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Recent Publications from New English Review Press
Unreading Shakespeare
by David P. Gontar
Islam Through the Looking Glass: The Collected Essays and Reviews of J. B. Kelly, Vol. 3
edited by S. B. Kelly
The Real Nature of Religion
by Rebecca Bynum
As Far As The Eye Can See
by Moshe Dann
Threats of Pain and Ruin
by Theodore Dalrymple
The Oil Cringe of the West: The Collected Essays and Reviews of J.B. Kelly Vol. 2
edited by S.B. Kelly
The Impact of Islam
by Emmet Scott
Sir Walter Scott's Crusades and Other Fantasies
by Ibn Warraq
Fighting the Retreat from Arabia and the Gulf: The Collected Essays and Reviews of J.B. Kelly. Vol. 1
edited by S.B. Kelly
The Literary Culture of France
by J. E. G. Dixon
Hamlet Made Simple and Other Essays
by David P. Gontar
Farewell Fear
by Theodore Dalrymple
The Eagle and The Bible: Lessons in Liberty from Holy Writ
by Kenneth Hanson
The West Speaks
interviews by Jerry Gordon
Mohammed and Charlemagne Revisited: The History of a Controversy
Emmet Scott
Anything Goes
by Theodore Dalrymple
The Left is Seldom Right
by Norman Berdichevsky
Allah is Dead: Why Islam is Not a Religion
by Rebecca Bynum




















Thursday, 28 May 2015
Is the State Department Taking Seriously Reports of North Korea-Iranian Nuclear Cooperation?
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North Korean Sohae Launch Station November 2012 Source Space.com

North Korean Sohae Missile Launch site, November 2012

Source: Space.com

 

At today’s State Department Daily Press Briefing,  spokesperson Jeff Rathke was asked by Matt Lee, AP White House correspondent about reports by the Paris-based Iranian dissident group, the National Council of Resistance in Iran (NCRI) about alleged North Korean meetings in Iran alleging discussions over nuclear program cooperation an ICBM developments.  Reuters reported the NCRI group allegation that:

Citing information from sources inside Iran, including within Iran's Revolutionary Guards Corps, the Paris-based NCRI said a seven-person North Korean Defense Ministry team was in Iran during the last week of April. This was the third time in 2015 that North Koreans had been to Iran and a nine-person delegation was due to return in June, it said.

"The delegates included nuclear experts, nuclear warhead experts and experts in various elements of ballistic missiles including guidance systems," the NCRI said.

  In response to AP’s Lee question Rathke said, “We are taking these allegations very seriously” citing various UN Security Council Resolutions sanctioning the proliferation behavior of the DPRK. That led Lee and other correspondents to inquire whether this would impact the current P5+1 negotiations in Vienna seeking to conclude a comprehensive Joint Plan of Action by June 30th.  We posted  yesterday that France’s Foreign Minister demanding that Iran agree to  UN IAEA inspectors be  given  full access to military facilities for verification of prior developments.

Watch this C-SPAN video clip on the exchanges between State Department Jeff Rathke and AP’s Lee and other reporters at today’s Press Briefing:

 

 

The Reuters report gave indications of previous unverified reports about such cooperation between the DPRK and Iran:

The NCRI said the North Korean delegation was taken secretly to the Imam Khomenei complex, a site east of Tehran controlled by the Defense Ministry. It gave detailed accounts of locations and who the officials met.

It said the delegation dealt with the Center for Research and Design of New Aerospace Technology, a unit of nuclear weaponization research, and a planning center called the Organization of Defensive Innovation and Research, which is under U.S. sanctions.

Reuters could not independently verify the allegations.

"Tehran has shown no interest in giving up its drive to nuclear weapons. The weaponization program is continuing and they have not slowed down the process," NCRI spokesman Shahin Gobadi said.

U.N. watchdog the IAEA, which for years has investigated alleged nuclear arms research by Tehran, declined to comment. North Korean officials were not available for comment.

Several Western officials said they were not aware of a North Korean delegation traveling to Iran recently.

A Western diplomat said there had been proven military cooperation between Iran and North Korea in the past.

North Korean and Iranian officials meet in the course of general diplomacy. On April 23, Kim Yong Nam, North Korea’s ceremonial head of state and Iran's president held a rare meeting on the sidelines of the Asian-African summit in Jakarta.

My colleague Ilana Freedman and this writer have reported on Iranian and DPRK on both nuclear and ICBM developments and nuclear tests in NER and Iconoclast posts.  In a March 2014, NER, article, “Has Iran Developed Nuclear Weapons in North Korea”, we cited Freedman reporting:

According to my sources, Iran began moving its bomb manufacturing operations from Iran to North Korea in December 2012. Two facilities near Nyongbyon in North Pyongan province, some 50 miles north of Pyongyang, have become a new center for Iran’s nuclear arms program.

Over the last year, Iran has been secretly supplying raw materials to the reactor at Nyongbyon for the production of plutonium. At a second facility, located about fifteen miles north and with a code name that translates to ‘Thunder God Mountain’, nuclear warheads are being assembled and integrated with MIRV platforms. MIRVs are offensive ballistic missile systems that can support multiple warheads, each of which can be aimed at an independent target, but are all launched by a single booster rocket. Approximately 250-300 Iranian scientists are now reported to be in North Korea, along with a small cadre of IRGC personnel to provide for their security.

According to the reports, the Iranian-North Korean collaboration has already produced the first batch of fourteen nuclear warheads. A dedicated fleet of Iranian cargo aircraft, a combination of 747′s and Antonov heavy-lifters, which has been ferrying personnel and materials back and forth between Iran and North Korea, is in place to bring the assembled warheads back to Iran.

In a June 2014, Iconoclast post, “Does Iran/ North Korean Nuclear & ICBM Development Preclude A P5+1 Agreement?” we cited a Wall Street Journal report by  Claudia Rosett, journalist in residence at the Foundation for Defense of Democracies, , Iran Could Outsource Its Nuclear –Weapons Program to North Korea. Rosett commented:

The pieces have long been in place for nuclear collaboration between the two countries. North Korea and Iran are close allies, drawn together by decades of weapons deals and mutual hatred of America and its freedoms. Weapons-hungry Iran has oil; oil-hungry North Korea makes weapons. North Korea has been supplying increasingly sophisticated missiles and missile technology to Iran since the 1980s, when North Korea hosted visits by Hasan Rouhani (now Iran's president) and Ali Khamenei (Iran's supreme leader since the death of Ayatollah Khomeini in 1989).

 

We wrote:

Rosett in the WSJ op ed lays out the case for what the NER article demonstrated was a plausible means of evading sanctions. The evidence for that we noted was North Korean/ Iranian cooperation with Assad’s Syria creating a plutonium reactor on the Euphrates at Al Kibar destroyed by Israel’s Air Force in September 2007. We drew attention to Iranian/ North Korean joint development of large rocket boosters sufficient to loft nuclear MIRV warheads and the likelihood that Iran might have that capability within a few years. In June 2014, The Algemeiner reported an Iranian official announcing that it possessed a 5,000 kilometer (approximately 3,125 miles) range missile that could hit the strategic base of Diego Garcia in the Indian Ocean:

“In the event of a mistake on the part of the United States, their bases in Bahrain and (Diego) Garcia will not be safe from Iranian missiles,” said an Iranian Revolutionary Guard adviser to Iranian leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, Majatba Dhualnuri.

In an April 15, 2015, Iconoclast post, “Obama Administration Knew of Illegal North Korea Missile Technology Transfers to Iran During Talks” we reported:

Bill Gertz has a blockbuster expose in today’s Washington Free Beacon of something we have been hammering away for years: the technology transfer of missile and nuclear technology between North Korea and the Iran, “North Korea Transfers Missile Goods to Iran During Nuclear Talks.”  The stunning disclosure was that US intelligence has known about the illegal transfer in violation of UN arms sanctions, as apparently did the Obama Administration.   You recall the statement that Undersecretary of State Wendy Sherman made before a Senate hearing in early 2014. Sherman said, “that if Iran can’t get the bomb then its ballistic missiles would be irrelevant.”

Gertz went on to report:

Since September more than two shipments of missile parts have been monitored by U.S. intelligence agencies as they transited from North Korea to Iran, said officials familiar with intelligence reports who spoke on condition of anonymity.

Details of the arms shipments were included in President Obama’s daily intelligence briefings and officials suggested information about the transfers was kept secret from the United Nations, which is in charge of monitoring sanctions violations.

While the CIA declined to comment on these allegations claiming classified information, others, Gertz queried said that “such transfers were covered by the Missile Technology Control Regime, a voluntary agreement among 34 nations that limits transfers of missiles and components of systems with ranges of greater than 186 miles.”

