Aletho News


Meet TISA: Another Major Treaty Negotiated In Secret Alongside TPP And TTIP


By Glyn Moody | Techdirt | April 29, 2014

This Wednesday evening there is to be a “Public Information Session and Discussion” (pdf) about TISA: the Trade in Services Agreement. If, like me, you’ve never heard of this, you might think it’s a new initiative. But it turns out that it’s been under way for more than a year: the previous USTR, Ron Kirk, informed Congress about it back in January 2013 (pdf). Aside from the occasional laconic press release from the USTR, a page put together by the Australian government, and a rather poorly-publicized consultation by the European Commission last year, there has been almost no public information about this agreement. A cynic might even think they were trying to keep it quiet.

Perhaps the best introduction to TISA comes from the Public Services International (PSI) organization, a global trade union federation representing 20 million people working in public services in 150 countries. Last year, it released a naturally skeptical brief on the proposed agreement (pdf):

At the beginning of 2012, about 20 WTO members (the EU counted as one) calling themselves “The Really Good Friends of Services” (RGF) launched secret unofficial talks towards drafting a treaty that would further liberalize trade and investment in services, and expand “regulatory disciplines” on all services sectors, including many public services. The “disciplines,” or treaty rules, would provide all foreign providers access to domestic markets at “no less favorable” conditions as domestic suppliers and would restrict governments’ ability to regulate, purchase and provide services. This would essentially change the regulation of many public and privatized or commercial services from serving the public interest to serving the profit interests of private, foreign corporations.

The Australian government’s TISA page fills in some details:

The TiSA negotiations will cover all services sectors. In addition to improved market access commitments, the negotiations also provide an opportunity to develop new disciplines (or trade rules) in areas where there has been significant developments since the WTO Uruguay Round negotiations. There negotiations will cover financial services; ICT services (including telecommunications and e-commerce); professional services; maritime transport services; air transport services, competitive delivery services; energy services; temporary entry of business persons; government procurement; and new rules on domestic regulation to ensure regulatory settings do not operate as a barrier to trade in services.

If that sounds familiar, it’s because very similar language is used to describe TAFTA/TTIP, which aims to liberalize trade and investment, to provide foreign investors with access to domestic markets on the same terms as local suppliers, to limit a government’s ability to regulate there by removing “non-tariff barriers” — described above as “regulatory settings” — and to use corporate sovereignty provisions to enforce investors’ rights.

Those similarities suggest TISA is part of a larger plan that includes not just TAFTA/TTIP, but TPP too, and which aims to cement the dominance of the US and EU in world trade against a background of Asia’s growing power. Indeed, it’s striking how membership of TISA coincides almost exactly with that of TTIP added to TPP:

The 23 TiSA parties currently comprise: Australia, Canada, Chile, Chinese Taipei, Colombia, Costa Rica, European Union (representing its 28 Member States), Hong Kong, Iceland, Israel, Japan, Liechtenstein, Mexico, New Zealand, Norway, Pakistan, Panama, Paraguay, Peru, Republic of Korea, Switzerland,, Turkey and the United States.

Once more, the rising economies of the BRICS nations — Brazil, Russia, India, China, South Africa — are all absent, and the clear intent, as with TTIP and TPP, is to impose the West’s terms on them. That’s explicitly recognized by one of the chief proponents of TISA, the European Services Forum:

the possible future agreement would for the time being fall short of the participation of some of the leading emerging economies, notably Brazil, China, India and the ASEAN countries. It is not desirable that all those countries would reap the benefits of the possible future agreement without in turn having to contribute to it and to be bound by its rules.

The Australian government’s page reveals that there have already been five rounds of negotiations — all held behind closed doors, of course, just as with TTIP and TPP. The Public Information Session taking place in Geneva this week seems to mark the start of a new phase in those negotiations, at least allowing some token transparency. Perhaps this has been provoked by the growing public anger over the secrecy surrounding TPP and TAFTA/TTIP, and fears that the longer TISA was kept out of the limelight, the worse the reaction would be when people found out about it.It seems appropriate, then, that the unexpected unveiling of this new global agreement should be greeted not only by an updated and more in-depth critique from the PSI — “TISA versus Public Services” — but also the first anti-TISA day of protest. Somehow, I don’t think it will be the last.

Follow me @glynmoody on Twitter or, and +glynmoody on Google+

April 29, 2014 Posted by | Deception, Economics | , , , , , , | Leave a comment

IPCC Third Assessment Report and the hockey stick

By Judith Curry | Climate Etc. | April 29, 2014

Back in April 2011, I had a post on The U.S. House of Representatives Hearing on Climate Change: Examining the Processes Used to Create Science and Policy.  John Christy’s testimony is worth revisiting, in two contexts:

  • problems with the IPCC process, most recently highlighted in context of WG3 [link]
  • the Steyn versus Mann and Mann versus Steyn lawsuits [link]

John Christy has a unique perspective on how the hockey stick became the icon of the Third Assessment Report (TAR) – he served as a Lead Author (along with Michael Mann) on Chapter 2 Observed Climate Variability and Change. Relevant excerpts from Christy’s testimony:

