Clashes rage in Syria between army, deserters

DAMASCUS (AFP) — Clashes raged Thursday in Syria between troops and suspected army deserters as more civilians were reportedly killed in the crisis-hit country, a rights group said.

On the diplomatic front the Arab League announced that Syrian authorities had agreed to allow a delegation to visit the country next week as part of efforts by the 22-member organization to defuse the spiraling violence.

“We have received approval from the Syrian government to receive a ministerial delegation headed by Qatar on Wednesday, October 26,” Arab League Assistant Secretary General Wagih Hanafi said in Cairo.

The delegation will also include Arab League Secretary General Nabil al-Arabi and the foreign ministers of Algeria Egypt, Oman and Sudan.

Violence in Syria has intensified in recent weeks as defections from the army reportedly increase, and at least five civilians died in Thursday’s violence, the Syrian Observatory f

(www.maannews.net / 20.10.2011)

or Human Rights said.

 

Tunisians abroad vote in first Arab Spring election

PARIS (AFP) — Tunisians abroad thronged to vote Thursday in the first post-Arab Spring free election, three days before their compatriots at home go to the polls to turn the page on 23 years of autocratic rule.

Like many who voted on Thursday, historic opposition figure Kamel Jendoubi, who heads the overall election organizing body ISIE, was tearful as he voted at a consulate in Paris.

“I dreamt of this day, I couldn’t imagine but now I’m living it!” he said. “If we came here a few months ago, a few years ago, we’d simply be thrown out, it wasn’t our house.”

Expat Tunisians choose 18 of the 217 members of the constituent assembly, voting until Saturday in six “constituencies”: two in France, one in Italy, one in Germany, one in North America and one for other Arab nations.

Tunisians living in former colonial ruler France will elect 10 of these 18 seats, in an assembly that will be tasked with drafting a new constitution.

(www.maannews.net / 20.10.2011)

Van wie is de crisis?

Elke dag kan er gehoord worden dat er bezuinigd moet worden (in Nederland 18 miljard euro), dat het slecht gaat in Europa en dat landen en banken in waarde worden verminderd. Het geheel wordt door de gehele maatschappij voelbaar maar vooral onder
diegenen met de kleine portemonnee.

Maar is het wel de crisis voor ‘de kleine  portemonnee’? Zijn de mensen die het toch al moeilijk hebben, verantwoordelijk voor de financiële problemen en moeten zij deze problemen oplossen?

Elk weldenkend mens zal op het eerste deel van de vraag aangeven, neen, deze mensen zijn niet verantwoordelijk voor de financiële problemen, echter over het tweede deel van de vraag zijn de meningen verdeeld.

Bekijkend naar een aantal punten, kunnen een aantal belangrijke punten genoemd worden: banken waar het mis gaat, graaiende directeuren en / of bestuurders en pensioenfondsendie met het geld van de verzekerde mensen op de markt bezig zijn.

Met de kreet graaiende directeuren en / of bestuurders moet vooral gekeken worden naar de salarissen van deze mensen. Indien bestuurders van bv. een goede-doel-organisatie ruim € 370.000 per jaar verdient (Unicef), dan kan er gevraagd worden of dit
wel nodig is. Zet daarnaast de bestuurders van Rode Kruis, Hartstichting, Nierstichting, Kerk in Actie, KWF, Artsen zonder grenzen, Prins Bernard Cultuurfonds, Natuurmonumenten (om zo er maar enkele te noemen), die allemaal ruim € 150.000 per jaar opstrijken, dan wordt de vraag steeds groter: “Waarom de bezuinigingen verhalen op de mensen aan de onderkant van de maatschappij?” Bedenk dat een bestuurder naast het ruime salaris ook nog naar huis gaat met zaken die vallen onder primaire of secundaire arbeidsvoorwaarden, zoals ruime declaratievergoedingen, pensioenvoorzieningen en leaseauto’s , dan mag de vraag
gesteld worden of dit allemaal nog wel past binnen de “gure wind van rechtse bezuinigingen bij de arme Nederlander” ? Vergeet niet, dat een jaarsalaris van €180.000 inhoudt dat men elke maand ca. € 15.000 moet verwerken. Terwijl bepaalde mensen die het
moeilijk hebben in onze maatschappij, elke euro moeten omdraaien en het moeten rooien vaak van € 873,71

Een volgend probleem zijn de pensioenen; ‘plotseling’  blijkt dat bepaalde pensioenfondsen onder de minimale dekking zitten van
105%. De grote pensioenfondsen, ABP, Bouw, Zorg & Welzijn, PNO Media, PME en PMT zijn onder 97% gezakt. De vraag hierbij dus weer: “Wie gaat dit betalen?”  U weet dit antwoord reeds, nl. u en ik, maar vooral de mensen die het al niet makkelijk hebben, de mensen met de kleine portemonnee.

De pensioenfondsen zullen naar dat wettelijke niveau van 105% terug moeten, wat gepaard gaat met verhoging van de premie en verlaging van de uitkering van het pensioen, echter bij een aantal fondsen zijn al een aantal jaren de pensioenen niet verhoogd, bv. Zorg en Welzijn al drie jaar niet meer.