One official said the transfers between North Korea and Iran included large diameter engines, which could be used for a future Iranian long-range missile system.

The compilation of these reports and today's exchange at the State Department Press Briefing clearly raises the ante as to why in one reporter’s query, ‘our negotiators” haven’t simply asked  Foreign Minister Zarif in Vienna  is there such cooperation going on, backed up by the intelligence reports cited by Gertz and others?  Our suspicion is that French Foreign Minister Fabius has better feed on Iranian nuclear and ICBM developments than our CIA.  Or more likely is the Obama West Wing suggesting not to believe those lying reports in the President's  Daily Intelligence Briefing? After all, President Obama, Secretary Kerry and Undersecretary of State for Political Affairs Wendy Sherman want nothing to stand in the way of an agreement with Iran, even it means evading the truth.   Stay tuned for developments.

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Posted on 05/28/2015 10:07 PM by Jerry Gordon
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Thursday, 28 May 2015
March Of Lycee Students In Support Of Freedom Of Expression
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A student in a lycee wrote, last January, in support of Charlie-Hebdo. For his pains he received seven death threats from Muslims, some of those missives apparently containing -- ah! le bon billet de Castres! had nothing in common with them  -- bullets by way of additional Muslim menace. Now there's been a rally, in support of this student who now must study at home, by fellow lyceens.

Story here.

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Posted on 05/28/2015 11:10 PM by Hugh Fitzgerald
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Thursday, 28 May 2015
A Musical Interlude: My Sin (Belle Baker)
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Listen here.
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Posted on 05/28/2015 8:12 PM by Hugh Fitzgerald
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Thursday, 28 May 2015
Israel’s Gas Pains Relieved: Dr. Gilo Resigns.
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Great business news from Israel this week.  Israel has become a veritable cyber ware super power.  According to Ha’aretz, sales of computer and network security technology reached more than $6 billion in 2014, accounting for 10% of the global $60 billion market place.  The other great news was the resignation on Monday, May 25th of Dr. David Gilo, head of the independent Israel Antitrust Authority.  In his statement Gilo said:

My decision is a result of a number of considerations, most importantly the report that the cabinet, particularly the Prime Minister's Office, the Ministry of Finance, and the Ministry of National Infrastructure, Energy, and Water Resources, will do everything they can to push forward the currently emerging structure in the natural gas sector. I am convinced that such a structure will not lead to competition in this important market, and could possibly detract from the independence of the Antitrust Authority, a matter of public importance, and harm its ability to carry out unilateral measures

 He had single handedly  brought to a halt the development of Israel’s important off shore gas fields by the Israel-US partnership, Delek Group Ltd. (TASE: DLEKG) and Houston based  Noble Energy , Inc. (NBL-NYSE) . The partnership had put up $6 billion in risk capital to develop the country’s offshore gas fields, achieving energy security, creating a potential wealth producing export market.   Gilo stopped development of the giant Leviathan field in December 2014 when he reneged on a compromise deal reached earlier last year involving selling two existing smaller fields developed by the partners offshore in the country’s Exclusive Economic Zone (EEZ).      While he resigned on Monday, May 25th, he won’t be departing until the end of August, 2015.  Allegedly that would give him time to clean up his other consumerist initiatives.  However, many believe based on his statement his real agenda was to take pot shots at the compromise plan being floated by the Ministries of Finance, Energy and Infrastructure, backed by Prime Minister Netanyahu for good and sound national security reasons.   A legal opinion from the State’s attorney General provided authority for the government to develop and conclude the proposed agreement with the development partners.    According to Globes, Israel Business, the compromise plan:

Requires Delek Group, Ltd.  to sell all of its holdings in the Tamar natural gas reservoir within six years. Noble Energy, Delek Group's partner will be required to reduce its holdings in Tamar from 36% to 25%, and will be barred from marketing gas from the Leviathan reservoir to Israel. At the same time, the agreement leaves Noble Energy with control of both reservoirs as the company operating them.

As we have written in both NER articles and Iconoclast posts Gilo was seeking to do the impossible. To create competition by forcing the sale of one of the two major fields, the Tamar, hoping to induce foreign competitors to make investments for the completion of the giant Leviathan gas field and thereby lowering energy prices through competition.   Problem with that misguided view was there were few if any takers. Further, it put into jeopardy signed agreements for delivery of gas from the existing Tamar field with the Palestinian Authority, Egypt and Jordan.  Moreover the government killed a potential minority investment by Australian energy development firm, Woodside, PTY for development of LNG from the Leviathan field and delivery to the Asian market.  As a result, Nobel is presently working with the Republic of Cyprus to develop an LNG processing and distribution complex to link up with the Republic’s Aphrodite offshore gas field adjacent to that of Israel’s Leviathan. 

In the run up to the March 17th, Knesset elections, it was apparent that Gilo was grandstanding perhaps hoping that the Zionist Union opposition might win. If that occurred he could pursue his consent decree proposal accusing the partners of being a monopoly in violation of Israeli basic law. Instead, Gilo and entourage took off for a junket to Holland to see how the Netherlands handled their off shore gas fields development.

It quickly became apparent that the Netanyahu government was not going to abide by this high handed patently political move by Gilo.  At stake is more than $76 billion in potential tax revenues that might be used to offset burdensome national and other social program expenditures .  

Prior to Gilo’s resignation, the Netanyahu government  reached out to Professor Eitan Sheshinski at Hebrew University who had developed the original tax plan in 2010 to produce revenues from oil and gas developments both onshore and offshore. Sheshinski was appointed as adviser to Energy Minister Yuval Steinitz, who he had worked with in the development of the original tax plan.  He suggested in a Globes Israel Business interview that liquidation of the Tamar field ownership would not lower prices.  Additionally he said that Gilo’s original intent of controlling prices was unproductive.  Sheshinski was cited by Globes saying:

All in all, today's price is reasonable by the standards of Europe, and certainly at the level of the Far East.  The price of gas in Europe is $8-10 per energy unit, and is about $15 in the Far East. Delek Drilling Limited Partnership (TASE: DEDR.L) and Avner Oil and Gas LP (TASE: AVNR.L) today reported that the average gas price in Israel in the first quarter of 2015 was $5.45 per energy unit.

Sheshinski also asserted that controls over natural gas prices might do more harm than good. "Controls give a lot of authority to a bureaucratic system, and experience does not justify optimism," he said, adding, "I don't see how the regulator in Israel can adapt himself to the many changes occurring worldwide in gas prices. You have to keep this as far as possible from the bureaucratic and political system."

Globes noted the Finance Ministry’s compromise proposal for ‘soft pricing’:

The state proposed that the price of gas in future contracts be a weighted average of gas prices in the contracts that have already been signed in Israel.

Sheshinski’s  assessment of the Gilo’s objective , liquidating the monopoly, that a duopoly would enhance price competition was wrongheaded:

Both global experience and economic theory explicitly state that anyone who thinks that a duopoly will cause perfect competition is wrong. In this matter, you also can rely on our experience in Israel. In a duopoly, the controlling shareholders have a common interest… some claim that a duopoly's prices are even worse than those of a monopoly.

He went on to address the current international markets impacted by a spike in US oil and gas fracking production:

In my opinion, the goal is to ensure that gas prices in Israel are not different from those prevailing in similar countries around the world. A revolution is now taking place in global energy prices. The US is becoming the world's biggest oil producer, and both oil and gas prices are on a downtrend. In my opinion, this trend will continue, and our goal should be not to pay more than the reasonable prices of countries in a similar situation with respect to gas reservoirs.

Another expert who happened to be in Eilat,  Israel  at an international conference  this week was a law partner from the Washington, DC firm of Greenberg Traurig, Global Energy & Infrastructure Practice co-chairman, Kenneth Minesinger,  “legal advisor of the Alaska state government in its negotiations with the oil and gas companies.”   Minesinger had these comments in a Globes interview:

I've been advising the Alaskan government how to negotiate with the gas companies for decades. Like in Israel, two major reservoirs were discovered in Alaska: Prudhoe Bay and Point Thomson. The population there is small, and the gas industry is controlled by three companies.

Both Alaska and Israel are now trying to find out how to negotiate with the gas companies in a way that will safeguard the interests of the state and its residents, together with the gas companies' interests.

I think that it's necessary to act quickly in order to ensure development of the Leviathan reservoir, but hasty action motivated by panic isn't the right way. What's involved is an agreement that will ensure Israel hundreds of billions of shekels in revenue over the years, and serious consideration and the necessary time must therefore be devoted to this matter. In contrast to Alaska, the development project for the Leviathan reservoir is simple, but it is still difficult for an inexperienced country like Israel.

