University’s board of trustees, justified the huge income of Jo Ann Gora, the university president — who, at just under $1 million income placed fifth in the financial ranking of public university presidents in 2011-2012 — on the basis of her success at fundraising.

Cultivating corporate and wealthy donors, of course, has long been a major task of university presidents, but it has become an obsession in recent years, especially as state governments have cut back funding for public universities. The nation’s largest public university system, the State University of New York, has gone from a situation in which the state paid 75 percent of the university’s costs and student tuition paid 25 percent to exactly the reverse, in which state support covers 25 percent of costs and student tuition covers most of the remainder. In these circumstances, public universities are desperately seeking to attract financial support from corporations and the wealthy, with obvious consequences when it comes to rewarding the top fundraisers and setting campus priorities.

Meanwhile, faculty members are left out in the cold. Despite the fact that most faculty at public universities have many years of graduate education, doctoral degrees, publications, and years of teaching experience, their average annual salary is just over $80,000 per year. These, of course, are the full-time, “regular” faculty. Part-timers, a talented but cheap labor force who administrators are increasingly substituting for full-timers, are paid, at best, a few thousand dollars per course. Thus, even when they shuttle from campus to campus, cobbling together the equivalent of a full course load, they are so impoverished that they qualify for food stamps. These part-timers and other “contingent” faculty — educators in temporary positions without job security– today constitute the vast majority of those who teach at American colleges and universities.

Nor do faculty salaries seem likely to rise very much. At the State University of New York, the faculty and professional staff are now voting on a new, five-year contract with the state that will provide them with a salary raise of about 1 percent a year – a raise that, when inflation is taken into account, will actually give them a salary reduction. Although United University Professions, their faculty/professional staff union that engaged in lengthy contract negotiations with the state, fought until the end for a minimum salary for part-time faculty, state negotiators — loyal to Governor Andrew Cuomo’s hostile approach to public sector workers — adamantly refused to consider it. Consequently, although top administrators can (and will) be paid increasingly outlandish amounts, there will be no salary floor for those who do the teaching and research.

On university campuses, it seems, everyone is equal. But some are much more equal than others.


May 18, 2013 Posted by | Corruption, Science and Pseudo-Science | , , , , , | Comments Off on At Universities, Too, the Rich Grow Richer

The Syrian Crisis: The Option

By Jeremy Salt | Palestine Chronicle | May 18 2013

Ankara – While all options are said to be still on the table, Barack Obama is clearly backing away from any deeper involvement in Syria now that it is clear that nothing but direct intervention is going to bring down the government in Damascus. In the past few months alone the armed groups have lost thousands of men. Although the conflict will grind on for some time yet, the Syrian military is steadily closing down the insurgency.

The sponsors of this adventure are in complete disarray. Like the Syrian National Council before it, the Syrian National Coalition has imploded. Muadh al Khatib is now a voice from the margins. Ghassan Hittu is the only person in the world who is the prime minister of a committee. These people are a completely lost cause.

In the real world and not the world of delusions there is horror at the video showing a ‘rebel’ commander cutting the heart out of the body of a dead soldier and biting into it. Perhaps it was the lungs or the liver. The media seems to be uncertain but somehow getting the organ right seems to be important. Far from denying this gory act, its perpetrator owned up to it before boasting of how he had sawed the bodies of captured shabiha into pieces.

Cannibalism appears to be a first but otherwise there is not much that the psychopaths inside the armed groups have not done in Syria. Or are people who can do such things not to be called psychopaths? They are the best people, after all, to fight such a vicious conflict. The self-styled Free Syrian Army says it will hunt down the man who cut out the soldier’s heart. Good. It can also hunt down the throat-cutters and the ‘rebels’ who have cut people’s heads off. It can hunt down the men who killed public servants before flinging their bodies from the top of the post office building in Al Bab. It can hunt down their comrades in arms who deliberately target civilians with car bombs. It can hunt down the murderers of the imam and 50 worshipers in the Damascus mosque and it can hunt down all the rapists and kidnappers, including the Chechens who abducted the two bishops still being held in Aleppo while the Christian leaders of western governments look the other way. In its hunting for all the individuals who have tainted its glorious reputation, the FSA won’t have to look far because many come from its own ranks. There is no shortage of evidence. The media is awash with gory mobile phone and video footage of the handiwork of these men because they take pride in their bravery and want the world to see. These are the people Saudi Arabia and Qatar have been arming and funding to take over Syria.

