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Star of David

Protestors stage 'die-in' at Israel Discount Bank in Manhattan

Israel Discount Bank protest
© Observer
The windows of IDB on 5th Avenue were defaced this afternoon by demonstrators protesting the war in Israel and Gaza.
It was not a normal summer Friday for the employees of the Israel Discount Bank, on 511 5th Avenue.

According to tweets, various employees (who wish to remain anonymous), and emails obtained by the Observer, the bank's windows were attacked and smeared with fake blood as pro-Hamas demonstrators staged a "die-in" on the sidewalk in front of the bank.

An employee of IDB who works at 511 but cannot give his or her name without authorization said in an email obtained by the Observer, "This afternoon, there was [an] anti-Israel protest of about 30 people in front of Israel discount bank ... They defaced the front windows and sidewalk with fake blood. The employees were holed up inside and the doors were locked. No police presence beforehand."

According to another source, "one of the IDB security guards was splashed with paint on the back of his shirt." The Observer later learned that the security guard who'd been painted has the first name James.
Arrow Up

Thousands gather in Times Square to protest against Israeli slaughter in Gaza

New York protests Gaza
© AFP Photo / Getty Images / Spencer Platt
Demonstrators in lower Manhattan protest against Israel's recent military campaign in Gaza on July 24, 2014 in New York City.
New York was awash with protesters on Friday, as thousands came out in support of more than 880 Palestinians killed in Israel's Gaza offensive. There are increasingly deep fault lines between pro-Palestinian and pro-Israel supporters worldwide.

Anywhere from 2,000 to 3,000 demonstrators flooded the streets around Times Square, with the police keeping a watchful eye on the crowds, who waved Palestinian flags and signs condemning Israel and criticizing US aid to the Jewish state, Reuters reported.

"We're trying to break the siege and end the killing in Palestine. We just want them to live like human beings," said Ramsay Jamal, an American of Palestinian descent, who protested with his eight-year-old son on his shoulders. The child held a banner with the words - 'Israel, I'm just a kid. Please don't kill me', with a child's hand prints in red paint around the words.

Police brutality strikes again! Ali Shahi, Sunwing threat suspect, is mentally ill: family

© Alain Alphonso
Police come on the Sunwing flight to deal with an 'unruly passenger' who threatened the security of the plane.
Flight from Toronto to Panama City made emergency landing after man allegedly made threats.

A man charged with allegedly making "direct threats" aboard a Sunwing flight from Toronto to Panama City on Friday morning has a history of mental illnesses that weren't properly addressed by police and the health system, family members say.

Ali Shahi, a 25-year-old Canadian, faces several charges after Flight 772 made an emergency landing at Toronto's Pearson International Airport. It was escorted by two U.S. F-16 military jets.

"I am sorry for what happened on the flight, but Ali is not at fault," his father Shadegh Shahi said. "I blame the police and health system. We called the police for help more than 23 times in the last two to three years, but unfortunately they did nothing to help us or help my son."

Shahi became agitated when he found out the price of cigarettes on the flight was about 25 cents cheaper than what he paid at the airport and wanted to be reimbursed for the difference, family members told CBC News.

Police State made in Canada: Toronto SWAT team storms plane, arrests man

A passenger captured dramatic cell phone video of a Canadian SWAT team storming onto a Sunwing flight at Toronto's Pearson International Airport Friday. The video shows the police tactical team swarming onto the plane with their weapons drawn, yelling at passengers to get their hands up, and forcefully removing a 25-year-old man from the aircraft.

The airline said the Panama-bound plane was forced to return to Toronto Friday morning about 45 minutes into the flight after a passenger, identified by authorities as Ali Shahi, made a "direct threat against the aircraft."

Witnesses told CNN affiliate CTV that Shahi said he wanted to bomb Canada.

Air Algerie plane wreckage photos

One day after Air Algérie Flight AH5017 crashed en route from Burkina Faso to Algeria in a desolate part of northern Mali with 118 people on board, the first images of the plane's wreckage began to emerge on Friday.
Indeed! It appears that the aircraft has disintegrated!
- The wreckage of flight AH5017 was spotted late on Thursday in Mali by a French military drone. It crashed just after passing the Burkinabe border as it headed north to Algiers and was carrying 118 people, including 54 French citizens. An earlier count of 51 French nationals was revised to include dual citizens.

- The crash left no survivors, said French President François Hollande. He added that one of the black box flight recorders had been recovered and would be analysed.

Monsanto to pay $93 million for poisoning small town residents with Agent Orange chemicals

© unknown
Big wins can happen in small places. The West Virginia State Supreme Court finalized a big blow to the biotech giant Monsanto this month, finishing a settlement causing Monsanto to pay $93 million to the tiny town of Nitro, West Virginia for poisoning citizens with Agent Orange chemicals.

The settlement was approved last year, but details were worked out only weeks ago as to how the funds were to be spent.