Minesinger pointed out that long term contracts must include development of a network   of adequately sized pipelines connecting fields that are developed.  Further, he suggested that pricing in such agreements should be formulaic and not based on a fixed single point basis. To overcome suspicions that developing companies might earn excessive profits Minesinger suggested distribution of profit sharing checks to Israel’s citizens akin to what Alaska presently does. He has also proposed to Alaska possible consideration of a state owned gas company.

The final comment on this week’s developments in the wake of the resignation of IAA head, Gilo, came in a Globes op ed from Norman Bailey, former Reagan national security aide and Haifa University policy expert, citing lessons learned:

The resignation of Prof. Gilo as head of the Antitrust Authority is undoubtedly good news. His reneging last December on the agreement he had made with the natural gas companies Noble, Delek and Ratio the preceding March had thrown the whole development of Israel’s offshore natural gas resources into confusion. The matter had already been badly handled by the government, which had driven out the Australian company Woodside, and Gilo’s retraction had put at risk the economic, financial and geo-political benefits of the gas discoveries. The government, after an unacceptable earlier draft, finally crafted a new, acceptable proposal over Gilo’s objections, which prompted his resignation. The lessons to be learned here are twofold: regulation is necessary but should not dominate at the expense of other relevant considerations; and agreements made should be honored, unless circumstances change fundamentally, which was not the case. Israel as a magnet for investment has been preserved.

We await announcement of an acceptable compromise plan to the parties involved to end this episode once again illustrating that  rule of law must reflect economic market realities.

 

 

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Posted on 05/28/2015 7:48 PM by Jerry Gordon
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Thursday, 28 May 2015
The Dalai Lama, A Long-Time Apologist For Islam, Can't Understand Aung San Suu Kyi
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The Dalai Lama has a history of one-way dialogues with Muslims, in which he keeps saying the same thing: don't judge Muslims by a violent and unrepresentative (how does he know they are "unrepresentative"? what does he know about the texts, tenets, attitudes, atmospherics of Islam?) minority, and so on.

And over the past two years, qua Buddhist, and just yesterday,  he has presumed to preach to Aung San Suu Kyi about the so-called "Rohingyas" (the Muslim Bengalis who, beginning in the period of British Burma and British India, drifted into Burma) and to "deplore" -- how happy the New York Times must have been to report this -- what he, and of course all right-thinking people, find to be her strange silence. But her silence is not strange, but admirable. She has said to the Dalai Lama, he complains, that things "are not so simple," that they are "more complicated" than he thinks.

Indeed.

What everyone is missing is that Aung San Suu Kyi is a very intelligent, strong-willed lady. And she will not be stampeded into what the herd demands of her -- that she "denounce the Burmese monks" for their "mistreatment of the Rohingyas." Her late husband, Dr. Michael Aris,  taught at Oxford. He was a friend and colleague of the Professor of Sanskrit at Oxford, Ernst Gombrich's son Richard. And Richard Gombrich's son was also a friend of the late David McCutchion, whose field of special study were the temples and art of Bengal. And it was David McCutchion who saw what Muslims had done to Buddhists and Buddhist monuments, temples, stelae, statuary, in Bengal; it was David McCutchion who expressed the wish that Pakistan had never existed. 

Aung San Suu Kyi doesn't need any lessons either from the Dali Lama, or from the editors of The New York Times, about Burma and the "Rohingyas." She knows something about them. And that distinguishes her from the undifferentiated mass or herd that is supposed to speak for the "international community" (as in "the international community deplores the behavior of the Burmese government toward the Rohingyas.")

She may ultimately succumb to such pressure but for now, she is standing firm, secure in her superior knowledge. She is, for this withstanding, to be admired and praised and, whenever possible, emulated.  

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Posted on 05/28/2015 7:21 PM by Hugh Fitzgerald
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Thursday, 28 May 2015
Burma's Unique Culture: Papermaking With Bamboo
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The "Rohingyas" -- that's the name the Muslims from Bengal (that is, both West Bengal, and Bangladesh), who had a lot to do with first installing Bengalis in northern Burma, and then, after the British left, they continued to drift in  -- are not part of this distinctive Burmese culture. They bring with them, they cling to as their sole identity, they defend and wish to promote, if they can, Islam. Burma, Burmese culture, so wedded to Buddhism, means nothing to them and they have no interest in the monuments or artifacts of Burmese culture.

The surprisingly informative Wikipedia entry on the "Rohingyas" quotes scholars such as Professor Andrew Selth, who support the Burmese contention that these people are self-named Bengali Muslims:

"Jacques P. Leider states that in precolonial sources, the term Rohingya, in the form of Rooinga appears only once in a text written by Francis Buchanan-Hamilton.[29] In his 1799 article “A Comparative Vocabulary of Some of the Languages Spoken in the Burma Empire,” Hamilton stated: "I shall now add three dialects, spoken in the Burma Empire, but evidently derived from the language of the Hindu nation. The first is that spoken by the Mohammedans, who have long settled in Arakan, and who call themselves Rooinga, or natives of Arakan."[30]

After riots in 2012, academic authors used the term Rohingya to refer to the Muslim community in northern Rakhine. Professor Andrew Selth of Griffith University for example, uses "Rohingya" but states "These are Bengali Muslims who live in Arakan State...most Rohingyas arrived with the British colonialists in the 19th and 20th centuries."[15][17] Among the overseas Rohingya community, the term has been gaining popularity since the 1990s, though a considerable portion of Muslims in northern Rakhine are unfamiliar with the term and prefer to use alternatives.[16][29]

 

Now about that Burmese culture that the monks, frightened at the spectacle of what the demographic explosion of Muslims wherever they have been let in has meant for the indigenous non-Muslims, are so concerned to protect -- for there is only one Burma -- here's something that I just ran across, for example, at a website about paper-making: 

"Also on display is this paper made painstakingly from bamboo fiber with incredibly long preparation times. The paper is so specialized that the common person will never see this paper or know of its existence.

The wall text provided describes this incredible process:

This special bamboo paper is made for the process of beating bold into gold leaf. In Burma, the thin strips of gold are beaten by hand until they become so thin that the gold becomes translucent. The fold is beaten on a very strong substrate, which is the bamboo paper. A sandwich of paper, gold, paper, gold, etc. is made covered in deer skin, and then pounded with a 9 pound hammer for hours.

The lengthy and curious process of making the bamboo paper begins with retting the bamboo strips in lime for 3-6 years! Next it is boiled for 24 hours! Then it is beaten for 15 days! After a few more steps, the paper is finally made and it takes 20 minutes to make one sheet. The sheet is next cut into small squares, and then burnished with pointed sticks on a convex metal plate until the paper becomes translucent. This steps takes place underground. Finally the paper is sent to the goldbeating house where a thin piece of gold is placed on each sheet until a packet is made of about 600 sheets of paper interleaved with gold. Next it is beaten into gold leaf.

The only people that ever see this truly incredible paper are the people that work in the goldbeating house!

Should the Burmese be expected to accept this business of the "Rohingya people" -- so akin to that of the "Palestinian people" in its propagandistic value and essential emptiness -- in order to satisfy the likes of the Malaysian writer Thaw An, who may be of Chinese descent (he studied in Taiwan)  but has become, in this matter, more Malaysian than the Malays -- or is he simply a Muslim Malay, determined to ignore the rights and claims of the indigenous people of Burma?

 

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Posted on 05/28/2015 11:43 AM by Hugh Fitzgerald
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Thursday, 28 May 2015
British girls will likely 'die in Iraq or Syria'
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A senior female commander from Islamic State has told Sky News she has no doubt that three London teenagers who crossed into Syria in February were groomed by a team of social media experts in Raqqa.

The woman, who calls herself Um Asmah and who defected from IS just days ago, was the first person to contact foreign girls crossing the border. Her job was to introduce the new recruits to life under Islamic State's strict and brutal regime.

In her first interview, she says she was surprised by how young and naive Shamima Begum, Kadiza Sultana and Amira Abase were.

The 22-year-old says it was clear that while the girls were happy, they were unprepared for living life permanently veiled. One of the girls revealed her face to a driver and was immediately reprimanded and lectured on etiquette.

Um Asmah, whose relatives are senior IS commanders, says she delivered the girls to a base in Raqqa where they are now undergoing a four-month training regime for "special missions". Foreign fighters are taught to fight and oversee missions in Syria and Iraq - but with a specific plan, now revealed for the first time, to travel back to Europe and carry out attacks there.

Speaking in a secret location in Turkey, she says it is possible fighters are already being trained in Europe, but she confirmed most of the training was in Syria.