Wat gebeurt er nu met het geld dat ingelegd wordt? De fondsen proberen naast wat “leuke zaken”,  het geld weg te zetten om op de duur meer geld binnen te halen – althans dat was de opzet, maar gezien de financiële crisis en het beleggen in verkeerde fondsen, is er meer geld verloren dan er geld binnenkwam. M.a.w. de pensioenfondsen zijn niet zorgvuldig omgegaan met uw en mijn geld.

Maar hoe gaan de problemen nu opgelost worden? Bezuinigingen en nog meer bezuinigingen … dat staat vast. En de pineut zijn de mensen met de kleine portemonnee; de persoon met € 15.000 per maand zal het niet snel merken.

Mr. Rutte als u een kerel bent, als u ballen wilt tonen, probeer het eens via een andere weg: de graaicultuur eruit, de graaiende grootverdieners eens meer laten betalen, de man of vrouw met de kleine portemonnee meer ontzien. Tevens in het kader van
Europa en haar financiële crisis: kies eens duidelijk en blijf dat standpunt vasthouden, of stap zelf uit de eurozone of versterk Europa, sterker nog maak er een echt Europa zodat we echt de crisis kunnen oplossen.

@ KhamakarPress

Arab world 20.10.2011

20.10.2011 23:03:07 Cabinet approved an agreement to raise the price of gas exports to Jordan
10/20/2011 22:28:54 prisoners of hamas gov: 5300 prisoners are still in the prisons of the occupation
10/20/2011 20:03:53 President shall grant release of the prisoners of the financial editors
10/20/2011 19:54:13 occupation arrested 14 protesters in front of the Hasharon prison
10/20/2011 16:47:49 Conference for the Reconstruction of Gaza in Amman next Monday
10/20/2011 16:30:27 Hamas confirms postponement of Meshaal’s visit to Jordan for reasons of “logistics”
10/20/2011 16:25:24 Erekat: Members of the Security Council will give their opinion membership of Palestine in November 11
10/20/2011 16:10:28 adjust the Israeli tourist port of Taba in possession of a weapon and ammunition
10/20/2011 15:30:55 a central opening emphasizes the need to complete reconciliation and prepare for the meeting of the Quartet
10/20/2011 14:30:41 Egyptian source: exchange deal between Israel and Egypt during the days begin to cross Taba
10/20/2011 14:21:49 occupation forces stormed the area in the upper suburbs of Nablus
10/20/2011 13:51:59 President shall grant the release of prisoners of finance editors in their honor
10/20/2011 13:29:07 request of the manufacturer: all Palestinian prisoners Shalit is for Palestinians
10/20/2011 13:16:30 Erekat: Israel responsible for the collapse of the peace process

A harvest of tears: Palestinian agriculture continues to suffer as a result of ruthless Israeli policies

A harvest of tears: Palestinian agriculture continues to suffer as a result of ruthless Israeli policies.Olive production

It is olive harvest season once again in the Occupied Palestinian Territories (OPTs) and something unusual is taking place, something unique to this region. Unlike most harvests around the world which are collected either by local farmers or migrant workers, in the case of Palestine people are literally flying in from all over the globe, albeit in very small numbers, in order to participate in the olive picking season. This is not due to a cultural tradition or as a communal celebration or festival, but to a sense of solidarity. These are international solidarity campaignersiwho fly to the Holy Land to stand side-by-side with Palestinian farmers in order to be witnesses and, frequently, protectors for the farmers as they attempt to harvest their meagre crops while being brutalised by Israeli soldiers and illegal Jewish settlers who try to stop them.

The fruit of the olive tree is deeply symbolic to the Palestinian people; it is their most popular and enduring crop. The olive tree is connected to the land of Palestine historically, culturally and even spiritually, with the olive being mentioned as a blessed fruit in the Qur’an and the Bible. Olive trees can live for hundreds of years and generations of families look after the same trees. They are an enduring part of many Palestinians’ heritage and create a special bond between the people and their land. An attack on the harvest and the trees by Jewish settlers and the Israeli authorities is therefore also an attack on the culture and identity of the entire Palestinian people.

An attack on Palestinian livelihood

Olives comprise “25% of the total agricultural production in the West Bank”ii and olives and their by-products, including soap, olive oil, etc., are one of the most robust elements of the Palestinian economy. However, this source of income is being targeted ruthlessly and has become the focus of a concerted campaign by Israel to force Palestinians off their land and, in the process, degrade and demoralise them. Palestinian farmers have had their land stolen, their crops set on fire, their trees uprooted, and their farms fenced-off beyond their reach and bricked up behind the Separation Wall, and so on. Their orchards have been razed to make way for the building of ever more illegal settlements and racist settler-only roads, and to make way for the continued construction of the illegal “apartheid” wall as well as for no other reason than simply to grab more Palestinian land.

Whereas in the past the olive harvest traditionally provided employment for thousands upon thousands of people in each region, with families working together to bring in the crops, to press the olives, to manufacture the by-products (and to export them), there are now fewer people who can earn a living this way; as a result, Palestinian families are struggling desperately. In 2010 alone it is estimated that “Israeli forces and settlers uprooted or burnt at least 10,346 olive trees in the West Bank.”iii In Gaza it is
estimated by the Palestinian Authority’s Ministry of Agriculture, that Israeli forces have “destroyed at least 114,000 olive trees in the strip since the outbreak of the Palestinian Intifada in 2000.”iv In fact, conservative estimates put the number of olive trees destroyed by the Israelis since the creation of the Zionist state on Palestinian land in 1948 at more than one million; of those, around half have been destroyed since 1987.

