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Israel to free 2 Jerusalem prisoners on condition of exile

Ma’an – 15/01/2014

260439_345x230JERUSALEM – Israeli authorities on Wednesday agreed to free two Palestinian Jerusalemites on the condition that they be deported from Jerusalem, a prisoners’ committee spokesman said.

Amjad Abu Asab, a spokesman for a committee that represents Jerusalemite prisoners, told Ma’an that Israel agreed to free a member of the Palestinian Legislative Council and a former Minister of Jerusalem Affairs.

Abu Asab said that lawmaker Muhammad Tutah and former minister Khalid Abu Arafah have been detained for two years on the charge of entering Jerusalem “illegally,” after Israel revoked their Jerusalem IDs.

Both Tutah and Abu Arafah have also been accused of being leaders of the Hamas movement in the Jerusalem area, Abu Asab said.

The Israeli Supreme Court ruled that the 24-month imprisonment was sufficient punishment, and that the two should be released, giving the Israeli military prosecution a week to respond, he said.

The response came Wednesday that the prisoners would be released but would have to leave Jerusalem.

The two were detained by undercover Israeli forces on Jan. 23, 2012, from offices of the International Red Cross Committee in Jerusalem, Abu Asab said.

Israel annexed East Jerusalem in 1980 in a move never recognized by the international community.

Today, the Palestinian population numbers 293,000 in a city which counts roughly 800,000 residents, UN figures show.

In 2012, Israel’s Interior Ministry revoked the residency status of 116 Jerusalem Palestinians, bringing the total number over 46 years to more than 14,000 people, according to the Association for Civil Rights in Israel.

January 15, 2014 Posted by | Civil Liberties, Ethnic Cleansing, Racism, Zionism, Solidarity and Activism, War Crimes | , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Academic delegation to Palestine endures 10-hour interrogation

Ma’an – 15/01/2014

BETHLEHEM – Members of an academic delegation were held for 10 hours by Israeli security forces when crossing into Palestine from Jordan, a statement said Tuesday.

A delegation of six academics and a labor activist came to the West Bank to conduct meetings with Palestinian scholars “in order to better understand conditions on the ground and to facilitate future collaborations,” one of the members said in a statement.

University of Illinois professor Junaid Rana said that on Sunday, four members of the delegation were held and interrogated by Israeli security forces, Interior Ministry employees, and the military for over 10 hours at the border.

“They were pressed about their scholarly research, academic networks, family backgrounds, nationalities, and ethnic origins,” Rana said.

“The Israeli security officer demanded contact and cell phone information and two delegates were coerced into accessing their email accounts using Israeli security computers.”

Additionally, the members were asked about previous travel to Arab countries.

“Rana was also asked why he attended a conference on ‘Transnational American Studies’ at the American University of Beirut in Lebanon, and whether he had any political writings related to Israel,” the statement said.

It continued by condemning the interrogation: “Such actions are a clear violation of academic freedom, including the freedom to travel for scholarly research, and demonstrate tactics of intimidation and harassment of scholarly inquiry.”

Some of the delegates who were held belong to US academic associations — such as American Studies Association, Association of Asian American Studies, and Native American and Indigenous Studies Association — that have endorsed an academic and cultural boycott of “Israeli institutions that are complicit in the continued colonization of Palestine.”

Three of the delegates were also personal supporters of the Boycott, Divestment, and Sanctions movement, the statement said.

“The delegation recognizes that their experiences on January 12, 2014, pales in comparison with the everyday surveillance and criminalization of Palestinian academics who are consistently denied the freedoms to research, publish, and travel,” Rana added.

Palestinians, in addition to other Arabs, Muslims, and pro-Palestinian activists, are often held for hours — and sometimes denied entry — at border crossings controlled by Israel.

In December, the American Studies Association announced its decision to boycott of Israeli academic institutions.

A statement from the organization read at the time: “The ASA’s endorsement of the academic boycott emerges from the context of US military and other support for Israel; Israel’s violation of international law and UN resolutions; the documented impact of the Israeli occupation on Palestinian scholars and students; the extent to which Israeli institutions of higher education are a party to state policies that violate human rights; and finally, the support of such a resolution by a majority of ASA members.”