She says she is unsure where the girls are now, but doubts they have been married off to IS fighters "unless they wanted to". Asked if the girls will be allowed to return home, she said they will "never" go home and are more likely to "die in Iraq or Syria".

Sky News has obtained exclusive pictures inside the headquarters of the IS propaganda and grooming machine - an internet cafe where IS foreign fighters work shifts coordinated to timezones around the world where they have influence over specific nationalities.

Um Asmah says IS has a well-structured grooming system that can psychologically target vulnerable youngsters like the three British girls. "IS have the ability to manipulate the minds of young people. If they can convince foreigners, it is even easier to convince Arabs and Syrians.They have freedom and everything is available - they have no need to come to Syria but they do."

The woman says the girls are special to IS, but are not stars as they have plenty more girls from around the world - with more joining every month.

The fate of the three London girls has already been decided by the terror group, she says: "Everything is already decided for you and you cannot evade it or refuse it. You cannot have a mind of your own, you have to follow their orders."

 

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Posted on 05/28/2015 9:43 AM by Esmerelda Weatherwax
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Thursday, 28 May 2015
In Yemen, The State Department Did What It Should To Prevent Visa Fraud
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Here is an article by Tim Arango in The New York Times, on the supposed anguish of "Yemeni-Americans" who have had difficulties with holding onto their passports, or using them for travelling back and forth to Yemen, because of what is claimed to be, apparently, unwarranted mistrust by consular officials.

But the mistrust is not unwarranted. The article itself refers to the long and wide history of fraud in the obtaining of visas by people -- sous-entendu Muslims -- in the Middle East. . The article might have gone into details about the size of the fraud -- the false names given, sometimes in order to establish a phony family connection (the phony family reunification business, especially with Somalis, has been exposed through DNA testing but little done to send back the fake family members who managed to get themselves admitted), sometimes to hide a connection   to groups or movements that American officials rightly worry about, sometimes to be able to get a passport in a false name that will be even easier, at a later date, to pass on, for money, to another person, by using the equivalent of "John Smith," which, given the handful of Muslim names, is not hard.

Note the photograph of Mohamed's sweet-faced grandchildren, playing -- what possible harm could come from them, or from their done-wrong-by grandpa -- those little girls whose inner Islam has not yet taken effect and transformed them into potential dangers to the people and the government of the United States, for the ideology of Islam and its effect on the minds of its adherents does not come out in such photographs, and besides, they are still children, and people -- grandpas, grandchildren -- are the same the whole world over.

And do not fail to note the last sentence, the one where "Mohamed" ringingly declares, as Tariq Ramadan does, as so many Muslims do, with an air of triumphant fanality, that "we are here, we are a mountain, we are part of the American landscape, we cannot be moved." How do you feel when you read that last sentence?

Oh, and one more thing. "Mohamed" claims he was "coerced" into "acknowledging" the fraud on his original visa application.  But the article nowhere says, and "Mohamed" nowhere claims, that he did not, in fact, lie on his original visa application. In other words, he did lie, and the whole story is about someone who doesn't like the fact that the American government caused him to acknowledge that fraud.

That indignation at being forced to own up to his fraud, the State Department's recognition that the whole visa and greencard problem, not only in Yemen, but in all the Muslim lands, is rife with fraud (and this is true for all Western governments), the way in which his tale is told to evoke sympathy but should leave the intelligent reader cold, that Ramzi Kassem, the American Muslim eager to exploit the American legal system (so different from what the adherents of Shari'a admire), and who flings about a phrase -- "extrajudicial punishment" -- which is ordinarily used for executions -- grotesquely appling  it to the attempt by American officials to enforce  the government's immigration laws and regulations, the employment of the word "Asian" to hide the fact that it is not "Asians" but "Muslims" who are the object of such great solicitousness on the part of some organizations pretending to have other interests, and  the frightening  triumphalism of the Yemeni, who managed to obtain his American citizenship through means that the American government says broke the law -- "In this country now,” he said, “we’re like a mountain that’s part of the landscape, and there’s no way anyone can uproot us.”" --  these are what the reader will find, unless he is prepared to drop a ready tear on behalf of all of these complaining Yemenis, or "Yemeni-Americans," stay in the mind.

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Posted on 05/28/2015 5:02 AM by Hugh Fitzgerald
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Wednesday, 27 May 2015
Egyptian Cleric: We Must Make War On The Shiites
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Posted on 05/27/2015 7:53 PM by Hugh Fitzgerald
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Wednesday, 27 May 2015
The Legacy of Arab-Islam in Africa - Author Interview
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An interview with John Alembillah Azumah, the author of "The Legacy of Arab-Islam in Africa".

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Posted on 05/27/2015 6:23 PM by Geoffrey Clarfield
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Wednesday, 27 May 2015
Amna Muna: Eager To "Liberate, Inshallah, All Of Palestine"
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Not-quite-chic and not-quite soigne in the Western manner, but in Turkey trying her Muslim Arab best, Amina Muna is proud of all she's done and, inshallah, that she's going to do.

Here.

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Posted on 05/27/2015 5:12 PM by Hugh Fitzgerald
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Wednesday, 27 May 2015
The Farhud In Baghdad, June 1-2, 1941
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The story of the Baghdad mass-killingsof Jews is told here.

The story of how Jewish volunteers, including David Raziel, Jabotinsky's likely successor, came to Iraq and took on the most dangerous missions the British could give them, and managed to prevent the oilfields from falling into enemy hands -- Raziel was killed in the mission -- still needs to be told, as do many other such acts by Jewish volunteers, all over the Middle East, to whom the British entrusted such tasks but, after the war, never mentioned what had been done, and by whom.

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Posted on 05/27/2015 3:11 PM by Hugh Fitzgerald
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Wednesday, 27 May 2015
Foreign aid scandal: UK money is 'STILL going to convicted Palestinian terrorists'
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The Palestinian Authority (PA) has taken around £130million in foreign aid from the Department for International Development over the past five years.

The public cash is being used to help it fund its estimated £84million annual wage bill for convicted terrorists locked up in Israel, according to campaigners.
 
Palestinian Media Watch (PMW) claims that Britain may have been “intentionally misled” by the PA which last year claimed to have stopped the controversial payments but was later discovered to be channelling the cash through another political group.

MPs today called for the Government to suspend all aid to the PA until payments to convicted terrorists cease.

In a joint statement, Tory MPs Guto Bebb, James Morris and Andrew Percy said: “British taxpayers will be appalled to discover that the Palestinian Authority is handing their hard-earned money to convicted Palestinian terrorists.

“The PA should be strongly condemned for deceiving well-intentioned donor countries into thinking that it had ended this shocking practice.

From The Express:

"The British Government must seriously reconsider its provision of aid to the PA’s general budget until it ceases this abhorrent practice of financially rewarding and incentivising terrorism.”

The PA's practice of paying huge salaries to jailed terrorists was exposed by PMW in 2011.

The money is reserved for those “resisting the occupation” of lands Palestinians regard as theirs but which are part of the Israeli state.

Around 5,500 Palestinian terrorists could be drawing salaries and bonuses.

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Posted on 05/27/2015 2:13 PM by Geoffrey Clarfield
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Wednesday, 27 May 2015
Mayor Fiorello LaGuardia Reads Dick Tracy
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There was a newspaper strike. The children of New York City were deprived of the funny papers. Mayor LaGuardia came to their radio rescue.

Here.

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Posted on 05/27/2015 1:20 PM by Hugh Fitzgerald
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Wednesday, 27 May 2015
An Analysis of Media Narratives on Present Circumstances in Gaza
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Robert Shortt, Gaza, Prime Time, May 7, 2015 (RTE Screen-grab).

Ireland’s principle broadcasting institution, RTE, ran a series of news reports by journalist Robert Shortt, which are concerned with the current troubles that the people of Gaza face, in the aftermath of ‘Operation Protective Edge’, last year’s war between Israel and several terrorist groups based in Gaza.


Shortt’s reportage echoes many of the recent accounts of the situation in Gaza found in the mainstream media. His reports form the basis of this article’s broader thematic rebuttal of current media coverage.

The most substantive report, ‘Inside Gaza’, was broadcast on ‘Prime Time’, RTE’s premium current affairs programme, on May 7th 2015 (RTE incorrectly posts the date as May 8th). The segment begins at 9:57 in RTE’s Internet Player.

An article, titled ‘RTE’s Gaza news coverage sponsored by Irish Aid’s pro-Palestinian proxy’ details possible breaches of broadcasting code in Shortt’s reports.
 