In simplified terms, IPCC Lead Authors are nominated by their countries, and downselected by the IPCC bureaucracy with help from others (the process is still not transparent to me – who really performs this down-select?) The basic assumption is that the scientists so chosen as Lead Authors (L.A.s) represent the highest level of expertise in particular fields of climate science (or some derivative aspect such as agricultural impacts) and so may be relied on to produce the most up-to-date and accurate assessment of the science. In one sense, the authors of these reports are volunteers since they are not paid. However, they do not go without salaries. Government scientists make up a large portion of the author teams and can be assigned to do such work, and in effect are paid to work on the IPCC by their governments. University scientists aren’t so lucky but can consider their IPCC effort as being so close to their normal research activities that salary charges to the university or grants occur. Travel expenses were paid by the IPCC for trips, in my case, to Australia, Paris, Tanzania, New Zealand, Hawaii, and Victoria, Canada. Perhaps it goes without saying that such treatment might give one the impression he or she is an important authority on climate.

As these small groups of L.A.s travel the world, they tend to form close communities which often re-enforce a view of the climate system that can be very difficult to penetrate with alternative ideas (sometimes called “confirmation bias” or “myside bias”.) They become an “establishment” as I call them. With such prominent positions as IPCC L.A.s on this high profile topic, especially if they support the view that climate change is an unfolding serious disaster, they would be honored with wide exposure in the media (and other sympathetic venues) as well as rewarded with repeated appointments to the IPCC process. In my case, evidently, one stint as an L.A. was enough.

The second basic problem (the first was the murkiness of our science) with these assessments is the significant authority granted the L.A.s. This is key to understanding the IPCC process. In essence, the L.A.s have virtually total control over the material and, as demonstrated below, behave in ways that can prevent full disclosure of the information that contradicts their own pet findings and which has serious implications for policy in the sections they author. While the L.A.s must solicit input for several contributors and respond to reviewer comments, they truly have the final say.

In preparing the IPCC text, L.A.s sit in judgment of material of which they themselves are likely to be a major player. Thus they are in the position to write the text that judges their own work as well as the work of their critics. In typical situations, this would be called a conflict of interest. Thus L.A.s, being human, are tempted to cite their own work heavily and neglect or belittle contradictory evidence (see examples below.) In the beginning, the scientists who wrote the IPCC assessment were generally aware of the new responsibility, the considerable uncertainties of climate science, and that consequences of their conclusions could generate burdensome policies. The first couple of reports were relatively cautious and rather equivocal.

In my opinion, as further assessments were created, a climate “establishment” came into being, dominating not only the IPCC but many other aspects of climate science, including peer-review of journals. Many L.A.s became essentially permanent fixtures in the IPCC process and rose to positions of prominence in their institutions as a side benefit. As a result, in my view, they had a vested interest in preserving past IPCC claims and affirming evermore confident new claims to demonstrate that the science was progressing under their watch and that financial support was well spent. Speaking out as I do about this process assured my absence of significant contribution on recent and future reports. Political influence cannot be ignored. As time went on, nations would tend to nominate only those authors whose climate change opinions were in line with a national political agenda which sought perceived advantages (i.e. political capital, economic gain, etc.) by promoting the notion of catastrophic human-induced climate change. Scientists with well-known alternative views would not be nominated or selected. Indeed, it became more and more difficult for dissension and skepticism to penetrate the process now run by this establishment. As noted in my InterAcademy Council (IAC) testimony, I saw a process in which L.A.s were transformed from serving as Brokers of science (and policy-relevant information) to Gatekeepers of a preferred point of view.

A focus evolved in the IPCC that tended to see enhanced greenhouse gas concentrations as the cause for whatever climate changes were being observed, particularly in the 2001(Third Assessment Report or TAR) which was further solidified in 2007, (the Fourth Assessment Report or AR4.) The IAC 2010 report on the IPCC noted this overconfidence when it stated that portions of the AR4 contained “many vague statements of ‘high confidence’ that are not supported sufficiently in the literature, not put into perspective, or are difficult to refute.’” (This last claim relates to the problem of generating “unfalsifiable hypotheses” discussed in my recent House testimony.)

My experience as Lead Author in the IPCC TAR, Chapter 2 “Observed Climate Variability and Change”, allowed me to observe how a key section of this chapter, which produced the famous Hockey Stick icon, was developed. My own topic was upper air temperature changes that eventually drew little attention, even though the data clearly indicated potentially serious inconsistencies for those who would advocate considerable confidence in climate model projections.

First, note these key points about the IPCC process: the L.A. is allowed (a) to have essentially complete control over the text, (b) sit in judgment of his/her own work as well as that of his/her critics and (c) to have the option of arbitrarily dismissing reviewer comments since he/she is granted the position of “authority” (unlike peer-review.) Add to this situation the rather unusual fact that the L.A. of this particular section had been awarded a PhD only a few months before his selection by the IPCC. Such a process can lead to a biased assessment of any science. But, problems are made more likely in climate science, because, as noted, ours is a murky field of research – we still can’t explain much of what happens in weather and climate.