January 15, 2014 Posted by | Ethnic Cleansing, Racism, Zionism, Full Spectrum Dominance, Solidarity and Activism | , , , , , | Leave a comment

Medical Price Gouging

By RALPH NADER | CounterPunch | January 15, 2014

An epidemic of sky-rocketing medical costs has afflicted our country and grown to obscene proportions. Medical bills are bloated with waste, redundancy, profiteering, fraud and outrageous over-billing. Much is wrong with the process of pricing and providing health care.

The latest in this medical cost saga comes from new data released last week by National Nurses United (NNU), the nation’s largest nurse’s organization. In a news release, NNU revealed that fourteen hospitals in the United States are charging more than ten times their costs for treatment. Specifically, for every $100 one of these hospitals spends, the charge on the corresponding bill is nearly $1,200.

NNU’s key findings note that the top 100 most expensive U.S. hospitals have “a charge to cost ratio of 765 percent and higher — more than double the national average of 331 percent.” They found that despite the enactment of “Obamacare” — the Affordable Care Act — overall hospital charges experienced their largest increase in 16 years. For-profit hospitals continue to be the worst offenders with average charges of 503 percent of their costs compared to publically-run hospitals (“…including federal, state, county, city, or district operated hospitals, with public budgets and boards that meet in public…”) which show more restraint in pricing. The average charge ratios for these hospitals are 235 percent of their costs.

According to NNU’s data, the top 10 Most Expensive Hospitals in the U.S. listed according to the huge percentage of their charges relative to their costs are:

1. Meadowlands Hospital Medical Center, Secaucus, NJ – 1192%
2. Paul B. Hall Regional Medical Center, Painsville, KY – 1186%
3. Orange Park Medical Center, Orange Park, FL – 1139%
4. North Okaloosa Medical Center, Crestview, FL – 1137%
5. Gadsden Regional Medical Center, Gadsden, AL – 1128%
6. Bayonne Medical Center, Bayonne, NJ – 1084%
7. Brooksville Regional Hospital, Brooksville, FL – 1083%
8. Heart of Florida Regional Medical Center, Davenport, FL – 1058%
9. Chestnut Hill Hospital, Philadelphia, PA – 1058%
10. Oak Hill Hospital, Spring Hill, FL – 1052%

The needless complications of the vast medical marketplace have provided far too many opportunities for profiteering. Numerous examples of hospital visit bills feature enormous overcharges on simple supplies such as over-the-counter painkillers, gauze, bandages and even the markers used to prep patients for surgery. That’s not to mention the cost of more advanced procedures and the use of advanced medical equipment which are billed at several times their actual cost. These charges have resulted in many hundreds of millions of dollars in overcharges.

When pressed for answers, many hospital representatives are quick to defer to factors out of their control. It’s the cost of providing care they might say, or perhaps infer that other vague aspects of running the business of medical treatment add up and are factored into these massive charges. Cost allocations mix treatment costs with research budgets, cash reserves, and just plain accounting gimmicks. These excuses shouldn’t fly in the United States.

Few in the medical industry will acknowledge the troubling trend. One thing is undeniably certain however — the medical marketplace is not suffering for profits. Health-care in the United States is a nearly 3 trillion dollar a year industry replete with excessive profits for many hospitals, medical supply companies, pharmaceutical companies, labs and health insurance vendors.

Americans spend more on health care than anywhere else in the world. One would hope and wish, at the least, that this enormous expenditure would provide a quality of healthcare above and beyond that found in the rest of the western world. The reality is that the results on average are no better than in France, Germany, Canada and elsewhere, which manage to provide their quality treatment without all the overcharges.

Much like our similarly wasteful, bloated military budget, the U.S. spends more on health care than the next ten countries combined — most of which cover almost all of their citizens. The United States spends $8,233 per person, per year according to a 2012 figure from the Organization for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD). The average expenditure of the thirty three other developed nations OECD tracked is just $3,268 per person.

It gets worse. Harvard’s Malcolm Sparrow, the leading expert on health care billing fraud and abuse, conservatively estimates that 10 percent of all health care expenditure in the United States is lost to computerized billing fraud. That’s $270 billion dollars a year!