The report is introduced by David McCullagh, who accepted United Nations “estimates” of the civilian death toll, without mention of their true source — Hamas, which often used distorted figures for propaganda in the past.
“Last year Hamas and Israel fought a 50 day war in the Gaza strip. It was the third conflict in six years and the deadliest. The UN estimates that on the Israeli side 67 soldiers and four civilians were killed. On the Palestinian side, over 2,200 people were killed, including over 1,500 civilians, of whom 551 were children. Now many are warning that tensions are rising once again.”
Zaitoun Elementary School, 'New Crisis in Gaza', RTE News, May 9, 2015 (Screen-grab)
 
On the UN report: ‘attacking’ schools?

Shortt’s 11 and a half minute report highlights the suffering of children during and after the 2014 conflict. For example, he stated:
“Last July, Mara, her ten siblings, father, and mother, then heavily pregnant, fled the bombing of their home to find shelter in this UN school. Over a thousand people are still crammed into the classrooms of Zeitoun Elementary. Seven such centres were attacked by Israeli forces during the war causing 44 deaths, and 227 injuries.”
Shortt’s claim relates to the damage of seven schools studied in a UN Board of Inquiry report — its summary findings were issued on the 27th April. Shortt’s claim that Israel “attacked” seven UN schools is not credible. The report notes that one school (appertaining to ‘Incident (g)’ in the study) was not being used as a shelter, and the road outside another school (‘Incident (f)’) was struck, rather than the school itself. Moreover, the word ‘attack’ suggests an overt intentional wish to strike these UN civilian installations, which the UN report, although prejudicial in its own right, does not itself ascribe to Israeli actions.

Despite the specificity of the report, Shortt failed to properly identify the school in question. It may be an ‘United Nations Relief and Works Agency for Palestine Refugees in the Near East’ (UNRWA) school in Zeitoun (also spelt Zaitoun), called the ‘Shahada Al-Manar Elementary’, a site from which Hamas was identified to have fired weaponry, or ‘Zeitoun Preparatory Girls “B” School’. The UN report blames the IDF for a stray “projectile” striking the roof of the latter school, whilst stating that “militant activity was also noted” (Point D, 35) some hours earlier in the area, and that no IDF activity can be explicitly tied to the single strike. Therefore, to describe the school as having been “attacked” is misleading.

Shortt’s subsequent news report, discussed below, appears to reference the same building visually, but a sign identifies it as “Zaitoun Elementary Boys “B” School”, which was not one of the schools featured in the UN report, albeit related to the girls school of the same name. Shortt further remarks:
“Last week the UN dismissed Israeli claims that Hamas rockets were found in schools used as shelters but it admitted rockets were found in empty schools.”
Israel did not claim rockets had been found in schools actively used as shelters. Broad Israeli claims related to the use of active school shelters by terrorist groups, to launch attacks. Such claims were latterly disputed by witness testimony in the report but the conditions of the testimony can be deemed problematic with some justification, given potential conflicts of interest with the parties collecting it. Moreover, the word ‘dismissal’ is an undue and misleading description of the UN report’s findings. The UN report looked specifically at a small number of instances, namely those that involved UNRWA property (see Point 5 of the report), rather than provide an actual overview of the conflict:
“In its report, the Board noted that it was not within its terms of reference to address the wider aspects of the conflict in Gaza, its causes or the situation affecting the civilian populations of Gaza and Israel in the period before “Operation Protective Edge” was launched. Its task was limited to considering the ten incidents identified in its terms of reference.”
Furthermore it should be noted that inactive schools were not merely acknowledged to have been used for the storage of weaponry. Two of the three referenced sites were also used to fire against the IDF. Shortt’s report focuses on the area of Jabalia. The UN report notes an interesting event in relation to one of the area's local schools: it “was highly likely that an unidentified Palestinian armed group could have used the school premises to launch attacks on or around 14 July” (point 70) but Shortt does not appear to deem it necessary to mention such mitigating circumstance.

Shortt makes similarly misleading claims in an article on RTE’s site, which comes across as an apologia for the use of schools:
“Israel claims Hamas used school shelters to store rockets. But a report last week from the UN found the schools where rockets were located were empty and not the shelters where hundreds gathered only to come under attack once more.”
The UN report noted that the three schools in question were at summer recess so it is possible they could have been used if the war began at a slightly earlier date. They are designated civilian structures, so it is still a highly problematic matter to use them in war. Shortt et al. wish to dismiss the import of such unprecedented findings but they represent just a surface glimpse of long-established behaviour, e.g. from 2009:
‘United Nations Humanitarian Affairs Chief John Holmes told the UN Security Council, “The reckless and cynical use of civilian installations by Hamas and indiscriminate firing of rockets against civilian populations are clear violations of international humanitarian law.”’
The UN report’s findings add further credence to the long-expressed view that terror groups use human shields in civilian areas. The report only addressed three structures. An increasing number of international journalists have acknowledged that Hamas use human shields, while Ghazi Hamad, a representative of Hamas, grudgingly admitted they fired from civilian areas during the war, while civilians would have been resident.

It is time for the likes of Shortt, et al, to stop making excuses, whilst subtly inferring that Israel targets civilians intentionally, as per his claim (quoted above) that civilians were twice attacked by Israel.
 
Gaza’s embargo

The report mentions the failure of promised donations to materialise, but fundamentally blames the present problems on the blockade, with Siobhan Powell, of (UNRWA) echoing the notion. Shortt says:
“Israel imposed a blockade on Gaza after a violent split between Palestinians in 2007. Hamas has ruled Gaza since.”
It is not wholly accurate to describe Israel’s action as a ‘blockade’, other than with respect to its maritime activity, which cut off access to the sea beyond a six nautical mile zone, due to efforts to smuggle weaponry into Gaza. A blockade tends to be defined as “The isolation of a nation, area, city, or harbor by hostile ships or forces in order to prevent the entrance and exit of traffic and commerce.” UNRWA however notes that “Israel allows most goods into the Gaza Strip except for items it defines as “dual-use” materials which could have a military purpose.”

Israel allows some Gazan produce to be exported internationally, through its borders, and has assisted farmers in recent years with a variety of projects. Export levels remain small but have shown signs of increasing in the aftermath of the 2014 war, a situation that looks set to continue by addressing security issues.

Israel’s actions over land would be more correctly defined as a partial type of ‘embargo’, a forceful diplomatic measure adopted by some nations to limit its interaction with a given territory. Israel and the Palestinian Authority signed the Agreement on Movement & Access, allowing for free access of people and goods into Israel. However, after the 2006 elections, Hamas refused to recognise Israel’s right to exist or to curtail its violence, which led to the EU and the Quartet suspending assistance arrangements in Gaza. Hamas would then enter into a state of revolt by violently throwing off the legal structures of the Palestinian Authority in 2007, the interim arrangement toward forging of a new Arab state, with it concomitant security arrangements.

With Hamas instigating further belligerent acts, a maritime blockade was formally announced in June 2008
“In accordance with the agreements between Israel and the Palestinian Authority, entry by foreign vessels to this zone is prohibited. Israeli Notice 6/2008”
The embargo and naval blockade grew out of a worsening scenario with a belligerent seizing absolute control in a coup. As such it was and continues to be a justified measure, as the Palmer Report accepts.

 
Shortt on steel and cement
 
The limited reconstruction of Gaza should be blamed on Hamas and the international community for not ensuring that construction materials are utilised for their intended purpose. Shortt thinks differently:
“Rebuilding after a war is a huge task. Rebuilding after three wars in six years is a monumental task. Add to that a blockade and a temporary cease-fire, and it’s leading to frustration and a simmering sense of anger, which is stretching hope of return to any sort of a normal life here in Gaza to its limits.”
The destruction to some neighbourhoods nearer the Gaza border with Israel is considerable. The zones of conflict were limited however, so it is somewhat misleading to present all of Gaza as being in a near-complete state of destruction, and to present the entire enclave as being in need of reconstruction thrice-over, when there were substantive efforts to rebuild previously. In 2010 Israel significantly eased the embargo, allowing Gaza’s infrastructure to be improved, yielding results that were at times unexpected, given common perceptions of quality of life in the Strip. In 2013 Israel further eased restrictions on construction materials, until these materials were repeatedly found to have been exploited by Hamas for building terror-tunnels into Israel itself.

Shortt then presents, as an unsubstantiated claim, the notion that Hamas is using building materials to construct new tunnels to conduct assaults, when it is in fact rather more than just a mere accusation:
“Israel accuses it [Hamas] of continuing to use cement and steel to rebuild tunnels to launch attacks into its territory.”
The programme segment then leads to an apologia from a representative of Hamas. Dr. Hamad Ghazy, Hamas’ Deputy Foreign Minister, who, after indirectly justifying such acts as a defence, stated:
“We want to take precautions to prevent any possible aggression against our people, but ah we gave promises that all the building materials that come to Gaza go to people who need it. Hamas will not interfere.”
Despite the contradictory message, purposefully aimed at Western audiences, Hamas’ leaders have loudly pledged Hamas’ wish to build new tunnels, and rearm. Recent reports attest to an unpleasant reality that Hamas is intensifying its tunnel-building efforts, with the use of greater mechanisation.