The Hockey Stick curve depicts a slightly meandering Northern Hemisphere cooling trend from 1000 A.D. through 1900, which then suddenly swings upward in the last 80 years to temperatures warmer than any of the millennium when smoothed. To many, this appeared to be a “smoking gun” of temperature change proving that the 20th century warming was unprecedented and therefore likely to be the result of human emissions of greenhouse gases.

I will not debate the quality of the Hockey Stick – that has been effectively done elsewhere (and indeed there is voluminous discussion on this issue), so, whatever one might think of the Hockey Stick, one can readily understand that its promotion by the IPCC was problematic given the process outlined above. Indeed, with the evidence contained in the Climategate emails, we have a fairly clear picture of how this part of the IPCC TAR went awry. For a more detailed account of this incident with documentation, see

We were appointed L.A.s in 1998. The Hockey Stick was prominently featured during IPCC meetings from 1999 onward. I can assure the committee that those not familiar with issues regarding reconstructions of this type (and even many who should have been) were truly enamored by its depiction of temperature and sincerely wanted to believe it was truth. Skepticism was virtually non-existent. Indeed it was described as a “clear favourite” for the overall Policy Makers Summary (Folland, 0938031546.txt). In our Sept. 1999 meeting (Arusha, Tanzania) we were shown a plot containing more temperature curves than just the Hockey Stick including one from K. Briffa that diverged significantly from the others, showing a sharp cooling trend after 1960. It raised the obvious problem that if tree rings were not detecting the modern warming trend, they might also have missed comparable warming episodes in the past. In other words, absence of the Medieval warming in the Hockey Stick graph might simply mean tree ring proxies are unreliable, not that the climate really was relatively cooler.

The Briffa curve created disappointment for those who wanted “a nice tidy story” (Briffa 0938031546.txt). The L.A. remarked in emails that he did not want to cast “doubt on our ability to understand factors that influence these estimates” and thus, “undermine faith in paleoestimates” which would provide “fodder” to “skeptics” (Mann 0938018124.txt). One may interpret this to imply that being open and honest about uncertainties was not the purpose of this IPCC section. Between this email (22 Sep 1999) and the next draft sent out (Nov 1999, Fig. 2.25 Expert Review) two things happened: (a) the email referring to a “trick” to “hide the decline” for the preparation of report by the World Meteorological Organization was sent (Jones 0942777075.txt, “trick” is apparently referring to a splicing technique used by the L.A. in which non-paleo data were merged to massage away a cooling dip at the last decades of the original Hockey Stick) and (b) the cooling portion of Briffa’s curve had been truncated for the IPCC report (it is unclear as to who performed the truncation.)

In retrospect, this disagreement in temperature curves was simply an indication that such reconstructions using tree ring records contain significant uncertainties and may be unreliable in ways we do not currently understand or acknowledge. This should have been explained to the readers of the IPCC TAR and specifically our chapter. Highlighting that uncertainty would have been the proper scientific response to the evidence before us, but the emails show that some L.A.’s worried it would have diminished a sense of urgency about climate change (i.e. “dilutes the message rather significantly”, Folland, 0938031546.txt.)

When we met in February 2000 in Auckland NZ, the one disagreeable curve, as noted, was not the same anymore because it had been modified and truncated around 1960. Not being aware of the goings-on behind the scenes, I had apparently assumed a new published time series had appeared and the offensive one had been superceded (I can’t be certain of my actual thoughts in Feb. 2000). Now we know, however, that the offensive part of Briffa’s curve had simply been amputated after a new realization was created three months before. (It appears also that this same curve was apparently a double amputee, having its first 145 years chopped off too, see So, at this point, data which contradicted the Hockey Stick, whose creator was the L.A., had been eliminated. No one seemed to be alarmed (or in my case aware) that this had been done.

Procedures to guard against such manipulation of evidence are supposed to be in place whenever biases and conflicts of interest interfere with duties to report the whole truth, especially in assessments that have such potentially drastic policy implications. That the IPCC allowed this episode to happen shows, in my view, that the procedures were structurally deficient.

Even though the new temperature chart appeared to agree with the Hockey Stick, I still expressed my skepticism in this reconstruction as being evidence of actual temperature variations. Basically, this result relied considerably on a type of western U.S. tree-ring not known for its fidelity in reproducing large-scale temperatures (NRC 2006, pg. 52).

At the L.A. meetings, I indicated that there was virtually no inter-century precision in these measurements, i.e. they were not good enough to tell us which century might be warmer than another in the pre-calibration period (1000 to 1850.)

In one Climategate email, a Convening L.A., who wanted to feature the Hockey Stick at the time (though later was less enthusiastic), mentions “The tree ring results may still suffer from lack of multicentury time scale variance” and was “probably the most important issue to resolve in Chapter 2” (Folland, 0938031546.txt). This, in all likelihood, was a reference to (a) my expressed concern (see my 2001 comments to NRC below) as well as to (b) the prominence to which the Hockey Stick was predestined.