And unlike other commercial markets, where the advance of technology routinely makes costs lower, the reverse trend is in effect when providing medical care — the prices just keep soaring higher and higher. The flawed, messy Obamacare system will do little to help this worsening profit-grab crisis, which is often downright criminal in the way it exploits tragedy-stricken people and saddles them with mountains of debt.

Steven Brill’s TIME magazine cover story from February 2013 titled “Bitter Pill: Why Medical Bills Are Killing Us” gives an in-depth and highly-researched rundown of the severity of the medical cost problem and provides some of the worst, most astonishing examples of profiteering off of the plight of the sick or injured.

Here’s a fact that puts the full scope of this troubling trend into perspective — Brill writes: “The health-care industrial complex spends more than three times what the military industrial complex spends in Washington”. Specifically, the medical industry has spent $5.36 billion on lobbying in Washington D.C. since 1998. Compare that expenditure to the $1.53 billion spent lobbying by the also-bloated defense and aerospace sector.

One line summarizes the breadth of Brill’s enormous piece: “If you are confused by the notion that those least able to pay are the ones singled out to pay the highest rates, welcome to the American medical marketplace.”

Americans who can’t pay and therefore delay diagnosis and treatment are casualties. About 45,000 Americans die every year because they cannot afford health insurance according to a peer-reviewed report by Harvard Medical School researchers. No one dies in Canada, Germany, France or Britain because they do not have health insurance. They are all insured from the time they are born.

Obamacare, which has already confused and infuriated many Americans — and even some experts — with its complexity made up of thousands of pages of legislation and regulations is clearly not the answer to the problem. Long before the internet, President Lyndon Johnson enrolled 20 million elderly Americans into Medicare in six months using index cardsCanada’s single-payer system was enacted with only a thirteen page bill — and it covers everyone for less than half of the cost per capita compared to the U.S.’s system. (Check out 21 Ways the Canadian Health Care System is Better Than Obamacare)

Enacting a single payer, full Medicare-for-all system is the only chance the United States has of unwinding itself from the spider web of waste, harm, and bloat that currently comprise its highly flawed health insurance and health care systems. It’s time to cut out the corporate profiteers and purveyors of waste and fraud and introduce a system that works for everybody.

January 15, 2014 Posted by | Corruption, Economics | , , | Leave a comment

Firing Zone 918

January 15, 2014 Posted by | Ethnic Cleansing, Racism, Zionism, Illegal Occupation, Video, War Crimes | , , , | Leave a comment

Israelis set West Bank mosque on fire, as UN report reveals rise in settler violence

Al-Akhbar | January 15, 2014

IDF soldiers and Israeli settlers

A group of Israeli settlers set fire to a West Bank mosque and sprayed it with racist graffiti, Ma’an news agency reported on Wednesday.

The “price tag” attack comes as a United Nations report revealed that settler attacks on Palestinians have almost quadrupled in eight years.

Ayoub Abu Hijlah, the mayor of the northern village of Deir Istiya, told Ma’an that the settlers entered the village before dawn to set fire to the mosque’s door, causing minor damages.

The settlers also scrawled threatening graffiti on the walls of the mosque, including “Arabs out!” and “Best regards from Qusra,” in an allusion to an incident in early January in which a group of settlers was apprehended by Palestinian villagers as they intended to destroy their crops.

Another tag read: “The righteous shall rejoice when he seeth the vengeance: He shall wash his feet in the blood of the wicked.”

Palestinian Authority official Ghassan Daghlas said that residents managed to extinguish the blaze before it spread to the interior of the mosque.

Most price tag attacks against Palestinians are never prosecuted, and many take place in full view of Israeli troops. According to rights organization Yesh Din, indictments were only filed in 8.5 percent of 825 completed police investigations it monitored.

The UN Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA) report, relayed by the Associated Press, recorded 2,100 settler attacks since 2006, from 115 attacks that year to 399 in 2013.

OCHA figures estimated that in eight years, 10 Palestinians were killed by settlers, and more than 1,700 Palestinians were injured by settlers or by troops in clashes.

Israeli settlements in the West Bank and East Jerusalem are illegal under international law.