Dual-use cement imports had been curtailed, due to its military usage. However, tens of thousands of tons of other building materials had been transported into the Gaza Strip since the end of the 2014 war, and Israel has in another respect liberalised the import of cement. UNRWA itself notes:
“Construction materials defined as dual-use are only permitted to enter for approved projects by international organizations and, since mid-October 2014, under the Gaza Reconstruction Mechanism (GRM), an agreement between the governments of Israel and Palestine, for private sector use. The GRM, to which UNRWA is not a party, allows for private sector imports, and hence for shelter self-help for large scale reconstruction which was not possible prior to the establishment of the GRM”
The Jewish State had restricted the import of cement due to Hamas’ efforts to obtain such materials, often via the black market, but has since lifted its restrictions.

In another news report, entitled ‘New Crisis in Gaza’, broadcast on the RTE’s 6.1 (6 o’clock) and 9 PM news programmes, and otherwise repeated cyclically on the broadcaster’s ‘News Now’ channel, Robert Shortt states:
“In Gaza they call concrete ‘grey gold’. Building materials are in such short supply that people are literally taking sledge hammers to the remnants of buildings here, to extract the steel rods and break down the concrete rubble, in order to use it again.”
Similarly, Shortt wrote:
“The dull thud of sledgehammers can be heard as people break up collapsed concrete floors. Donkeys pull carts piled with twisted steel rods literally torn from the wreckage. Such is the shortage of building materials, Gazans are recycling everything they can use.”
 
Cement factory representative, 'New Crisis in Gaza', RTE News, May 9, 2015 (Screen-grab)

Shortt presents this story as if individual Arab-Palestinians are remoulding rubble with their bare hands. However, there is in fact an established localised industry recycling steel bars and concrete. Shortt indeed does mention a “concrete factory was destroyed during the war and rebuilt at a cost of four million Euro” but does not tie the point to the recycling of concrete.

To quote one pro-Palestinian source critical of Israel:
“Abu Ali Daloul is one of the main traders of recycled iron bars in Gaza. He bought tons of the iron bars removed from the rubble of the recent war. He fixes the bars and prepares them to be used again for construction purposes.

The concrete rubble are transported to stone breaking workshops in order to be turned into pebbles for use on road paving projects. Abu Lebda is a stone breading [sic] workshop which recycles concrete rubble and provides brick manufacturers with pebbles to make bricks with

Malaka concrete bricks factory brings the pebbles from Abu Lebda’s stone breaking workshop and puts the amounts in its stores hoping the cement to pass through the crossings to be able to produce bricks suffecient to rebuild Gaza.”
Moreover, the recycling of steel and concrete building materials has become commonplace the world over, for environmental reasons. Shortt, however, would sooner have the viewer believe that this is a remarkable, near-unprecedented phenomenon!

An anti-Israel NGO, called Gisha, reported in January that quite substantive amounts of concrete had entered Gaza since the end of Operation Protective Edge, but very little has been used to rebuild Gazan homes, despite the fact that Gaza’s residents are entitled to free building materials if their homes are damaged. The materials were in fact sold to Hamas, and requisitioned by Hamas.

 
Dr. Mona el-Farra

In the Prime Time report, Shortt proceeds to discuss the more personal effects of the embargo upon Dr. Mona el-Farra, a leading member of a highly partisan NGO called the ‘Middle East Children’s Alliance’ (MECA):
“But the blockade goes deeper. Gazans cannot travel freely across their borders. Dr. Mona el-Farra was prevented from travelling to Ireland in March to speak at a conference.”
The conference in question was organised by SIPTU in Dublin. SIPTU, Ireland’s largest trade union, has long pushed for a strong anti-Israel agenda, and supports a boycott. Some made a fuss of her non-attendance at the time. Sinn Féin-IRA leader, Gerry Adams, took up el-Farra’s cause with the Minister for Foreign Affairs, Charlie Flanagan, but the conference, far from advocating a fair just solution to the Arab-Israeli conflict, actually promoted a boycott of Israel, and a one-state solution, which would destroy the self-determination of the Jewish People, in a region that is otherwise Judenrein.

Therefore, it was no surprise that el-Farra proceeded to blame Israel for not letting her travel through its borders. She suggested it was because her voice is ‘loud’. However, neither she nor the programme makers noted that both Egypt and Israel denied her passage from Gaza, nor that both states have a right to control their borders, particularly when belligerent groups lie in wait beyond these barriers!

It should be noted that the Palestinian Authority constitutes the body responsible for the issuance of Gaza’s passports, as established in the Interim agreement with Israel. It is left unsaid in Shortt’s report, but Hamas has accused its Fatah/PLO rivals of frustrating the efforts of academics and campaigners to travel from the Gaza Strip, since 2008.

 
For the children?

Notably, Robert Shortt’s reports focused to a significant extent on the welfare of children. He states:
“Its against this backdrop of continuing violence and confrontational politics that children like Mara attempt to grow up.”

Like many Gazan children, she has seen the horrors of war. Psychological support has helped her re-adjust.”
Similarly, to quote a promotional webpage:
“Dr El Farra was prevented from travelling to Ireland in March to speak at a conference on Gaza. Her main concern is the impact of the conflict on the children of Gaza.”
Dr. el-Farra comments further on the predicament of Gaza’s children, who suffer the effects of war:
“The direct impact is the children don’t sleep well at night, having nightmares. Different sorts of phobias. Some of them lost speech. Some of them are afraid of dark nights or back to bedwetting again.

Some cannot focus at school. They became very irritable and they cannot focus at school. And this of course has another effect which is social problems. Have restless children, quarrelous, aggressive children.

There’s no life at the moment in Gaza. You are coming as visitor but I live here, and I go everyday to the refugee camp areas, and I can see the frustration on peoples faces and souls and minds.

My concern is the youth. They will start looking for radical solutions, getting involved with more radical Islamist groups like ISIS”
In this context, Israel’s influence on Gaza, through embargo and war, is blamed for these disturbing behavioural traits. Oddly however, neither el-Farra, or the programme makers, mentioned the extent to which Hamas radicalises Gaza’s children, with thousands of youngsters going to training camps. Even some Gaza-based anti-Israel NGOs are objecting to Hamas’ use of children in this way:
“local human rights groups are accusing Hamas of exploiting children for political purposes.

“We are not disputing the right of an occupied people to resist, but it must be done by adults, not children,” one human rights activist told AFP, speaking on condition of anonymity.

“The camps are making young people aggressive instead of educating them and teaching them to abide by the law,” the activist said.”
Thus, problematic unsocial behaviour in children can equally be attributed to radicalisation. Hamas and other Arab-Palestinian factions have engaged in such behaviour, which is illegal under international law. The issue is far from recent, e.g. with the use of children in the First Arab Revolt of 1936.

Despite el-Farra’s/MECA’s professed wish to see the welfare of Arab-Palestinian children improve, the vocal defence of terrorism, and use of children for emotive conflict propaganda, may explain why they turn a blind eye to the abuse of children on their very doorstep, an abuse that even has expression in Gaza’s media. “Every Muslim mother must nurse her children on hatred of the sons of Zion” is one of Hamas’ many statements on the desired outcome of parenting.

Schools have long been a source of radicalisation in the Arab-Palestinian territories. Even children attending UNRWA’s own putatively civilian schools can experience the force of radicalisation. The headmaster of Zeitoun Elementary Boys school openly celebrates genocide and massacre. Shortt visited the school but seemingly such behaviour didn’t deserve mention!

El-Farra frets about the possibility of Islamic State becoming popular in Gaza. While the Western media presents ISIS in justifiably strong terms, due to its extraordinary bloodlust, Hamas’ speech is notably more extreme with respect to its advocacy of the genocide of all Jews, leading to the distinct possibility that the Sunni group’s bloodlust is only impeded by arguably the most sophisticated counter-terror force in the world.
 
 
Does responsibility lie with Arab-Palestinian rule?

Shortt’s coverage suggests Israel treats Gazans worse today than say a year ago. Arguably the opposite is the case. Shortt failed to report on various developments. For example, Israel facilitates the mass transit of construction materials into Gaza. Israel is doubling the water delivery to Gaza, after a crisis due to illegal drilling in the Strip’s coastal aquifer. Israel is also helping to increase the supply of electricity in the region, and may have indirectly engaged in discussions with Hamas, to construct a pipeline going from the Jewish State to Gaza to reinforce the electricity supply.