To compound this sad and deceptive situation, I had been quite impressed with some recent results by Dahl-Jensen et al., (Science 1998), in which Greenland ice-borehole temperatures had been deconvolved into a time series covering the past 20,000 years. This measurement indeed presented inter-century variations. Their result indicated a clear 500-year period of temperatures, warmer than the present, centered about 900 A.D. – commonly referred to as the Medieval Warm Period, a feature noticeably absent in the Hockey Stick. What is important about this is that whenever any mid to high-latitude location shows centuries of a particularly large temperature anomaly, the spatial scale that such a departure represents is also large. In other words, long time periods of warmth or coolness are equivalent to large spatial domains of warmth or coolness, such as Greenland can represent for the Northern Hemisphere (the domain of the Hockey Stick.)

I discussed this with the paleo-L.A. at each meeting, asking that he include this exceptional result in the document as evidence for temperature fluctuations different from his own. To me Dahl-Jensen et al.’s reconstruction was a more robust estimate of past temperatures than one produced from a certain set of western U.S. tree-ring proxies. But as the process stood, the L.A. was not required to acknowledge my suggestions, and I was not able to convince him otherwise. It is perhaps a failure of mine that I did not press the issue even harder or sought agreement from others who might have been likewise aware of the evidence against the Hockey Stick realization.

As it turned out, this exceptional paper by Dahl-Jensen et al. was not even mentioned in the appropriate section (TAR 2.3.2). There was a brief mention of similar evidence indicating warmer temperatures 1000 years ago from the Sargasso Sea sediments (TAR 2.3.3), but the text then quickly asserts, without citation, that this type of anomaly is not important to the hemisphere as a whole.

Thus, we see a situation where a contradictory data set from Greenland, which in terms of paleoclimate in my view was quite important, was not offered to the readers (the policymakers) for their consideration. In the end, the Hockey Stick appeared in Figure 1 of the IPCC Summary for Policymakers, without any other comparisons, a position of prominence that speaks for itself.

So, to summarize, an L.A. was given final say over a section which included as its (and the IPCC’s) featured product, his very own chart, and which allowed him to leave out not only entire studies that presented contrary evidence, but even to use another strategically edited data set that had originally displayed contrary evidence. This led to problems that have only recently been exposed. This process, in my opinion, illustrates that the IPCC did not provide policymakers with an unbiased evaluation of the science, whatever one thinks about the Hockey Stick as a temperature reconstruction.

Judith Curry comments:  Christy’s assessment, when combined with the University of East Anglia emails, provides substantial insight into how this hockey stick travesty occurred.  My main unanswered question is:  How did Michael Mann become a Lead Author on the TAR?  He received his Ph.D. in 1998, and presumably he was nominated or selected before the ink was dry on his Ph.D.  It is my suspicion that the U.S. did not nominate Mann (why would they nominate someone for this chapter without a Ph.D.?)  Here is the only thing I can find on the U.S. nomination process [link].  Instead, I suspect that the IPCC Bureau selected Mann; it seems that someone (John Houghton?) was enamored of the hockey stick and wanted to see it featured prominently in the TAR.  The actual selection of Lead Authors by the IPCC Bureau is indeed a mysterious process.

The IPCC process is clearly broken, and I don’t see anything in their recent policies that addresses the problems that Christy raises.  The policy makers clearly wrought havoc in context of the AR5 WG3 report; however there is a more insidious problem particularly with the WG1 scientists in terms of conflict of interest and the IPCC Bureau in terms of stacking the deck to produce the results that they want.

April 29, 2014 Posted by | Corruption, Deception, Science and Pseudo-Science, Timeless or most popular | | Leave a comment

Obama Ends Asian Tour With Little to Show for it

Prensa Latina | April 29, 2014

340097_President ObamaManila – U.S. President Barack Obama ended a tour today that included four Asian countries, accomplishing only the signing of a military agreement with the Philippines.

Of all the issues in Obama’s agenda, that was the only agreement to be brought to fruition, while Japan delayed its joining to a free trade agreement and Malaysia did not sign on either.

Obama’s South Korean stopover included a confirmation of Washington’s military reinforcement to Seoul, but the president met with no success in his attempt to improve relations with Tokyo, a regional ally.

The defense and security agreement with the Philippines will facilitate a greater U.S. naval presence in the archipelago, but thousands of people took the streets to protest the visit and the agreement.

Although the White House backs the Philippines in a territorial dispute with China, Obama clarified that the bilateral agreement does not aim at Beijing, with whom the United States maintains a constructive relationship.

Obama’s Asian tour cost taxpayers almost one billion USD, taking into account that a single day abroad for Obama costs more than $100 million USD.

April 29, 2014 Posted by | Economics, Militarism | , , , | Leave a comment

In Guantánamo Death Penalty Case, Torture Matters

By Marcellene Hearn | ACLU | April 29, 2014

I spent much of last week at the Post Theater in Fort Meade, watching the closed-circuit feed of the pre-trial military commissions hearings in the case of Abd al-Rahim Hussayn Muhammed al-Nashiri, who faces the death penalty for his alleged role in the bombing of the U.S.S. Cole.