This is the reality behind the false narrative spun by the media for the past two years. It has regurgitated every lie and exaggeration of ‘activists’ and the so-called Syrian Observatory for Human Rights, according to which the Syrian ‘regime’ was about to fall any minute and every atrocity was actually the work of the Syrian military. With the exception of a few reports filed recently by Robert Fisk, virtually no one in the media mainstream has reported the fighting from the perspective of the Syrian government and army. Reporters were moved across borders by the armed groups and reported only their version of events. This is like relying on reporters embedded with the US army for an accurate account of what was happening in Iraq. And, again like Iraq, the same propaganda is being repeated about chemical weapons.

Finally, reality has had to take hold. It is not the ‘regime’ or the army which is on the point of collapse but the insurgency. Only direct armed intervention is going to save it and against the successes of the Syrian army and solid Russian support for the Syrian government this is extremely unlikely. Obama is being pushed to ‘do more’ but is showing no inclination to be sucked any deeper into this mess. The others will do nothing without the US taking the lead. Germany is against involvement and Austria has said that supplying arms to the ‘rebels’, which Britain has wanted to do, when the EU embargo ends on May 31 would be a violation of international law.

This week the spotlight has been on Turkey’s Prime Minister, Recep Tayyip Erdogan, and his trip to Washington to discuss Syria with Barack Obama. Turkey’s role in the unfolding of the Syrian conflict has been central. Saudi Arabia, Qatar and Libya supplied the money and arms but it was Turkey whose territory was opened up to the mobilization of armed men crossing the border to bring down the ‘regime.’ Erdogan has not stepped back an inch from the position he took against Bashar al Assad more than two years ago. The only clear case of a chemical weapons attack has been the chlorine-based compound packed into a warhead and fired at a Syrian army checkpoint at Khan al Assal, killing a number of soldiers and civilians. Erdogan, however, is maintaining that it is the Syrian army that has used chemical weapons and by doing so has crossed Obama’s ‘red line. ’ Asked shortly before he left for Washington whether he would support a no-fly zone he replied: ‘Right from the beginning we would say yes.’

Last week cars packed with more than one ton of C4 and TNT were exploded in the Hatay province border town of Reyhanli. At least 51 people were killed. The destruction was massive. The municipality building and dozens of shops were obliterated. In the aftermath, cars with Syrian number plates were smashed and Syrian refugees attacked by enraged local people. As they milled around the destruction they cursed Erdogan. The atrocity followed a pattern that is familiar to Syrians: one bomb going off and then others exploding after people had gathered around the site of the first one, maximizing the death toll.

Notwithstanding the accusations of the Turkish government that this was the work of a terrorist group collaborating with the Syrian mukhabarat (intelligence), only the armed groups or one of the governments backing them would have a clear reason for setting up this outrage. The Syrian army is rolling up the insurgency, the ‘traitors’ council’ based in Doha has imploded and the Americans and Russians are sitting down to talk. The attack was very clearly designed to pull Turkey directly into the conflict across the border.

The attack on Reyhanli came a week after Israel launched a series of savage air attacks on Syria. This was not a one-off missile strike. Two attacks in three days, lasting for hours and with massive ordinance being dropped around Damascus, suggest that the aim was to provoke a Syrian response, opening the door to a general war in which Iran could be attacked. Israel claimed that the target was a shipment of missiles bound for Hizbullah but while a research station and a military food production plant were hit there was no evidence of any missiles being destroyed. The attacks appear to have been a strategic and political failure. In the aftermath Putin gave Netanyahu a dressing down and punished him either by supplying or threatening to supply Syria with advanced S300 anti-aircraft missiles. It is a measure of Israel’s arrogance that it insisted that it would launch further attacks if necessary and would destroy the Syrian government if it dared to retaliate.

Obama is now under pressure at home to ‘do more’. In Washington the same people who called for war on Iraq are now calling for widening the conflict in Syria. Senator Bob Menendez, a strong supporter of Israel, like virtually all congressmen and women, has introduced a bill calling on the administration to supply the ‘rebels’ with arms (as if it were not already doing that covertly or through support for arms being supplied by Saudi Arabia and Qatar). Former New York Times editor Bill Keller supported the war on Iraq and also wants the US to arm the ‘rebels’ and ‘defend the civilians being slaughtered in their homes’ in Syria. He is not talking about the civilians who have been slaughtered by the armed groups, of course.

The Washington Post has been forced to admit that the Syrian army is winning this conflict but is still nonplussed at the unfavorable turns of events. ‘What if the US doesn’t intervene in Syria?’ it asks, before providing the answers. Syria will fracture along sectarian lines, with Jabhat al Nusra taking over the north and ‘remnants of the regime’ taking strips of the west. Sectarian warfare will spread to Iraq – as if it has not already as a consequence of US intervention – and Lebanon. Chemical weapons would be up for grabs, ‘probably forcing further interventions by Israel in order to prevent their acquisition by Hizbullah or Al Qaida’. If the US does not intervene to prevent all of this Turkey and Saudi Arabia ‘could conclude that the United States is no longer a reliable ally.’