It is of course stating the obvious to say there are very limited opportunities for the people of Gaza, and that many are likely to feel a deep sense of despair. However, although conditions are extremely challenging after the damage caused by war, further Israeli initiatives, for business and reconstruction, were initiated during the latter months of 2014.

Shortt focuses on Israel’s blameworthiness for the present circumstances blighting the Gaza Strip, but what of Hamas and the Palestinian Authority themselves? The viewer only hears mention of “dysfunctional Palestinian politics”. Perhaps he hints at a topic that goes beyond Hamas’ rejectionist stances. He may refer to factionalism and corruption but viewers are not advised even though it relates strongly to the topic at hand. Is blameworthiness attributable to non-Jews of less interest to the viewer?

It is acknowledged that political factionalism has played abidingly negative role on conditions in Gaza from the very outset.

Other than previously mentioned issues, such as the dispute over passport issuance, there have been continued disagreements between Hamas and the Palestinian Authority over the payment of trans-state energy bills, which has resulted in power cuts of up to 18 hours per day. Such a measure would have a profoundly destructive impact on any economy. Likewise, the PA is believed to be intentionally slowing the payment of wages to State employees in Gaza, which constitute a substantive source of revenue to the localised economy. Lack of pay for many months has led to protests. There have been reports that Hamas is imposing another tax on imports, the monies from stressed private sectors will go into the pockets of long-unpaid members of Hamas.

Hamas have claimed that the Palestinian Authority demanded control of 50% of the monies pledged by international donors, to aid reconstruction in Gaza, whilst also stating that they rebuffed an Israeli offer to lift the embargo, and open up Gaza’s territory for shipping and air travel, in return for a long term truce. Both Fatah/PA and Hamas have of course their own agendas in attempting to commandeer billions of dollars in promised international aid.

 
Shortt on facts?

As we have seen, Shortt’s capacity to place blame on Israel was achieved due to significant omissions of basic fact inconvenient to his narrative. Shortt closed his Prime Time report with these troubling sentiments:
“Gaza is hemmed in by the sea and Israel. Its people are caught between dysfunctional Palestinian politics and the constant threat of war. The tide of violence breaks regularly here. Summer is coming. People fear what it may bring.”
Tellingly, Shortt made no mention of the fact that Israel’s embargo and maritime blockade is made in partnership with Egypt. This is a normative approach for the media, which largely ignores Egypt’s crucial role. Egypt has long appreciated the threat that Hamas poses to its security, as a military faction of the long proscribed Egyptian Muslim Brotherhood. Whilst the Arab nation did temporarily allow access through its borders, Egypt’s policy had broadly been harsher than that of Israel, giving little assistance at all.

Be that as it may, conditions for the people of Gaza are harsh. Siobhan Powell of UNRWA stated:
“There are no jobs so people can’t provide food for their families. It’s why we have such a dependency on assistance.”
Such a claim is an exaggeration, with the employment rate of Gaza largely remaining at 55% in recent years. Beyond the hyperbole, it is one of the highest rates in the world. The international community, including UNRWA, et al, blame Israel for such circumstance. And yet, in Israel’s defence, it does foster assistance programmes, continues to provide water and electricity (sometimes at its own peril), and supplies the assistance that keeps Gaza fed, the fuel to provide comfort and transport, and the materials to at least tentatively rebuild.

Shortt’s closing statement illustrates the problem with these normative media narratives — they flatly refuse to place any meaningful blame at Hamas’ door. Any sensible evaluation would surely conclude that when Israel withdrew from Gaza, Hamas, via the electorate’s assistance, took the opportunity to perpetuate conflict. Israel had to act to cut off a lethal belligerent operating freely on one of its borders.

The international community decry the wars with Hamas, and they decry the suffering of the populace. A highly vocal number claim that Israel should release Gaza from its embargo, and somehow peace will be found! All such a strategy will do is give Hamas carte blanche to wage a greater scale of war. As a result, Gaza’s civilians and the Israeli populace near Gaza’s border, will suffer all the more. There is no option for peace, other than Gaza being rid of Hamas, but the common ideological blind spot, which Shortt appears to suffer from, has to blame Israel for not only for its own legitimate defensible actions, but for the pain Hamas visits on the populace that voted it in on a mandate of continued strife.
“We shall not rest until our entire holy land is liberated … To the Zionists we promise that tomorrow all of Palestine will become hell for you” (Memri)

First published in Eirael.

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Posted on 05/27/2015 11:56 AM by Robert Harris
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Wednesday, 27 May 2015
Is it Game Over for the P5+1 Deal with Iran’s Nukes?
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Negotiators of Iran and six world powers face each other at a table in the historic basement of Palais Coburg hotel in Vienna April 24, 2015.
Reuters/Heinz-Peter Bader

Reuters has two reports on  negotiating  hiccups possibly forestalling  conclusion of the P5+1 deal with Iran and its nuclear program.  One  report indicates another possible  extension of the ‘final agreement’ deadline  beyond June 30th .  A related  re port  reveals  a stiffening position of France, that there will be no deal unless full access is provided to military facilities. As we have heard previously, that is verboten according to Iran’s Supreme Ruler. Thus, are we witnessing the a denouement  or  simply kicking the can down the road. Either way, President Obama’s legacy  of an opening to  Iran may be slipping from his grasp. Doubtless that may bring up short those EU and US companies   poised to  partake tens of billions in development deals under discussion with Islamic Republic should economic sanctions be lifted under the proposed P5+1 deal. If the diplomatic  deal  is cratering, it leaves the question of whether this a momentary speed bump or a finality?  If the latter what options would the US and especially Israel have to deter Iran’s quest for nuclear hegemony? 

On the matter of a possible delay in the P5+1 deadline, Reuters noted:

A self-imposed deadline of June 30 for Iran and six major powers to reach a final nuclear deal to resolve a decade-long standoff may be extended, Iran's state TV reported.

France's ambassador to the United States, Gerard Araud, said on Tuesday that the deal was not likely by June 30 because technical details would remain to be agreed.

"The deadline might be extended and the talks might continue after the June 30 (deadline)," Iranian senior nuclear negotiator Abbas Araqchi was quoted as saying.

"We are not bound to a specific time. We want a good deal that covers our demands."

Ambassador Araud said it could take a few weeks of July to complete the technical annexes that are envisaged under an agreement if one can be reached.

Iran and the six powers resumed talks in Vienna on Wednesday to bridge gaps still remaining in their negotiating positions ahead of the deadline.

"The meetings on deputy negotiators level take place in the context of the E3/EU +3's diplomatic efforts towards a negotiated, comprehensive solution to the Iranian nuclear issue," the EU said in a statement.

Once, France’s redoubtable Foreign Minister Laurent Fabius exhibited toughness in these negotiations by going public with a demand that could be a deal killer:. Reuters reported:

France's foreign minister said on Wednesday his country would not back any nuclear deal with Iran unless it provided full access to all installations, including military sites.

"France will not accept (a deal) if it is not clear that inspections can be done at all Iranian installations, including military sites," Laurent Fabius told lawmakers .

Iran's supreme leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei last week ruled out international inspection of Iran's military sites or access to nuclear scientists under any nuclear agreement. Iran's military leaders echoed his remarks.

Fabius said he wanted other countries negotiating with Iran in the framework of the so-called P5+1 - also including Britain, China, Germany, Russia and the United States - to adopt France's position.

"'Yes' to an agreement, but not to an agreement that will enable Iran to have the atomic bomb. That is the position of France which is independent and peaceful."

However, it would be premature to exhibit schaden freude until a possible declaration occurs. The P5+1 side is stacked with cunning appeasers intent on cutting any deal that allows them to achieve economic bounty from development deals, while Iran gets away with an unverifiable and "very bad deal", as Israeli PM Netanyahu and many GOP members of Congress have said innumerable times. They may have their limited opportunity to vote on a deal under the recently passed bi-parrisan INARA, leaving President Obama to trump their possible negative vote with a veto. But first let's see if a final agreement is in the offing sometime in July or later. Stay tuned for developments.

 

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Posted on 05/27/2015 10:16 AM by Jerry Gordon
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Wednesday, 27 May 2015
Wanton Saudi Bombing Continues In Yemen
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Here.

Aren't you thinking about how different was the reaction of the "international community" to the constrained, carefully-targetted bombing by the Israelis in the Gaza campaign, when many times an attack would be called off if civilians were spotted. It was indignation, outrage, fury, horror. 