Moreover, it is not only olive production which has been affected. While olives and olive trees certainly form the bedrock of the Palestinian agricultural economy, and have a unique connection to Palestinian culture and history, they are by no means the
only agricultural produce to come under attack. The whole Palestinian agricultural sector is threatened by the Israeli authorities in a number of ways. In Gaza, for example, the production of all crops is suffering not least because of Israel’s designation of “no go” zones and “high risk” zones. According to the UN Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs in the OPTs (UN-OCHA), 17% of Gaza is now classified as one form of danger zone or another and is therefore inaccessible to farmers who risk being shot and killed by Israeli snipers if they attempt to set foot in those areas, let alone farm there; remember, this is the Palestinians’ own land. Of that 17%, approximately 95%v is now out of bounds and can no longer be used even though it is arable land. It is further estimated that a staggering “35% of Gaza’s cultivable land is located within the restricted area”. This obviously has a serious effect in terms of the local economy.

As the UN-OCHA report states, “Considering that the large majority of the restricted area on land is agricultural and comprises some 35 per cent of Gaza’s cultivable land, it is not surprising that agriculture-related assets, including fruit trees, greenhouses, chicken and sheep farms and water wells account for 90 per cent of all asset losses. The total value of this property was estimated at USD 275 million. Within this category, the most valuable type of asset is fruit bearing trees, including olive, almond, citrus and grapes. These trees, which take years to grow and maintain before yielding a profitable income, account for more than 213 million
[dollars], or 77 per cent of all agricultural losses, followed by greenhouses (47 million [dollars]), water wells (9 million [dollars]), sheep farms (4.5 million [dollars]) and chicken farms (2 million [dollars]).”

A harvest of tears: Palestinian agriculture continues to suffer as a result of ruthless Israeli policies.

Source: UN-OCHAvi

Furthermore, in the UN-OCHA report “Between the fence and a hard place – The humanitarian impact of Israeli – imposed restrictions on access to land and sea in the Gaza strip” it states: “The value of agricultural and other property destroyed in the past five years in the land restricted area is conservatively estimated at USD 308 million (replacement cost). Agriculture-related assets include fruit trees, greenhouses, chicken and sheep farms and water wells, and account for 90 per cent of this cost. It has been further estimated that access restrictions and the related destruction of agricultural assets results in a yearly loss of approximately 75,000 metric tons of potential produce. The market value of this produce is conservatively estimated at USD 50.2 million a year. Most farmers… indicated that since the expansion of the restricted area in 2008, their income from agriculture has been reduced to less than a third of its previous amount. Others reported having their income wiped out.”vii

Official Israeli policy – levelling and confiscating the land

One way that the Israeli authorities destroy the crops of Palestinian farmers is by levelling the farmland using armoured tractors and bulldozers and simply razing the crops and groves. In the occupied West Bank, according to the Palestine Centre for Human Rights Annual Report for 2010, “Israel confiscated and/or levelled at least 13,149 dunums of land [around 3,250 acres] across the West Bank; this figure includes areas of land annexed by Israeli settlers but does not include closed areas, such as the Jordan Valley in the east of the West Bank, access to which by Palestinians is prohibited by Israeli forces.”

Israeli soldiers themselves are responsible for much of the destruction. A farmer from Gaza describes being present when “Israeli soldiers fired small bombs into his field, which soon after caught ablaze.” He explained that, “The Israeli soldiers fired from their jeeps, causing a fire to break out on the land. They burned the wheat, burned the pomegranate trees… The fire spread across the valley. We called the fire brigades. They came to the area and put out the fire. But in some places the fire started again.” Safadi estimates that he lost “30,000 square metres to the blaze, including 300 pomegranate trees, 150 olive trees, and wheat.”viii

Another Israeli method is to issue military orders demanding that farmers refrain from picking their crops and then arrest them if they refuse to comply. Another common method is simply to set fire to the fields.

Settler attacks on farmers and agricultural land

It is not only the Israeli government and soldiers who make life miserable for Palestinian farmers but also illegal Jewish settlers, who are given a free rein by the Israeli authorities to wreak havoc in the OPTs. Settler attacks take many forms, including the burning of fields and trees; digging-up trees, both ancient and saplings; beating-up farmers who tend their crops, and so on. The reasons for these attacks include “price tag” or revenge attacks whereby the uprooting or burning of trees is said to be in
“retaliation” for Palestinian acts of resistanceix and, bizarrely, the removal of settlement outposts (illegal even under Israeli law) by Israeli security forces. It is also done to intimidate Palestinians and make life as difficult as possible to “encourage” them to leave their land.