The CIA’s torture of Mr. Nashiri, and what impact it will have on the proceeding going forward, dominated this round of hearings, both on screen and off.

“I believe Mr. al Nashiri has suffered torture, physical, psychological and sexual torture,” Dr. Sondra Crosby, an expert in treating victims of torture, testified onscreen. Dr. Crosby was called by the defense to provide an opinion on whether Mr. Nashiri is receiving appropriate medical care at the Guantánamo prison for the post-traumatic stress disorder he still suffers today as a result of his time in the CIA’s torture program.

Dr. Crosby’s testimony provided a stark example of what it means for the government to censor testimony about CIA torture. She could say, for example, that she observed scars on Mr. Nashiri’s body that are consistent with allegations of torture, but not what those allegations are. The public needs to hear the details, as terrible and uncomfortable as they may be, in open court, in order to have an informed debate about what happened in the CIA black sites and how it affects these military trials.

Off-screen, the big question was how the government would respond to military commissions Judge James Pohl’s groundbreaking order, made public last Tuesday, requiring the government to turn over to Mr. Nashiri’s lawyers detailed records from his “four-year odyssey” through the CIA’s rendition and torture program. That would include a timeline of every black site at which he was detained; the identities of every person who had “substantial contact” with him; all of his interrogation records, as well as those of the co-conspirators listed on his charge sheet; and the government’s policies and procedures related to the interrogation, treatment, and transportation of detainees it categorized as “high-value,” including Mr. Nashiri.

What’s so important about this information? For starters, the fact that Mr. Nashiri faces the death penalty means that his lawyers have an ethical duty to collect any facts that might persuade the military commission to apply a sentence of less than death. Here, according to his lawyers, that includes information about his brutal torture by the CIA.

Also, the government has indicated that it may use statements made by Mr. Nashiri and others after they arrived at Guantánamo in 2006. The military commission rules bar statements obtained through torture and cruel and inhuman treatment, but they don’t bar subsequent statements made “voluntarily” by the defendant. There’s a real question whether someone subjected to as much abuse as Mr. Nashiri could make any subsequent statement that is truly voluntary.

These issues can’t be addressed until Mr. Nashiri’s lawyers have all the facts about their client. Also, if information obtained from Mr. Nashiri and others after 2006 is found to be the fruit of coercive interrogations, then its use at trial is barred under the Constitution and international law.

On Wednesday afternoon, the government asked Judge Pohl to reconsider parts of his order. The judge won’t make his decision until the next set of hearings, and the government has apparently indicated it will appeal if Judge Pohl refuses to rule its way.

The government has another choice, though. After all, more information about what happened to Mr. Nashiri may be released to the public soon, as the government itself acknowledged in its filing to Judge Pohl. The Senate Select Committee on Intelligence recently sent the summary of its 6,000-plus page report on the CIA’s torture program to the executive for declassification review and release. That report apparently includes new facts about Mr. Nashiri, including that the CIA may have exaggerated its claims about his role in the bombing of the U.S.S. Cole.

With prospects for transparency about the torture program growing, the government could change course here, stop fighting Judge Pohl’s order, and turn over all of the information it has about what happened to Mr. Nashiri to his lawyers. There can be no fair trial without it.

April 29, 2014 Posted by | Deception, Subjugation - Torture | , , | Leave a comment

University of Regina set to endorse Israeli occupation?

By Andrew Loewen • Briarpatch Magazine • April 24, 2014

What would you do if the Canadian university you attended was planning to enter into a partnership with a university in another country whose persecution of your people meant you couldn’t speak out publicly – in Canada – for fear of reprisals against you and your family?

What if, further, the proposed partnership included course delivery for a degree in public safety management inside a country conducting a nearly 50-year-long occupation in contravention of international law? An occupation in which basic freedoms – of movement, speech, and self-determination – were denied your people, and in which security forces routinely imprisoned, shot, and killed civilians, including university students and children, with near total impunity.

Strange as it may sound, this is the reality facing Palestinian students at the University of Regina today. As part of a new MBA program in public safety management geared toward police service professionals, the Faculty of Business Administration is considering a partnership that would see students take optional courses at Israel’s Hebrew University in Jerusalem.

An open letter to administrators from University of Regina faculty highlights the kind of instruction on offer in the Policing and Homeland Security Studies program in the Faculty of Law at Hebrew University: “faculty expertise in this program includes ‘Policing terrorism, Political violence and protest policing, Minorities and law enforcement, Terrorism and crime, and Terror and society.’”

An article in the student newspaper The Carillon in late January alerted students to the proposed collaboration.

Speaking on condition of anonymity for fear of complications when returning to Palestine, a University of Regina alumnus and Regina resident says, “It’s a shame that the Board [of Governors] or the administration within the Faculty of Business kept it so low key. An educational institution is supposed to keep open channels of communication.”

According to the alumnus, “It says a lot about the nature of this co-operation [with Hebrew University] or even of the nature of this Faculty of Business. Maybe they know that this is bad publicity for them.”