January 15, 2014 Posted by | Ethnic Cleansing, Racism, Zionism, Subjugation - Torture | , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Zionists covered up Sharon’s horrific words, deeds

By Kevin Barrett | Press TV | January 15, 2014

Ariel Sharon embodied the pure, unmitigated evil of Zionism. He was a war criminal, a terrorist, a mass murderer, a torturer, a rapist. The French term “genocidaire” also applies.

But Sharon did have one redeeming quality: He occasionally told the awful truth about himself and his country.

During the 1982 invasion of Lebanon, Sharon vented his real feelings in public. In a Hebrew-language interview with Israeli writer Amos Oz, Sharon said:

“Even today I volunteer to do the dirty work for Israel, to kill as many Arabs as necessary, to deport them, to expel and burn them, to have everyone hate us, to pull the rug out from underneath the feet of the Diaspora Jews, so that they will be forced to run to us crying. Even if it means blowing up a few synagogues, I don’t care. And I don’t mind if after the job is done you put me in front of a Nuremberg Trial and then jail me for life. Hang me if you want, as a war criminal… What your kind doesn’t understand is that the dirty work of Zionism is not finished yet, far from it.”

The interview was published in Hebrew in the Israeli newspaper Davar on December 17th, 1982, later reprinted in a book. The Sharon quotes were attributed to “Z,” a high-level, heavy-set, 50-year-old Israeli officer “with a certain history” who was also a prosperous farmer. Israeli readers knew that “Z” was obviously Ariel Sharon, who perfectly fit the description, and whose real feelings about the subjects discussed in the interview were not exactly a state secret.

At the time, Sharon had just been fired as Defense Minister due to the international outcry over the Sabra and Shatila massacres. This was obviously the “certain history” referred to. No Israeli reader or journalist at the time had the slightest doubt that “Z” was Sharon.

Why did Sharon risk venting his real feelings under such a transparent veil?

Because he thought he had nothing to lose. At the time, everyone assumed Sharon’s political and military career was finished. He had, after all, just orchestrated and supervised one of the ugliest and most brutal massacres in human history – and been caught red-handed and disgraced. It seemed likely that he would either be executed, imprisoned for life, or at least live out the rest of his life hiding from Interpol.

In the Oz interview, Sharon lashed out at the liberal Zionists who were throwing him to the dogs. He felt these liberal Zionists were hypocrites who were just as guilty of genocide as he was, but too cowardly to admit it. In this he was right.

Sharon actually bragged about being evil:

“Tell me, do the evil men of this world have a bad time? They hunt and catch whatever they feel like eating. They don’t suffer from indigestion and are not punished by Heaven. I want Israel to join that club. Maybe the world will then at last begin to fear us instead of feeling sorry. Maybe they will start to tremble, to fear our madness instead of admiring our nobility. Let them tremble, let them call us a mad state. Let them understand that we are a savage country, dangerous to our surroundings, not normal, that we might go wild, that we might start World War Three just like that, or that we might one day go crazy and burn all the oil fields in the Middle East. Personally, I don’t want to be any better than Harry Truman who snuffed out half a million Japanese with two fine bombs.”

Paradoxically, Sharon’s interview with Oz may have helped save his political career. Many Israelis identified with Sharon’s sentiments and admired his bluntness. As Israel turned to the right, Sharon and his ideas became increasingly mainstream.

By the 1990s, Sharon had returned to center-stage in the Likud government of Benjamin Netanyahu. Though his brutal words in the Oz interview had helped pave the way for his comeback – and were a net asset in domestic politics, given the genocidal sentiments of the average Israeli – they were a huge liability for someone who wanted to be Prime Minister and appear on the international stage.

Pressure was applied to Amos Oz. When an American journalist named Holger Jensen accurately reproduced the Sharon “Z” quotes in an article published in 2002, the Zionist Liars Lobby went into action. Suddenly, Oz (a dedicated Zionist himself) quite absurdly denied that “Z” was – as everyone in Israel knew and still knows – the butcher of Sabra and Shatila, Ariel Sharon.