While some attacks take place in broad daylight by brazen settlers who know they can get away with it, other acts of arson, vandalism and violence are committed under cover of darkness. It is common to read news items like the following: “This morning
Maher Abu Sab’a’ discovered that 248 out of the 250 olive tree saplings that had recently been planted on his land had been destroyed over-night. The saplings which had been planted three months previously had been systematically uprooted from the earth and broken with their remains left scattered over the earth… The attack took place right next to the Israeli checkpoint and watch tower on road 60, however it would appear that there was no intervention in the attack.”x

Not only do such attacks usually go unchallenged by the Israeli soldiers and other authorities who turn a blind eye to settler outrages, but settler attacks are also given the religious go-ahead by extremist rabbis. In 2002, for example, “Rabbi Mordechai Eliahu, Israel’s former chief rabbi, issued a religious edict allowing Jewish settlers to steal Palestinian olive crops in their respective areas.”xi This sort of pronouncement encourages settlers to rampage through Palestinian farms stealing and destroying
Palestinian property.

Headlines like these are appearing far too frequently: Palestinian Trees Destroyed in On-going Settler Vandalism, Harassment; Israel destroying Gaza’s farmlands; Jewish settlers uproot hundreds of Palestinian olive trees; 300 Trees uprooted in Salfit village by IOF; Olive Trees uprooted in Jayyous apparently to make Room for another Settlement; Settlers Set Fire to Palestinian Crops Near Hebron.

This has been a matter of concern highlighted by UN Special Rapporteurs. According to the Special Rapporteur on the right to food, Olivier De Schutter, “The ongoing demolition of agricultural and livelihood structures has exacerbated food insecurity amongst Palestinians in the West Bank… Herder communities have lost access to water for their animals, farmers have been
evicted from their land, and Bedouin communities have been especially affected by these demolitions – sometimes having had their property destroyed on repeated occasions.” In addition, the Special Rapporteur “expressed concern about the loss of livelihoods due to unchecked attacks by Israeli settlers on Palestinian-owned productive land and natural resources.” (27th Sept 2011)xii

Conclusion

The destruction of Palestinian property in a way which results in the mass deprivation of traditional sources of livelihood for entire communities should be a matter of concern to all human rights advocates. The fact that this is being done by a regime which is conducting a military occupation of the land of a native population in breach of the Geneva Conventions and all standards of
moral decency is a disgrace. It is a cowardly act to attack the source of income for a people already struggling under that occupation and living with the threat of arrest, harassment and death. It is a matter which should be addressed by the
international community as a matter of urgency.

Furthermore, the destruction of agricultural land and the razing of crops, trees and farmland should be a cause of serious concern to all environmental activists. Organisations like Greenpeace, environmental campaigners and ecologists the world over should broaden the scope of their concerns to include the wanton destruction of millions of trees, huge swathes of farm land and other
environmental hazards created by the Israeli regime. The uprooting and burning of trees is only the tip of the iceberg in terms of Israel’s environmental violations. There is also the significant pollution of the land and water supplies of Gaza through the Israelis’ use of hazardous and toxic munitions such as white phosphorous. The long-term effect of this is still being calculated in terms of its harmful impact on human beings, plants and animals. The environmental catastrophe affecting wildlife habitats in the OPTs is another way by which Israel is guilty of inflicting collective punishment on the Palestinians. This should not be overlooked by the international community and must be challenged before there is nothing left to save.

(uruknet.de / 20.10.2011)

Gaddafi dead: What next?

The report that the evasive Libyan ruler Colonel Muammar Gaddafi has died as a result of the wounds he sustained during a NATO attack has flung the Libyans into a jubilant frenzy while it has provoked mixed reactions from the political observers who may eye the event with reasonable degree of suspicion.

“He (Gaddafi) was also hit in his head,” National Transitional Council official Abdel Majid Mlegta told Reuters. “There was a lot of firing against his group and he died.”

Mlegta also revealed that Gaddafi had been wounded in both legs at dawn on Thursday while he was trying to escape in a convoy bombarded by NATO warplanes. Does this mean that the NATO forces who were sure that Gaddafi was in the convoy did not want him alive? If so, why would they want him dead? To the NATO forces, a dead Gaddafi would be better than a living one indeed. Another report however says that Gaddafi was hiding in a hole in the ground and had said “Don’t shoot, don’t shoot” to the men who grabbed him. Anyone without the need for a capacious memory can bring to mind the Iraqi dictator Saddam Hussein when he was shown coming out a hole in a similar manner.

That Gaddafi has been captured or killed does not make very much difference so long as NATO is seen as the victors in this arena.

Undeniably, the presence of US forces under the umbrella of NATO casts serious doubt on the ‘good intentions’ of the forces fighting shoulder to shoulder with the rebels to liquidate Gaddafi and root out the remnants of his decadent family.

Earlier, the US Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton had offered millions of dollars in new aid to Libya in a so-called token of goodwill, and had urged the new leadership in the country to commit to a retribution-free future.

“I am proud to stand here on the soil of a free Libya,” Clinton said on a Tuesday visit to the capital, Tripoli. “The United States was proud to stand for you in your fight for freedom and we will continue to stand with you as you continue this journey.”