Palestinians line up at an Israeli checkpoint near Bethlehem. Photo: Flickr/delayed gratification

The president and the dean

Following a 2012 trip to Israel as part of a delegation of Canadian academics, University President Vianne Timmons praised the work of Israeli academics in the fields of justice and police studies. “Israel is a leader in innovation,” she told the Canadian Jewish News.

President Timmons has declined interview requests regarding the potential MBA arrangement with Hebrew University, directing inquiries to the Dean of the Faculty of Business Administration, Andrew Gaudes.

When asked what Palestinian students on campus thought of the proposed partnership, Gaudes said in an interview, “I don’t know of any Palestinian students here on our campus.”

Asked if Palestinian students would be able to participate in courses delivered at Hebrew University, or if they could face unique travel restrictions, Gaudes said he had not looked into the matter: “There’s no point in me looking at something that’s not relevant to the program.”

But this rings hollow for Palestinian students. The Palestinian alumnus as well as a current Palestinian graduate student in the Faculty of Business Administration say that as Palestinians with dual (Palestinian-Canadian) citizenship they cannot enter Israel, nor can their Palestinian family and friends in the West Bank enter East Jerusalem, where Hebrew University is situated.

“They might approve [the visas] here, but that’s not what matters,” says the alumnus, stressing that it’s not Hebrew University but the Israeli military that has final say on travel and entry permits.

The current MBA student adds that millions of displaced Palestinians around the world are denied entry to their homeland. “So how is Dean Gaudes going to get them the visas to enter? It doesn’t make any sense,” she says.

Noting President Timmons’ remarks following her official visit to Israel in 2012, I asked the Dean which university administrators were behind the proposed partnership with Hebrew University. He said that the entire process was internal to the Faculty of Business. This account is not convincing for some.

The alumnus, who travels home to the West Bank annually, says, “The Faculty of Business does not make decisions for the university. [The President] knows exactly what’s going on.” He’s also skeptical of the Dean’s position that course content is the only consideration in such an arrangement.

“I’m taking courses in project management,” he says, “where they teach us that before entering into procurement agreements, it’s best practice to look at the firm’s history, to look at their policies, to look at their culture. You don’t just look at what you’re going to be getting from them, you look at everything in the background of that institution or corporation you’re going into a contract with. That’s important. If you’re skipping that step, you’re entering blindly.”

He points out that earlier this month, just days after my interview with the Dean, Israeli security forces stormed the campus of al-Quds Open University in the West Bank, firing at least 70 rounds of tear gas at students.

No ethics, no problem

When I sat down with the Dean in his office, I drew his attention to a recently published Amnesty International report called “Trigger-happy: Israel’s use of excessive force in the West Bank.” The report states, “Israel’s security forces have displayed a callous disregard for human life by killing scores of Palestinian civilians, including children, in the occupied West Bank over the past three years with near total impunity.”

I asked Gaudes how he reconciled this information with selecting an Israeli institution as an appropriate place for his students to learn public safety management and policing.

After an initial pause, Gaudes said he hoped that students from the program who “become mid to senior managers in the area of public safety” would be “more mindful of the impacts [of their decisions] at the ground level.” Referring to the Amnesty report, he said, “My hope is that if we’re educating managers [who] make decisions that can lead towards that possible outcome, they think twice.”

The irony of Gaudes’ remarks about mindfulness and the implications of decisions “at the ground level” is not lost on students. When reminded that undergraduates in the Faculty of Business must take courses in ethics and decision-making, Gaudes reiterated that his only consideration at this stage is the course content Hebrew University offers.

“It’s shocking that he would make that comment,” says the Palestinian alumnus.

“I’m worried about the content of what’s going to be delivered,” he says. “And not just the content. If it’s being conducted, where’s this research going to be put to test? Where’s it going to go? In decision-making in Canada or is it going to influence decision-making in Israel? That’s a big thing.”

It’s a chilling question for Palestinian students. “To me the content of what Hebrew University wants to do makes me think of a guinea pig experiment,” continues the University of Regina graduate. “From a Palestinian perspective, I look at myself right now as a guinea pig, because the policies that come out of Israeli universities inform the decision-making within the army. It serves the army that’s enforcing the occupation.”

Palestinian children stand in the rubble of a school in Gaza destroyed by Israeli shelling. Photo: Ashraf Amra/APA images

It is also of concern to Indigenous activists here in Canada, who are key targets of policing and surveillance operations. The website of the Office of the President at the University of Regina proudly incorporates Indigenization into the university’s mandate and vision. Yet, policies to impose Israeli curriculum on Palestinian students in East Jerusalem have resonances with Canada’s residential school system.

It’s part of an attempt “to slowly erase Palestinian identity,” says the former student. I asked the Dean how the partnership with Hebrew University would fit with the university’s commitment to Indigenization. He seemed confused by the question, before saying that he didn’t know.