There are other more likely answers to ‘what will happen’. This is that the Syrian army will eventually drive the surviving ‘rebels’ out of the country and Bashar will come out of this more popular than ever because he saw off the greatest challenge to the Syrian state in its history. Elections will be held in 2014 and he will be elected president with 75 per cent of the vote. This at least is what the CIA is predicting.

Erdogan came to Washington also wanting Obama to ‘do more’, but clearly the US president does not want to do much if anything more. The Turkish media reported that Obama said Assad ‘must’ go but this was not what he said. He chose his words carefully. In his press conference with Erdogan he did not say that said Assad ‘must’ go but that he ‘needs’ to go and ‘needs’ to transfer power to a transitional body. The difference is all-important. Personally, Obama will not want to end his presidency stuck in an unwinnable and unpopular war, one, furthermore, that could quickly shift from regional to global crisis. A recent Pew poll shows that the American people have had enough of wars in the Middle East and the talks between Kerry and Lavrov indicate that this time, having allowed the Geneva agreement of July, 2012, to fall flat, the US is serious about reaching a negotiated end to this crisis even if others aren’t. If there is any danger of the US position being derailed, it will mostly likely arise within the ranks of its friends and allies.

Jeremy Salt is an associate professor of Middle Eastern history and politics at Bilkent University in Ankara, Turkey.

May 18, 2013 Posted by | Deception, Mainstream Media, Warmongering, War Crimes, Wars for Israel | , , , , , | Comments Off on The Syrian Crisis: The Option

Israel’s dirty little secret: the ‘internally displaced persons’ it continues to deny basic rights

By Dr. Daud Abdullah | MEMO | May 17, 2013

Inevitably, the 65th anniversary of the Palestinian Nakba – Catastrophe – was overshadowed by calls to exercise refugees’ right of return. Although the vast majority of Palestinians live in forced exile and the focus tends to dwell on their plight, there are now an estimated 370,000 ‘internally displaced persons’ (IDPs) within the Israeli state. They are also denied the right to return to their homes and villages. No Nakba anniversary can pass without remembering them.

Unlike their compatriots in the wider Diaspora, the displaced Palestinians in Israel enjoy little international assistance and far less protection. Ever since the United Nations Relief and Works Agency (UNRWA) stopped providing services for them in 1952, they have remained refugees in their own land and second-class citizens in the state established around them.

From the very first, Israel never intended to accord equal rights to the 150,000 Palestinians who remained on their land as 750,000 of their compatriots were being driven into exile, despite an undertaking given in its ‘declaration of independence’ to ‘uphold the full social and political equality of all its citizens, without distinction of religion, race or sex’. The Palestinians have always been regarded as a ‘fifth column’ and a threat to the security of the state. As such, they were subjected to military rule from 1948 until 1966.

Under Israeli law, the IDPs are present in so far as they are obliged to pay taxes but absent in terms of their rights to employment, health care, water and education. They were assigned the absurd legal designation, unique to Israel, of ‘present-absentees’.

With no regard for their rights to ownership, the state has used its Absentee Property Law of 1950 to confiscate some 97 per cent of Palestinian land, leaving 1.5 million Palestinian citizens’ access to the remaining three per cent. These are either administered by the state or allocated to Zionist institutions such as the Jewish National Fund (JNF) for the exclusive use of Jews. Priority is given routinely to American Jews, followed by Europeans, Russians and others in that order.

While Palestinian villages which pre-date the state of Israel are denied basic services, newly-established Jewish settlements are granted them unconditionally. In 1992, the International Court of Justice in The Hague ruled that the Palestinian villages should be connected to the Israeli national water system. That has still not been done.

On another level, the Regulation and Construction Law prohibits Palestinians from repairing let alone building their homes on land which Israel classifies as ‘agricultural land’ or ‘closed military zones’. Their villages, mostly in the Negev and the Galilee, are ‘unrecognised’ by the state and, therefore, by definition ‘illegal’. The underlying purpose of all these classifications by Israel is to force its Palestinians citizens to leave; it is, in other words, ethnic cleansing by stealth.

If Palestinian homes in the West Bank, including Ramallah, are destroyed with impunity on the pretext that they have no proper licence, one can only imagine what is done to the ‘unrecognised villages’ in what Israel regards as its sovereign territory. Using the Emergency Laws inherited from the British Mandatory government, officials often post notices on homes earmarked for demolition, which are thereafter destroyed within forty-eight hours.