But why is it that the good intentions of the US government are only lavished on oil-rich countries while Palestine was deplorably ignored by the US government when Israel started a three-week bombing and invasion in 2009 in an operation known to the Israelis as Operation Cast Lead and to the Palestinians as the Gaza Massacre during which Israel unleashed a bloodbath. According to reports, in January 2009, after seven days of bombing, some 9,000-10,000 Israeli troops made a brutal invasion of Gaza, killing over 1400 Palestinians with half of them being women and children. Over 3,300 were wounded, with an estimated 45 percent of them being women and children. What happened in Gaza was a merciless offence to the hearts, the minds and the ears. But, Washington was shamelessly silent. But where does all this strategic and political apartheid come from?

Conversely, the US is acutely alert to the developments in the region particularly in oil rich countries such as Libya.  Now with the reported death of Gaddafi, the US will be able to use this as a shortcut to achieve the ulterior motive it has been harboring: getting its hands on Libyan oil.

The value of Libya’s oil lies in its quality rather than in its quantity. The oil coming from Libya is generally described as sweet crude oil, which needs the least possible refinement while most oil coming from Saudi Arabia and other countries is of lesser quality.

The Cuban Revolution leader, Fidel Castro, has described NATO military campaign in Libya as a means for the US to invade and take control of the country’s oil.

In an article named “NATO’s Inevitable War,” Castro predicted that the military campaign of the US and NATO sprang from the sheer desire of getting “their hands on the northern African country’s oil”.

In a similar vein, US Congressman Dennis Kucinich blamed Washington for seeking to take control of Libya’s vast oil reserves by engaging in a military intervention.

“Was the United States, through participation in the overthrow of the [Libyan] regime, furthering the aims of international oil corporations in pursuit of control over one of the world’s largest oil resources?”

“Did the United States at the inception of the war against Libya align itself with elements of al-Qaeda, while elsewhere continuing to use the threat of al-Qaeda as a reason for US military intervention, presence and occupation?” he added.

He also blasted the US government for perpetuating a war the resources of which “should be spent creating jobs in America and in building bridges in America.”

Hugo Chavez, Venezuela’s president, has expressed a similar concern and said the intende goal of the US in invading Libya was to get oil.

He has reiterated that the United States is after the Libyan oil; the Libyan oil is driving them crazy. They were also after the Iraqi oil when they invaded that country.

Dead or alive, Gaddafi would hardly play a part in the developments the future has in store for the Libyan nation.

The question that arises here is: how can Gaddafi’s death benefit the Libyans on their path to democracy?

With the West consolidating their foothold in the country and the US carving out the fate of the Libyans, there leaves little room for a bright horizon for the country until the people unite together and decide for themselves.

(www.presstv.ir / 20.10.2011)

GADDAFI PLACED $97 BILLION ON TABLE TO FREE AFRICA FROM IMPERIALISM!

Why They Want Him, Dead!

The Picture: War on Libya is War on Entire Africa
Source: Reuters Edited By: Quoriana
Posted: 2011/07/27

In 2010 Gaddafi offered to invest $97 billion in Africa to free it from Western influence, on condition that African states rid themselves of corruption and nepotism. Gaddafi always dreamed of a Developed, United Africa and was about to make that dream come true – and nothing is more terrifying to the West than a Developed, United Africa.

Here is a selection of the initiatives Libya has already put in place in Africa, as well as some of the projects it is planning, explaining why the West’s illegal war against Libya also is a war against Entire Africa.

AFRICAN UNION: Libya is one of the biggest contributors to the budget of the African Union. A Libyan diplomat told Reuters Libya is one of five countries — the others are Algeria, Egypt, Nigeria and South Africa — which cover 75 percent of the Union’s budget. “Libya makes its full required contribution to AU funds. Not all countries do and that buys it influence,” a senior African Union official said.

MALI: For several years Mali has been confronted with the activities of the radical Islamist militia Al-Qaeda in the Islamic Maghreb in its northern deserts. Gaddafi’s money and diplomacy have helped to resolve conflicts in northern Mali between rebels and the government. In 2010 Libya has given Mali two security planes to combat insecurity in the north of the country. These conflicts could flare up again if Gaddafi exits the stage. Nowadays Gaddafi has many supporters in Mali who regularly march to protest against the Western-led military intervention in Libya.

CONGO: Libya has put $65 billion into sovereign wealth funds, including one which is specifically designed to make investments in Africa. The Libyan Arab African Investment Company, a vehicle of Libya’s Africa sovereign wealth fund, owns Le Meridien, one of the biggest hotels in Congo. The hotel is undergoing refurbishment paid for by Libyan investment. In 2010, Libya planned to fund the building of a highway north of Congo’s capital Brazzaville, where also the building of a mosque is planned.

LIBERIA: Libya has provided millions in investment projects, helping to strengthen the rule of President Ellen Johnson Sirleaf in one of Africa’s most impoverished nations. Gaddafi’s help includes the funding of a rubber processing factory built in Gbarnga, Bong County, a technical and vocational school for the handicapped, as well as Libyan assistance in helping Liberia tackle the food crisis and renovation for the Ducor Intercontinental Hotel.

NIGER: Also in Niger Gaddafi has helped to prop up the government and the authorities would become more fragile without his financial help. Libyan Prime Minister Al-Baghdadi Ali al-Mahmoudi visited Niger in August 2010 and announced the creation of a $100 million investment fund for Niger as part of a strengthening of bilateral ties. Under earlier agreements, Libya is contributing 100 million euros for the construction of a Trans-Sahara highway in the north of Niger, according to sources close to Niger’s foreign ministry. The local subsidiary of Libya Oil, along with Total, are the major players in Niger’s fuel retailing business.