That didn’t prevent the truth-teller from being punished. Holger Jensen was subjected to the Zionist equivalent of a journalistic lynching. To save his skin, he was forced to half-sincerely recant his attribution of the quote to Sharon, even though he obviously doubts the veracity of Oz’s disingenuous denial.

Here is another revealing quote attributed to Sharon :

“I vow that I’ll burn every Palestinian child that will be born in this area. The Palestinian woman and child are more dangerous than the man, because the Palestinian child’s existence infers that generations will go on…”

This quote, from an interview by Ouze Merham, has been disputed by the Zionists… which speaks for its likely authenticity! In any case, it accurately describes Sharon’s policies and actions. Under Sharon, the Israeli Defense Forces had a de facto official policy of “enticing Palestinian children like mice into a trap to murder them for sport,” as journalist Chris Hedges described it in his 2001 article “Gaza Diary.” The sport-shootings of children that Hedges witnessed are official Israeli policy; a British Medical Journal study a few years later confirmed more than 600 sniper murders of Palestinian children by the Israeli military.

The Zionist propaganda machine, which dominates Western media, works overtime to “scrub” such facts from public consciousness, just as it works to scrub the public record clean of Ariel Sharon’s too-revealing words. An apparent Mossad spin-off called CAMERA does much of the dirty work.

CAMERA has published outrageous lies about Sharon’s “Z” interview with Amos Oz. Now it is offering an even more ridiculous lie about Sharon’s notorious post-9/11 “We Jews control America” outburst.

In early October of 2001, three weeks after 9/11, Shimon Peres had been pressuring Ariel Sharon to respect American calls for a ceasefire, lest the Americans turn against Israel. According to a BBC News report, a furious Sharon turned toward Peres, saying: “Every time we do something you tell me Americans will do this and will do that. I want to tell you something very clear, don’t worry about American pressure on Israel. We, the Jewish people, control America, and the Americans know it.”

The report was picked up by the BBC from Israeli media. I heard it myself on BBC radio news. Yet CAMERA absurdly claims: “These quotes originated with the pro-Hamas American group Islamic Association for Palestine…” Unfortunately, the largely Zionist-owned-and-operated Western media often accepts the ludicrous propaganda of CAMERA, MEMRI, the ADL, and other Zionist-extremist propaganda outlets without critical examination.

Today, the professional liars are trying to rehabilitate the image of the brutal Zionist butcher Ariel Sharon – by papering over the historical record of his vicious words and deeds. We must not allow them to get away with it.

January 15, 2014 Posted by | Deception, Ethnic Cleansing, Racism, Zionism, Timeless or most popular, War Crimes | , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Israel, Pentagon ‘big winners’ in US spending bill

345768_President Barack Obama

Press TV – January 15, 2014

The Pentagon, defense industry and Israel came out as big winners in a bipartisan $1.1 trillion omnibus spending bill that would pay for government operations through October, a report says.

The massive measure, unveiled Monday night, fleshes out the details of the budget deal that US Congress passed last month.

The spending bill provides about $497 billion for the Pentagon in 2014 — about the same as in 2013. In addition, it allocates $85.2 billion for the war in Afghanistan as part of the Pentagon’s overseas contingency operations (OCO), $5 billion more than requested.

“The big winner is the Defense Department. They should be breaking out champagne in the Pentagon,” said Gordon Adams, a defense budget expert and former US official, as quoted by the Hill.

Before last month’s budget deal that relieved $22.4 billion in sequestration cuts, the Pentagon budget for 2014 would have been around $475 billion.

Fiscal watchdog and antiwar groups criticized the $5 billion increase from the Pentagon’s request in overseas contingency funding as a “slush fund to pad the department’s budget and avoid spending reductions,” the Hill said.

“There is no excuse for a $5 billion increase to OCO especially in a time of belt tightening throughout the federal government,” David Williams, president of Taxpayers Protection Alliance, said in a statement Tuesday.

The defense industry was also a winner in the omnibus spending bill, Adams said.

The bill largely fulfills the Pentagon’s procurement request for ships, aircraft, tanks, helicopters and other war-fighting equipment, including 29 new F-35 Joint Strike Fighters, eight new warships as requested by the Navy, and a variety of other aircraft like the V-22 Osprey, new and improved F-18 fighters and new Army helicopters.