In the Negev, the Legal Centre for Arab Minority Rights in Israel – Adalah – reported the destruction of 2,200 homes and the forced displacement of more than 14,000 people between 2008 and 2011. In these villages women and children die in childbirth because they have no access to basic medical care of a kind accessible by Jewish immigrants the moment they land at Tel Aviv airport.

Nevertheless, the fact that Palestinians in Israel marked this year’s Nakba anniversary across the country demonstrates that after 65 years Israel has failed to erase their sense of identity and link to their land. Nor has it succeeded with its discriminatory laws to break the bonds between them and the rest of the Palestinian people; in fact, this has grown stronger. They all, to this day, share the common aspiration to return to their homes. After all the sacrifices they have made over the past 65 years it is inconceivable that the displaced Palestinians in Israel will submit to further ethnic cleansing.

The problem of the IDPs in Israel differs only marginally from that of the refugees in the Diaspora. Without doubt, they all share the common experience of dispossession and dislocation but because the IDPs didn’t cross international borders they have no access to humanitarian aid from the UNHCR or UNRWA. Though initially recognised and served by UNRWA, that came to an abrupt end in 1952 when Israel assumed responsibility for them not, it transpired, in order to provide for all of its citizens. Quite simply, and very cynically, the Israeli government wanted to divert attention from their officially-sanctioned maltreatment of its Palestinian citizens and prevent them from having access to international legal protection.

The full story of the IDPs in Israel is yet to be told. After 65 years their dream of return remains unfulfilled. Like the generation who were forcibly evicted in 1948 they also have a right to return to their homes. Their living, striving and dying over the past six decades were all with this objective in mind. Israel may delay it for some time but cannot prevent it in the long-term, because no people in history have ever accepted completely the loss of their homeland. The Palestinians’ day will come, with or without the approval of the Israeli government.

May 18, 2013 Posted by | Ethnic Cleansing, Racism, Zionism, Timeless or most popular | , , , , , , | Comments Off on Israel’s dirty little secret: the ‘internally displaced persons’ it continues to deny basic rights

UK activists to call for Israel sports boycott

Press TV – May 18, 2013

Pro-Palestine activists are to march on the Union of European Football Associations (UEFA) annual congress in London, demanding relocation of upcoming European under-21s championships in Israel.

In a press release on its official website on Tuesady, the Innovative Minds (inminds) campaign group said British activists are expected to take part in the march starting from St. Pancras railway station to Grosvenor House Hotel on Park Lane in London on Friday May 24, when delegates from UEFA’s 53 full member associations are due to gather in the UK’s capital.

The protesters will demand the governing body of football in Europe not hold the European Under-21 championships in Israel on June 5-18 and kick the apartheid regime of Israel out of UEFA.

They will also call for the immediate release of the Palestinian footballers Mohammed Sadi Nimer and Omar Abu Roweis who are kept in Israeli prisons.

Both footballers, who were abducted by Israeli forces in February 2012 raids on their homes, have been tortured at the regime’s interrogation centers.

Mahmoud Sarsak, another young footballer from Rafah refugee camp in Gaza, who had played professionally for the Palestine National Football Team, was incarcerated in Israel for three years without charge or trial.

Upon his release in July 2012 after a three-month hunger strike, he called for a sports boycott of Israel, saying, “I call on all those who spoke out for my release and the release of the Palestinian hunger strikers, to once again show their commitment to justice and equality by insisting that UEFA move their competitions away from Israel.”

May 18, 2013 Posted by | Ethnic Cleansing, Racism, Zionism, Illegal Occupation, Solidarity and Activism | , , , | Comments Off on UK activists to call for Israel sports boycott

Israeli archive file shows that Israel’s founder tried to erase Palestinian Nakba

By Saed Bannoura | IMEMC & Agencies | May 18, 2013

A new report published in the Israeli newspaper Ha’aretz describes the information found in a newly-uncovered document in the government archives, which reveals that the first Israeli government, including the first Prime Minister David Ben Gurion, worked to re-write the history of Israel’s founding in 1948 to deny the fact that over 750,000 Palestinians were forcibly expelled.

The file, number GL-18/17028, was apparently missed by the Israeli military censor, who has sealed all other historical documents related to Israel’s creation in 1948. With the advent of historians like Benny Morris, who went through previously de-classified documents in detail and found strong evidence of massacres of Palestinians by Israeli armed militias as well as the forced expulsion of most of the indigenous population of Palestine in 1948, documents that had been de-classified were sealed again and remain so until today.