CHAD: Gaddafi has been a key supporter of the government, which would weaken if it lost his aid revenue. Chad has been plagued by civil wars and invasions after its independence from France in 1960. After years of unrest, Gaddafi seals a peace agreement for Chad between four Chadian rebel groups and the Chadian government in 2007, which agreement was signed in Sirte.
In 2010 Libya made a huge investment in Chad’s National Telecom, which meant a boost of the number of the Chadian mobile phone users from 100,000 to two million.

CENTRAL AFRICAN REPUBLIC: Libya has helped to prop up the fragile government, sending paratroopers into the capital in 2001 to defeat a rebel assault. In 2008 Gaddafi played a role in the formation of a peace agreement between the government and rebel groups.

MAURITANIA: Gaddafi was the first head of state to visit after a 2008 coup which brought President Mohamed Ould Abdel Aziz to power. Aziz, who subsequently won a presidential election, has visited Gaddafi several times since then. Even Mauritanian opposition politicians have gone to Tripoli to pledge allegiance to the Libyan leader. Mauritania has debts to Libya of about $200 million. During discussions on debt relief in May 2010, the Libyan Central Bank announced Libya would provide $50 in grants to build a hospital and a university. The university is to be named after Gaddafi.

SUDAN: The 20,000-troop peacekeeping mission in Dafur, jointly supported by the African Union and the United Nations, could be hampered if the African Union (AU) loses funding from Gaddafi and destabilize the country. Gaddafi, who blamed the crisis in Darfur on Israel, made a number of attempts to broker peace talks between Darfur rebels and the Sudanese government.
In October 2010, Gaddafi warned ahead of a vote on possible independence for South Sudan that a partition of the country would be a “contagious disease” that could spread to other African states.

ETHIOPIA: The African Union, based in Ethiopia’s capital, could find itself in financial trouble if it loses the massive support that Gaddafi gives it. Under his rule, Libya supplied 15% of the AU’s membership dues, and it also paid the dues of many smaller and poorer African nations. To seek for a solution of the Eritrea-Ethiopia conflict, Gaddafi has sent a special envoy to Ethiopia in 2000. In 2008, Libya’s OiLibya bought Shell Ethiopia. This agreement also included retaining all Shell employees, who were hoping to work in a better environment since a long time

SOMALIA: The African Union peace keeping mission, whose 8,000 soldiers are crucial to the battle against Islamic radicals in Somalia’s capital Mogadishu, could be severely weakened if the AU lost the financial support of Gaddafi. In 2008 Libya decided to grant an investment fund to Somalia through the Sahel-Saharan Investment and Trade Bank to fund infrastructures such as roads and bridges within Somalia.

GAMBIA: Libyan firms own two hotels and the “Dream Park” entertainment centre in Gambia. Gambian agriculture has received support from Libya, including a donation of seven new tractors. In 2009 Gaddafi gave two camels to Gambian President Yahya Jammeh as a gift. The Libyan and Gambian presidents have exchanged visits and senior Gambian officials attended ceremonies in September to mark the anniversary of Gaddafi coming to power. On September 7, 2009, Gambia celebrated the 40th anniversary of the Al Fateh Revolution: “In Libya everyone enjoys Freedom!”.

(Tony Axtell / Facebook / 20.10.2011)

Egypt arrests Israeli national at border crossing

EL-ARISH, Egypt (Ma’an) — Egyptian authorities arrested a Palestinian citizen of Israel at the Egypt border Thursday, saying they discovered a weapon and large quantity of ammunition in his possession.

The Palestinian-Israeli, who was not otherwise identified, told Egyptian security forces he worked for an Israeli tourism company and was traveling with his wife to the northern Sinai city of Taba, officials said.

Forces discovered an American-made weapon when searching the man’s car as he entered Egypt via the Taba border crossing near the southern town of Eilat, Egyptian security officials told Ma’an.

The suspect was detained when he failed to  provide an adequate explanation for the weapon and ammunition, and has been transferred for investigation to facilities in southern Sinai, they said.

The arrest comes amid a breakdown in Israel-Egypt relations, although they have improved in recent days following Cairo’s successful mediation of a prisoner exchange deal with Hamas.

Egypt is also considering swapping a US-Israeli joint national, suspected of spying for Israel, for 81 Egyptians detained in Israel, the state-owned daily Al-Ahram said Sunday.

Israel enjoyed close ties with deposed President Hosni Mubarak, brought down in February in a popular uprising. Relations have remained tense as Egypt struggles to maintain security in the Sinai.

(www.maannews.net / 20.10.2011)

Asociale beleid kabinet tegenover 65+ met AOW & AIO!

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Aan de leden van de Commissie voor Sociale

Zaken en Werkgelegenheid

Utrecht, 30 september 2011

Ons kenmerk: 061-11HZ.HS

Geachte heer, mevrouw,

Graag richten wij ons tot u inzake het wetsvoorstel Geleidelijke afbouw van de dubbele heffingskorting

in het referentieminimumloon tot een keer de algemene heffingskorting met uitzondering van het

referentieminimumloon voor de Algemene Ouderdomswet (32777) en een aantal andere maatregelen,

die gezamenlijk een desastreus effect hebben op de inkomenspositie van allochtone ouderen met een

AOW-tekort.