For months the Saudis have been bombing at will, the richest Arab country destroying so much of the poorest. And the Houthis are not people who pose the kind of threat to Saudi Arabia that Hamas posed to Israel; they pose no real threat at all. The Saudis just don't like them increasing their power in parts of Yemen, and don't care,of course, that it is only the Houthis who are prepared to attack Al Qaeda. The Saudis don't care about Al Qaeda, because Al Qaeda is focussed on the West, not the Al-Saud. Saudi and other Arab warplanes, knowing the Houthis have no way to fight bac, bomb at will, every day, wherever they feel like it. They bomb military installations, but also bomb civilians. They don't care. They aren't about to call off any bombing runs. They'd just as soon destroy as many of the Shi'a in Yemen as they can. Why? It cannot be argued that the miserable Yemeni quasi-state, whether controlled by the Houthis or not, could be a threat to Saudi Arabia, the largest arms buyer in the world, with hundreds of billions of dollars in weaponry, and the American government apparently permanently in its pocket.

But why is there no protest in the "international community" ? Where even do you find a palpable sense of unease at Saudi behavior and attitudes?

There is none.

Compare. Contrast.

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Posted on 05/27/2015 9:12 AM by Hugh Fitzgerald
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Wednesday, 27 May 2015
The Boeing CHAMP Missile-A Non Nuclear EMP – Does Israel have its Version under Development?
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Boeing CHAMP non nuclear EMP cruise missile

We noticed that the Boeing CHAMP non-nuclear EMP missile is back in the news after first surfacing following US Air Force (USAF) Research tests in Wendover, Utah in October, 2012. CHAMP stands for Counter-electronics High Power Microwave Advanced Missile. Yesterday, Digital Journal reported CHAMP’s official announcement by the USAF, “Boeing debuts powerful electromagnetic pulse weapon”:

The main development of CHAMP comes from Boeing, and it appears the project has been underway for several years. The system draws power from a microwave-emitting generator capable of killing electronics with a much higher accuracy rate. Rather than targeting entire blocks or even cities, the CHAMP targets only specific buildings.

In addition to its accuracy, it's also got another advantage; it can fire multiple times, unlike previous EMP devices that can only be used once at a time. In theory, the CHAMP could quickly take out several targeted buildings in rapid succession.

CHAMP is actually the result of three companies' work. Besides Boeing, Raytheon helped build the system's inner electronic workings, and Lockheed Martin built a special surface-to-air missile that delivers CHAMP to its targets. Called the Joint Air-to-Surface Standoff Missile — Extended Range (JASSM-ER), it has a range of at least 600 miles and can be used by B-1 and B-52 bombers, F-15 and F-16 and the F-35 stealth fighter.

In a single test mission in Utah, CHAMP successfully blacked out all seven of its targets in a single flight. It clearly impressed the U.S. Air Force, as it's apparently already in use in tactical forces.

Watch this YouTube video of the Air Force Research Lab test of the Boeing CHAMP missile from October 2012:

An Iconoclast post on October 28, 2012 showed Boeing video of a successful test of a CHAMP missile knocking out a bank of computers.  We wrote:

Israel could have a new unconventional capability given Boeing’s development of a new cruise missile the CHAMP that could produce high energy non-nuclear EMP effects to take out electronics.  Note this recent Digital Journal report, “New cruise missile will fry electronic targets, change warfare”.

The successful test of a US-directed energy weapon hints at a change in the frequency and impact of future warfare. The new missile proved it can fry an enemy's electronics using radio waves.

On October 16, 2012 a team comprised of members of Boeing’s Phantom Works, Raytheon's Ktech and the US Air Force Research Laboratory (AFRL) Directed Energy Directorate successful conducted a missile test for a weapons system capable of decimating a country’s defenses and critically altering the military balance.

The team, led by Boeing and officially known as the Counter-electronics High Powered Advanced Missile Project (CHAMP), held the test at the Utah Test and Training Range. During the hour-long demonstration a cruise missile flew over a target compound and completely disabled the electronic systems of seven targets including a two-storey building by emitting a burst of high powered radio waves.

“This technology marks a new era in modern-day warfare,” CHAMP program manager for Phantom Works, Keith Coleman said.

 “In the near future, this technology may be used to render an enemy’s electronic and data systems useless even before the first troops or aircraft arrive.”

Though the test simulated how a CHAMP missile could be used to shut down enemy radar in advance of a US air attack, hitting targets with non-kinetic energy, the new weapon is officially categorized as a non-lethal weapons system developed under the Future Combat Systems (FCS), which also includes advance robotic systems like autonomous unmanned combat aerial vehicles (UCAVs).

CHAMP is a directed energy weapon (DEW) that uses high powered microwaves (HPW) in the megawatt range to overwhelm any electronics systems similar to an electromagnetic pulse (EMP) emitted from the detonation of an atomic bomb but without the kinetic force of a bomb.

American Israeli correspondent Jack DeLowe mirrored our own comments in an email exchange:

Imagine Israel using this weapon from their Popeye missile that could be fired from a standoff distance from a submerged Dolphin submarine or in the air from their Hermes Drone.  This could be used to not only paralyze the Iranian underground centrifuge facilities, but also to cut off Iran’s radar, missile systems and to cut off their entire communication system.

Given Israel’s high tech development, it would not surprise many of us that it probably its own version of CHAMP in late stages of development.  

Israel hardly ever talks about what it has either under development or in its inventory of advanced weapons.  There is the SPICE 250 glide bomb developed by Israeli company Rafael Advanced Defense Systems, Ltd. and used against targets in Syria.  SPICE stands for Smart, Precise Impact Cost-effective with a range of 100 kilometers.

Watch this YouTube video of Rafael’s SPICE250 glide bomb:

Then there is another Rafael development, the air and submarine launched Popeye Turbo missile. The Popeye Turbo tube launched cruise missiles carried by Dolphin Class submarines which has a range of 1500 kilometers and can be equipped with both conventional and nuclear warheads. Israel just added a fifth Dolphin submarine to its fleet with a Sixth due from German shipyards in 2017. Thus, theoretically, Israel could likely retrofit both air and submarine launched variants of the Popeye Turbots with CHAMP-like warheads.  But, as we said earlier, Israel unlike the US doesn’t talk about such developments.

Watch this YouTube video of the air-launched version of the Popeye Turbo missile used by the Indian Air Force:

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Posted on 05/27/2015 7:40 AM by Jerry Gordon
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Wednesday, 27 May 2015
From The Annals Of Banality, Or, Just Think
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From the Harvard Gazette:

"Students greeted each other under the flag at University Hall (photo 1) before jubilantly (photo 2) entering the Memorial Church for the Baccalaureate Service. Plummer Professor of Christian Morals and Pusey Minister Jonathan Walton (photo 3) served as host, and reminded the graduating seniors that this week is called Commencement not because it’s the end of their college careers, but because it is “only the beginning.”

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Posted on 05/27/2015 7:09 AM by Hugh Fitzgerald
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Tuesday, 26 May 2015
Turkish Court Declares Despot's Palace Illegal
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Here.

This latter-day Padishah, Recep Fatih, wanted his very own Dolmabahce or, more exactly, his very own Topkapi. So he built himself a palace, with 1,150 rooms, all in the worst possible taste, but there's no room at Erdogan's inn for good taste, or for law, or for justice. What will the temporarily foiled Erdogan do now? He'll arrest the judges. He'll call them agents of the Americans. Or the Israelis. What else would you expect?

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Posted on 05/26/2015 5:28 PM by Hugh Fitzgerald
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Tuesday, 26 May 2015
Burak Bekdil: Turkey, The NATO Member That Has Been Helping The Islamic State
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Posted on 05/26/2015 4:56 PM by Hugh Fitzgerald
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Tuesday, 26 May 2015
A Musical Interlude: All Of Me (Russ Columbo)
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Listen here.
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Posted on 05/26/2015 4:34 PM by Hugh Fitzgerald
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Tuesday, 26 May 2015
An Exam Question For Mandarins
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"His man's when is no otherman's quandour."

Please discuss.

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Posted on 05/26/2015 4:25 PM by Hugh Fitzgerald
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Tuesday, 26 May 2015
Yet Another Muslim Marriage Ruse To Remain In The West
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The West -- the West that is to be hated, but all of its many benefits, including the security, the freedom from violence, that the advanced non-Muslim provides, as well as all the expensive government-supported education, health care, housing -- so sedulously taken advantage of by  Muslims have proven so remarkably adept at profiting from every last bit of aid that is on offer, now has another thing to worry about and monitor.

Story here.

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Posted on 05/26/2015 4:13 PM by Hugh Fitzgerald
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Tuesday, 26 May 2015
Dr. Mordechai Kedar On Muslims In The West
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Posted on 05/26/2015 2:23 PM by Hugh Fitzgerald
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