The university’s reputation

The MBA student, meanwhile, is surprised by the Dean’s apparent lack of concern about the Faculty’s reputation and credibility. “I’ve been here a long time,” she says, “and all the instructors come into the class in the Faculty of Business Administration and say ‘we have to link all the courses together. What you learn in organizational behavior has to be linked to human resources, ethics has to be linked to statistics.’”

There is a sense of betrayal in her remarks: “Now if I’m sitting in the classroom and someone is standing in front of me lecturing from the Faculty of Business Administration about ethics? I would stand up and say that’s hypocrisy. You guys are teaching one thing and you’re doing something else. They will lose credibility with their students. It’s going to affect them really badly. I can’t believe they didn’t consider ethics in this way.”

Andrew Stevens, an assistant professor in the Faculty of Business Administration and a signatory of the open letter from faculty, has expressed similar concerns: “a partnership with Hebrew University, especially in the area of public safety and policing, could do damage to our reputation.”

Academic boycott

The MBA student says that had she known such a partnership might become reality, she never would have enrolled in the Faculty of Business at the University of Regina. She is likely not alone in this view, especially as the international campaign of boycott, divestment, and sanctions against Israel continues to build momentum on campuses worldwide.

Even in the U.S., where pro-Israel sentiment and propaganda is pervasive, the American Studies Association recently voted to endorse a boycott of Israeli academic institutions.

“The academic institutions and the [Israeli] army are interconnected and they influence one another. You cannot separate them,” says the MBA student, before underlining her central point: “The Faculty of Business Administration is actually supporting the occupation if it goes ahead with the partnership with Hebrew University.”

There has been no final decision on the proposed partnership, and it is not too late for administrators at the University of Regina to find more appropriate, more inclusive, and more respectable institutional partners abroad.


Join concerned students and faculty at the University of Regina t in calling for this partnership to be abandoned, please write to:

Dean Andrew Gaudes: Andrew DOT Gaudes AT
Associate Dean Ron Camp: Ronald DOT Camp AT
President Vianne Timmons: the DOT president AT

April 29, 2014 Posted by | Civil Liberties, Ethnic Cleansing, Racism, Zionism, Illegal Occupation, Solidarity and Activism, Subjugation - Torture | , , | 1 Comment

What ‘Destruction of Israel’?

Netanyahu’s 'destruction of Israel' mantra should not be taken seriously. (Photo: Wikimedia Commons)
Netanyahu’s ‘destruction of Israel’ mantra should not be taken seriously. (Photo: Wikimedia Commons)
By John V. Whitbeck | Palestine Chronicle | April 29, 2014

When, in response to the threat of potential Palestinian reconciliation and unity, the Israeli government suspended “negotiations” with the Palestine Liberation Organization on April 24 (five days before they were due to terminate in any event), Prime Minister Netanyahu’s office issued a statement asserting: “Instead of choosing peace, Abu Mazen formed an alliance with a murderous terrorist organization that calls for the destruction of Israel.”

In a series of related media appearances, Netanyahu hammered repeatedly on the “destruction of Israel” theme as a way of blaming Palestine for the predictable failure of the latest round of the seemingly perpetual “peace process”.

The extreme subjectivity of the epithet “terrorist” has been highlighted by two recent absurdities – the Egyptian military regime’s labeling of the Muslim Brotherhood, which has won all Egyptian elections since the overthrow of Hosni Mubarak, as a “terrorist” organization and the labeling by the de facto Ukrainian authorities, who came to power through illegally occupying government buildings in Kiev, of those opposing them by illegally occupying government buildings in eastern Ukraine as “terrorists”. In both cases, those who have overthrown democratically elected governments are labeling those who object to their coups as “terrorists”.

It is increasingly understood that the word “terrorist”, which has no agreed definition, is so subjective as to be devoid of any inherent meaning and that it is commonly abused by governments and others who apply it to whomever or whatever they hate in the hope of demonizing their adversaries, thereby discouraging and avoiding rational thought and discussion and, frequently, excusing their own illegal and immoral behavior.

Netanyahu’s assertion that Hamas “calls for the destruction of Israel” requires rational analysis as well.

He is not the only guilty party in this regard. The mainstream media in the West habitually attaches the phrase “pledged to the destruction of Israel” to each first mention of Hamas, almost as though it were part of Hamas’s name.

In the real world, what does the “destruction of Israel” actually mean? The land? The people? The ethno-religious-supremacist regime?

There can be no doubt that virtually all Palestinians – and probably still a significant number of Native Americans – wish that foreign colonists had never arrived in their homelands to ethnically cleanse them and take away their land and that some may even lay awake at night dreaming that they might, somehow, be able to turn back the clock or reverse history.

However, in the real world, Hamas is not remotely close to being in a position to cause Israel’s territory to sink beneath the Mediterranean or to wipe out its population or even to compel the Israeli regime to transform itself into a fully democratic state pledged to equal rights and dignity for all who live there. It is presumably the latter threat – the dreaded “bi-national state” – that Netanyahu has in mind when he speaks of the “destruction of Israel”.

For propaganda purposes, “destruction” sounds much less reasonable and desirable than “democracy” even when one is speaking about the same thing.