Er zijn 2.920.900 AOW-ers in Nederland. Daarvan hebben er 525.660 een onvolledige AOW. Hun

aantal neemt de laatste jaren sterk toe. Van de ouderen met een onvolledige AOW hebben er

ongeveer 40.000 zo weinig of geen aanvullende inkomsten uit bedrijfspensioen dat ze zijn

aangewezen op de AIO. Negen van de tien AIO-ers zijn allochtone ouderen. De maatregelen die door

het kabinet-Rutte worden voorgesteld raken deze groep onevenredig.

Er staan vier maatregelen op stapel die tot gevolg hebben dat allochtone ouderen met een AOWtekort (en een AIO uitkering) aanzienlijk in inkomen achteruitgaan en het verschil in inkomen tussen

allochtone en autochtone AOW’ers sterk toeneemt.

Het gaat om:

– 1. afschaffing van de dubbele heffingskorting,

– 2. ontzegging van de koopkrachttegemoetkoming MKOB,

– 3. vervanging van de partnertoets door de gezinstoets en

– 4. vervanging van de ouderenkorting door een structurele verhoging van de AOW

Alsof deze ouderen daarmee nog niet genoeg geraakt zijn, wordt zonder steekhoudende reden ook de

maximale periode die zij in het buitenland mogen doorbrengen teruggebracht van 6 maanden naar 8

weken.  2

Ad 1 en2.

Als gevolg van het wetsvoorstel Geleidelijke afbouw van de dubbele heffingskorting in het

referentieminimumloon tot een keer de algemene heffingskorting met uitzondering van het

referentieminimumloon voor de Algemene Ouderdomswet (32777) raken ouderen met een onvolledige

AOW zowel de koopkrachttegemoetkoming MKOB als de dubbele heffingskorting kwijt. In de Memorie

van Toelichting rekent staatssecretaris De Krom voor dat alleenstaande ouderen hierdoor in 2012 €

440 (3¾%) kwijtraken en paren € 840 (5%) en er ook daarna op achteruit blijven gaan.

Als troost schrijft de staatssecretaris dat mensen met een AIO nog enigszins beter af zijn dan

bijstandsgerechtigden, omdat zij recht hebben op ouderenkorting. Dat lijkt hem ook gerechtvaardigd,

omdat deze ouderen tot aan hun overlijden aan het minimuminkomen vast zitten, maar toch geen

gebruik kunnen maken van de langdurigheidstoeslag.

Doel van de afbouw van de dubbele heffingskorting is om het voor bijstandsgerechtigden financieel

aantrekkelijker te maken om werk te accepteren. Dat argument kan echter niet van toepassing zijn op

oudere AOW-ers, want die hoeven niet meer te werken. De AIO zou uitgezonderd moeten blijven van

de afbouw van de dubbele heffingskorting. De argumenten voor die afbouw (groter verschil tussen

uitkering en minimumloon om arbeidsparticipatie te bevorderen), gelden immers niet voor

gepensioneerden.

Door de MKOB mee te nemen in de middelentoets van de AIO wil de regering voorkomen dat mensen

van 65 jaar of ouder die gebruikmaken van de bijstand, daar bovenop nog extra deze

koopkrachttegemoetkoming krijgen. De bijstand dient immers het laatste vangnet op het sociaal

minimum te zijn. De MKOB is nu juist bedoeld voor mensen die het qua koopkracht niet meer redden

en niet voor de mensen die naast hun AOW een hoog pensioen hebben en de MKOB blijven

ontvangen (zie ook het advies van de Raad van State).

Een aanvullend argument van de bewindspersonen op SZW is dat mensen die hier vlak voor hun

pensionering komen geen recht hebben op een uitkering op hetzelfde niveau als mensen die hun hele

leven in Nederland hebben gewerkt. Dat gaat echter niet op: van de mensen met een AIO-uitkering

heeft 60 procent 30 jaar of langer in Nederland gewerkt

1

.

Ad 3.

Krachtens de Wijziging van de Wet werk en bijstand en samenvoeging van die wet met de Wet

investeren in jongeren gericht op bevordering van deelname aan de arbeidsmarkt en vergroting van

de eigen verantwoordelijkheid van uitkeringsgerechtigden (32815) die naar verwachting op 1 januari

as. van kracht wordt zal de toets op het partnerinkomen worden vervangen door de toets op het

huishoudinkomen. Dit zal in de meeste gevallen betekenen dat ouderen die met hun werkende

kinderen samenwonen geen recht meer hebben op een AIO-uitkering en door hun kinderen moeten

worden onderhouden.

Ook hier is het argument dat het aantrekkelijker moet worden om te gaan werken en wel voor

bijstandsgerechtigden in gezinnen waarin meerdere personen een inkomen inbrengen. Opnieuw kan

dat argument niet van toepassing zijn op mensen met AIO-uitkering, want die zijn ouder dan 65 en in

het geval van de ouderen die door deze maatregel worden getroffen bovendien hulpbehoevend. Om

die reden wonen ze in de regel immers in bij hun kinderen.