Israel is also a “winner” in the spending measure, as it fully funds the Arrow, David’s Sling, and the Iron Dome rocket systems, the Hill said.

The spending bill authorizes $173 million in added funding for Israel’s missile systems, including nearly $34 million to improve the Arrow weapon system and $117.2 million for development of the David’s Sling short-range ballistic missile system and $22 million for an upper-tier interceptor.

The US provides $3.1 billion in annual military aid to Israel, making the Zionist regime the largest recipient of US aid in the world.

US President Barack Obama has pledged to extend annual military aid to Tel Aviv through 2027.

The pending 10-year military aid package would commit the United States to give up to $40 billion in military grant assistance to Israel. It would automatically kick in after the current 10-year, $30 billion agreement expires in 2017.

January 15, 2014 Posted by | Ethnic Cleansing, Racism, Zionism, Militarism, Progressive Hypocrite | , , , , , | 2 Comments

International activists physically and verbally abused in detention

International Solidarity Movement | January 15, 2014

Occupied Palestine – On Wednesday 8th January, Vincent Mainville and Fabio Theodule were arrested by Israeli border police in Khalil (Hebron).

The two boys were handcuffed and taken to Jaabara police station where they were forced to kneel on the concrete floor for approximately 30 minutes. Fabio was blindfolded with his own keffiyeh and while kneeling he was pushed against the wall by Israeli border police officers and kicked in his legs.

After an hour passed, the makeshift blindfold was removed although their hands remained cuffed behind their backs for the next four to five hours.

Fabio and Vincent were questioned by Israeli forces, both refusing to sign documents that were written in Hebrew. They were went taken to Kiryat Arba police station, fingerprinted and then interrogated once again. Several hours passed and it was only at this point that they were allowed to call their legal representative.

They were transferred to a police facility near Ben Gurion airport where they were made to wait outside in a prison courtyard for two hours. Fabio asked for water and was told by a border police officer, “If you want to drink, you can drink my piss”.

Fabio and Vincent repeatedly asked for jackets or a blanket due to the cold weather, they were both ignored.

They were taken inside this facility for 30 minutes before being transferred back to Kiryat Arba police station in Khalil. Their handcuffed were removed at 12:30 at night and they were placed in a cell to sleep.

In the morning, on Thursday 9th January, Vincent and Fabio were awakened and handcuffed at 6:30 in the morning. They received no information about their situation and were not informed they had a court hearing that morning. When they arrived at court in Jerusalem they were allowed to speak to their lawyer for approximately four minutes outside the courthouse, with Israeli border police present.

After they had the short conversation with their lawyer they were taken to the immigration office in Tel Aviv. The two activists tried to refuse to enter this building as they knew their lawyer was attempting to argue against their arrest [which was eventually declared illegal]. It was at this point Israeli forces became extremely aggressive, dragging both Vincent and Fabio by their handcuffs causing their wrists to bleed.

Vincent attempted to resist as they dragged both boys up a set of stairs and it was at this point a man from the immigration center kicked him in his ribs and his face. They were taken into a room and after one hour, were able to contact their lawyer, though they were not allowed privacy for this phone call.

Vincent asked if he could file charges against the man who has beat him, and he was told he was not allowed to do this.

At this point Vincent and Fabio were given food for the first time in 25 hours.

The boys were then taken to Giv’on prison in Ramle, close to Tel Aviv. They were unable to contact their lawyer again and received no information about their case, until they were finally able to be contacted by ISM two days later.

Vincent and Fabio are very likely to be deported within the next few days, their arrest has been ruled illegal by an Israeli court but this has not made any difference to their situation. Their treatment since being arrested should serve as a reminder in terms of how Israeli forces are able to treat their prisoners, whether justified or not. However, Vincent and Fabio as internationals have received far better treatment then Palestinian prisoners. The brutal treatment of Palestinian prisoners echoes throughout Palestine and serves as a daily reminder of the Israeli occupation.

January 15, 2014 Posted by | Ethnic Cleansing, Racism, Zionism, Solidarity and Activism, Subjugation - Torture | , , , , , | Leave a comment