In the real world, Hamas has long made clear, notwithstanding its view that continuing negotiations within the framework of the American-monopolized “peace process” is pointless and a waste of time, that it does not object to the PLO’s trying to reach a two-state agreement with Israel; provided only that, to be accepted and respected by Hamas, any agreement reached would need to be submitted to and approved by the Palestinian people in a referendum.

In the real world, the Hamas vision (like the Fatah vision) of peaceful coexistence in Israel/Palestine is much closer to the “international consensus” on what a permanent peace should look like, as well as to international law and relevant UN resolutions, than the Israeli vision – to the extent that one can even discern the Israeli vision, since no Israeli government has ever seen fit to publicly reveal what its vision, if any exists beyond maintaining and managing the status quo indefinitely, actually looks like.

As the Fatah and Hamas visions have converged in recent years, the principal divergence has become Hamas’s insistence (entirely consistent with international law and relevant UN resolutions) that Israel must withdraw from the entire territory of the State of Palestine, which is defined in the UN General Assembly resolution of November 29, 2012, recognizing Palestine’s state status as “the Palestinian Territory occupied since 1967” (including, significantly, the definite article “the” missing from “withdraw from territories” in the arguably ambiguous UN Security Council Resolution 242), in contrast to Fatah’s more flexible willingness to consider agreed land swaps equal in size and value.

After winning the last Palestinian elections and after seven years of responsibility for governing Gaza under exceptionally difficult circumstances, Hamas has become a relatively “moderate” establishment party, struggling to rein in more radical groups and prevent them from firing artisanal rockets into southern Israel, a counterproductive symbolic gesture which Israeli governments publicly condemn but secretly welcome (and often seek to incite in response to their own more lethal violence) as evidence of Palestinian belligerence justifying their own intransigence.

Netanyahu’s “destruction of Israel” mantra should not be taken seriously, either by Western governments or by any thinking person. It is long overdue for the Western mainstream media to cease recycling mindless – and genuinely destructive – propaganda and to adapt their reporting to reality, and it is long overdue for Western governments to cease demonizing Hamas as an excuse for doing nothing constructive to end a brutal occupation which has now endured for almost 47 years.

April 29, 2014 Posted by | Ethnic Cleansing, Racism, Zionism, Illegal Occupation, Mainstream Media, Warmongering | , , , , | 2 Comments

Israeli army demolishes three houses and a mosque near Nablus


Photo by International Solidarity Movement
MEMO | April 29, 2014

Israeli army forces demolished three houses and a mosque in Khirbet Al-Taweel village near Nablus, North of West Bank, a Palestinian official reported today.

The official responsible for monitoring settlement activity in the northern West Bank, Ghassan Douglas told reporters that “a large force of Israeli army vehicles stormed Khirbet Al-Taweel village and declared the area a closed military zone amid tight security measures.

“The forces prevented residents from entering or leaving the village and students from going to their school then demolished a mosque and three houses belonging to Osama Anas, Anwar Sudqi Hani and Mohammed Sudqi Hani and three agricultural barracks.”

The buildings were destroyed because it was claimed they were built without the correct permits, he said.

According to Douglas, this is not the first time Israeli forces have demolished buildings in the village under the pretext they were built in area C, which lies under Israel’s security and administrative control according to the Oslo accords.

Douglas pointed out that Israeli army forces target the village to displace its residents and annex its land to attach it to nearby settlements or use them for army training.

He said Israeli army had recently handed its residents 18 demolition orders including one to demolish the village electricity grid.

The village’s land is vital for agriculture and constitutes natural pastures for over 30,000 cattle in nearby towns.

April 29, 2014 Posted by | Ethnic Cleansing, Racism, Zionism | , , | 1 Comment

Gaza’s Ark Attacked

Gaza’s Ark Steering Committee | April 29, 2014

GA-attacked-300x225At 3:45 AM Gaza time on April 29th, the night guard on board Gaza’s Ark received a call to leave the boat because it was going to be attacked.

The guard left, but when nothing happened, he returned after 5 minutes. A few minutes later, a large explosion rocked the boat causing extensive damage.

The boat sank part way and is now sitting on the shallow sea floor. The guard was not injured but was taken to hospital for tests.

Mahfouz Kabariti, Gaza’s Ark Project Manager, says: “The extent and nature of the damage are currently being investigated. We will provide an update when available.”

“Gaza’s Ark and all our partners in the Freedom Flotilla Coalition are considering our next move in response to this cowardly act of terrorism, but our position remains clear: Neither this nor any other attack will stop our efforts to challenge the blockade of Gaza until it ends,” adds David Heap of Gaza’s Ark Steering Committee.

“Freedom Flotilla boats have been sabotaged before. This attack comes as we were almost ready to sail. You can sink a boat but you can’t sink a movement,” concludes Ehab Lotayef, another member of the Steering Committee.

For information:
Ehab Lotayef +1-514-941-9792 <>
David Heap +1-519-859-3579 <>
Charlie Andreasson +970 (59) 8345327 <>

April 29, 2014 Posted by | Illegal Occupation, Subjugation - Torture | Leave a comment