Een onbedoeld en contraproductief effect van de wetswijziging is dat het onaantrekkelijk wordt

gemaakt om samen te wonen met je hulpbehoevende ouders, omdat die daardoor ongeveer de helft

van hun inkomen kwijtraken. Wat de staatssecretaris van VWS tracht te bevorderen (zorg vanuit de

eigen omgeving) wordt aldus door de staatssecretaris van SZW ontmoedigd, dan wel onmogelijk

gemaakt.

Ad 4.

Als wij het pensioenakkoord goed begrepen hebben komt die ouderenkorting te vervallen. Daarvoor in

de plaats komt een structurele verhoging van de AOW met 0,7% per jaar. Daar hebben ouderen met

 

1

Gegevens van de Sociale Verzekeringsbank. 3

een AIO echter niets aan, want wat zij er aan AOW bij krijgen gaat meteen van hun AIO af. Het

verschil tussen de AOW sec en de AOW + AIO wordt daarmee groter.

Kortom, bij al deze maatregelen is er sprake van klassieke indirecte discriminatie. Negen van de tien

AIO-gerechtigden is immers buiten Nederland geboren. Op dit punt zou u ons inziens advies moeten

worden gevraagd van de Commissie Gelijke Behandeling.

Wij willen u verzoeken om u bij de behandeling van de hierboven genoemde maatregelen rekenschap

te geven van het cumulatief effect voor een groep die behoort tot de een van de armste in ons land en

om deze groep van deze maatregelen te vrijwaren.

Graag verklaren wij ons bereid om onze zienswijze in een gesprek nader toe te lichten.

Hoogachtend,

Voor het Inspraakorgaan Turken

Aydın Akkaya,

voorzitter

Voor het Samenwerkingsverband van Marokkaanse Nederlanders

Farid Aza

Muammar Gaddafi killed as Sirte falls

Muammar Gaddafi has been killed after National Transitional Council fighters overran loyalist defences in Sirte, the toppled
Libyan leader’s hometown and final stronghold.

But questions remained on Thursday of the circumstances over Gaddafi’s death as footage appeared to show he had been captured alive.

“We have been waiting for this moment for a long time. Muammar Gaddafi has been killed,” Mahmoud Jibril, the de facto Libyan prime minister, told reporters on Thursday in Tripoli, the capital.

Asked what would be done with Gaddafi’s body, he said: “It doesn’t make any difference, as long as he disappears”.

Crowds took to the streets of Sirte, Tripoli and Benghazi, the eastern city that spearheaded the uprising against Gaddafi’s 42-year rule in February, to celebrate the news, with some firing guns and waving Libya’s new flag.

“I’m so proud now,” a Tripoli resident told Al Jazeera.”It’s a new era. Look to our eyes and you’ll see happiness, finally”.

Abdul Hakim Belhaj, an NTC military chief, said Gaddafi had died of his wounds after being captured.

Earlier, Abdel Majid, another NTC official, said the toppled leader had been wounded in both legs.

Son killed

Later on Thursday, the Libyan information minister said Gaddafi’s son Mutassim had been killed after hiding with his father.

“Mutassim is dead. I can confirm it,” Mahmoud Shammam told Reuters.

Earlier reports had suggested that he had been captured alive but injured.

The news came shortly after the NTC captured Sirte after weeks of fierce fighting.

Fighters flashing V for victory took to the streets in pick-ups blaring out patriotic music.

“Thank God they have caught this person. In one hour, Sirte was liberated,” a fighter said.

Al Jazeera’s Tony Birtley, reporting from Sirte, said Libyans there celebrating the beginning of a “new Libya”.

“This is bringing a form of closure,” he said. “Gaddafi stayed true to his words, that he would stay in Libya till the end.

“It was surprising to many that he did actually stay here in Sirte – it’s taken such a bombardment in the last 13 days. Nothing could survive in here for very long. I think they were starved of food, starved of ammunition, and finally there was nothing to do but to run”.

Saif al-Islam ‘arrested’

In Tripoli, Jibril said he had received unconfirmed reports that Gaddafi’s most prominent son, Saif al-Islam, was trying to flee from Sirte but had been tracked down by NTC fighters who were attacking his convoy. Later reports suggested that Saif had been injured and arrested.

Footage had emerged earlier in the day of the body of Abu Bakr Younus, Gaddafi’s defence minister.

Abdul Hakim Al Jalil, commander of the NTC’s 11th brigade, said that Moussa Ibrahim, the former spokesman for Gaddafi’s fallen government, had been captured near Sirte.

Ahmed Ibrahim, a cousin of Gaddafi, was also reportedly captured.

Reaction from world leaders was swift, with Ban Ki-moon, the UN secretary-general, saying Gaddafi’s death marked “a historic transition for Libya”.

“In the coming days, we will witness scenes of celebration as well as grief for those who lost so much,” Ban said in New York.

“Now is the time for all Libyans to come together. Libyans can only realise the promise of the future for national unity and reconciliation.”

The European Union said the death “marks the end of an era of despotism” and “repression from which the Libyan people have suffered for too long”.

(english.aljazeera.net / 20.10.2011)