There are currently no guidelines or timeline as to when the documents will be unsealed. However, the one file that the government censor missed has a great deal within it on the Palestinian Nakba (catastrophe), the 65th anniversary of which was marked by Palestinians and their supporters just this past Wednesday.

According to the Ha’aretz expose, “what has been uncovered provides enough information to establish that in many cases senior commanders of the Israel Defense Forces ordered Palestinians to be expelled and their homes blown up. The Israeli military not only updated Ben-Gurion about these events but also apparently received his prior authorization, in written or oral form, notably in Lod and Ramle, and in several villages in the north.”

The file also contains information on the Israeli hasbara (propaganda) campaign that was launched after the expulsion of the Palestinians, to try to re-write what happened and deny that the Palestinian people were forcibly expelled. The Ha’aretz expose says that in the early 1960s, under pressure from the Kennedy administration in the U.S. to address the crisis of the Palestinian refugees, Ben Gurion held a special meeting at the U.N.

According to the authors, “Ben-Gurion was convinced that the refugee problem was primarily one of public image ‏(hasbara‏). Israel, he believed, would be able to persuade the international community that the refugees had not been expelled, but had fled.”

One of the lies promoted in the propaganda campaign of the early 1960s was a claim that Arab and Palestinian leaders encouraged the Palestinian people to flee during the 1948 Nakba. But the evidence contained in the one unclassified file does not support that claim. Instead, it was the massacres by Israeli militias in places like Deir Yassin, in which over one hundred men, women and children were lined up and shot, that made so many Palestinians fear for their lives and flee.

The rest of the documents on the subject, including government reports and military narratives, remain classified. Many of the original documents have also been destroyed by the Israeli government, some of which (according to researchers who read them) contained accounts of massacres, rapes, brutality and excessive violence that would have been embarrassing to the Israeli state, as well as calling into question the narrative that the Israeli government promotes and the history it teaches its children.

May 18, 2013 Posted by | Deception, Ethnic Cleansing, Racism, Zionism, Timeless or most popular | , , , , , | Comments Off on Israeli archive file shows that Israel’s founder tried to erase Palestinian Nakba

Israeli forces open fire on Palestinians, injure 11

Al-Akhbar | May 18, 2013

Israeli troops shot and wounded nine Palestinians near the West Bank city of Ramallah on Friday night, and injured two others north of Hebron, security officials and medics said.

Palestinian security officials said that Palestinians from the Jalazoun refugee camp, near Ramallah, were hurling stones at Israeli motorists near an illegal Jewish settlement before coming under fire from soldiers.

They said that six of the injured were sent home after receiving first aid at a Palestinian hospital and three were kept in, although none of them was in life-threatening condition.

An army spokeswoman said that troops opened fire with 0.22 ammunition after tear gas and rubber bullets failed to disperse the crowd of about 50 people engaged in “a violent disturbance.”

Earlier in the day, troops fired tear gas at Palestinians demonstrating against the confiscation of land by Israel in the nearby village of Deir Jarir.

On Saturday the Israeli army used road blocks to shut the main road connecting Deir Jarir and other villages with Ramallah near the location of the attack, according to the head of the village council Imad Alawi.

Alawi told Wafa news agency that the road is the only direct passage to Ramallah for seven villages in the area. Its closure means Palestinians traveling to Ramallah must now take an extended route through the notorious Qalandia checkpoint.

It was unclear if the closure was directly linked to incidents on Friday.

And also on Friday, in al-Arrub refugee camp north of Hebron, Israeli forced shot two Palestinians with rubber-coated bullets, breaking the jaw of one man, and hitting the other in the hand, according to medics.

Luay al-Badawi was hit in the face with a plastic-coated bullet that broke his jaw, and then shot again in the head, Red Crescent official Nasser Qabaja told Ma’an news agency.

218958_345x230Badawi is in a critical condition in Al-Ahli Hospital in Hebron, Qabaja said.

Witnesses said a second man, who was not identified, was shot in the hand.

Locals said clashes erupted after Israeli forces stormed the camp. Residents confronted the soldiers and threw stones at them, and the soldiers fired tear gas and rubber coated-coated bullets.

An Israeli military spokeswoman said soldiers responded to a “violent riot in which Palestinians hurled rocks at Israeli security forces” with “riot dispersal means.”

She told Ma’an that forces used rubber bullets and that two Palestinians were injured.

(AFP, Wafa, Ma’an)

May 18, 2013 Posted by | Ethnic Cleansing, Racism, Zionism, Illegal Occupation, Subjugation - Torture | , , , , , , , | 1 Comment