The settlement will require Monsanto to do the following:
  • $9 million will be spent to clean dioxin contaminated dust from 4500 homes.
  • $21 million will be spent to test to see if people have been poisoned with dioxin.
  • Citizens will be monitored for such poisoning for 30 years, not just a few months.
  • An additional $63 million is to be allotted if additional tests for dioxin contamination testing is necessary.
  • Anyone who lived in the Nitro area between Jan. 1, 1948, and Sept. 3, 2010 will be tested for dioxin. Although they must show proof they lived in the area, they will be eligible for testing even if they no longer live in Nitro.
  • Former or present employees of Monsanto are not eligible for any of these benefits.
  • An office will be set up to organize testing for Nitro citizens. The registration of participants is to be overlooked by Charleston attorney Thomas Flaherty, who was appointed by the court.
  • Residents have a right to file individual suits against Monsanto if medical tests show they suffered physical harm due to dioxin exposure.
Arrow Down

Police turn blind eye to Swedish 'slave trade'

Slave Trade
© TT
Police in Gothenburg have confirmed that sex trafficking in the city has developed into a full-blown slave trade - but that they lack the resources to do anything about it.

Gothenburg police busted a large Romanian pimping network in 2011, but it wasn't long before new brothel-keepers from various countries took over.

Now the problem is back with a vengeance, with police admitting they lack the resources to address it - and are thus forced to ignore the reports.

"We haven't worked with the issue at all for a year now," Stefan Adamsson, police officer in the Gothenburg trafficking unit, told The Local. "We would need to be three times as many police to be able to do anything about it."

Newspaper Expressen reported earlier this week that human traffickers had gone from "just" selling sex to selling women as lifelong slaves.

The newspaper's sources said the cost for a slave - "for life" - is €2,000 ($2680). For 700 kronor ($100) one can rent a couple of girls for a day, for cooking, cleaning, or anything else. "Do what you like with them," one seller reportedly said.

"It has really always been a form of slave trade," Adamsson told The Local. "It's just a different name. Some are sold to work and some are sold for work, but they are just different forms of human trafficking."

Human trafficking is an acknowledged problem in large Swedish cities, with well-established red-light districts in Stockholm, Gothenburg, and Malmö. However, there are no clear statistics on how widespread the black-market business actually is as much of the trade is conducted online.
Stock Down

Sanctions against Russia smack German economy

The United States and Europe last week announced the imposition of stronger sanctions against Russia in response to the ongoing crisis in Ukraine. German industry may be among the losers.

Companies like oil producer Rosneft -- here, a Rosneft drill site in eastern Siberia -- have been slapped with US sanctions. That has created problems for German companies.
It wasn't that long ago that Kremlin officials could hardly avoid laughing when asked about the economic sanctions imposed on Russia by the West. As long as every NATO member state jealously sought to protect its own business interests, things "weren't all that bad," they gloated.

But since last week, their moods have darkened. For months, the European Union in particular had been reluctant to enact effective penalties against Moscow. Last Wednesday, though, the 28 EU heads of state and government cleared a psychological hurdle: For the first time, they opted go beyond sanctions targeting individual political leaders in Moscow, adding prohibitions against doing business with specific Russian companies that contribute to the destabilization of the situation in Ukraine. A concrete list is to be presented by the end of the month. European development banks have also been banned from providing loans to Russian companies.

The US, for its part, penalized a dozen leading Russian conglomerates, including oil giant Rosneft, natural gas producer Novatek, Gazprombank and the weapons manufacturer Kalashnikov. From now on, they are forbidden from borrowing money from American monetary institutions and from issuing medium- and long-term debt to investors with ties to the US.

'Google must not be left to censor history' - Wikipedia founder Jimmy Wales

© Reuters / Baz Ratner
The power to "censor history" should not be left in Google's hands, Wikipedia Founder Jimmy Wales warned, after the search engine giant revealed it had approved over 90,000 so-called 'right to be forgotten' requests.

Wales said a European Court ruling allowing people to have links scrubbed from the search engine's index was "open-ended." He further slammed the law for being unclear.

"The law as it stands right now is quite confusing. We have this one ruling of the ECJ (European Court of Justice) which is very open-ended and very hard to interpret," he told BBC Radio 4's Today program.

Paris bans pro-Palestinian protest after recent violence

Gaza my love
© AFP Photo/Kenzo Tribouillard
A protester wearing a Guy Fawkes mask hold a sign reading "Gaza my love" as others carry Palestinian flags during a demonstration in Paris to denounce Israel's military campaign in Gaza on July 23, 2014
French police have banned a protest against Israel's Gaza offensive that was due to take place in Paris on Saturday, following several similar rallies that turned violent.

The ban, announced by police on Friday, comes in the wake of clashes earlier this month at pro-Palestinian demonstrations, in which some protesters shouted anti-Semitic slogans and fought with police.

Comment: Protesting against the Israeli war crimes is not anti-semitic. Paris decided to place a ban on protests instead of investigating the cause of clashes. Sad state of affairs.

Two of those rallies had been banned but went ahead anyway.

Following Friday's announcement, French Interior Minister Bernard Cazeneuve appealed on organisers to cancel the rally.