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US Congress says acting Palestinian Authority chief Abbas is 'corrupt'

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© Unknown
Acting Palestinian Authority chief Mahmoud Abbas.
The US Congress has made allegations of corruption against acting Palestinian Authority chief Mahmoud Abbas, accusing him of taking advantage of his position.

The House Subcommittee on the Middle East held a hearing on the issue on July 10 titled "Chronic Kleptocracy: Corruption within the Palestinian Political Establishment."
The chairman of the committee, Ohio Congressman Steve Chabot, said that Abbas has reportedly taken advantage of his position to "line his own pockets as well as those of his... sons."

Footprints

Corruption Charges Fuel Move to Cut US Aid to PA

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© Flash 90
Mahmoud Abbas.
The Palestinian Authority said the Obama administration has warned it will cut aid if it goes to the United Nations again for recognition. In Congress, opposition to aiding the Palestinian Authority was fueled by charges that PA Chairman Mahmoud Abbas has "lined his pockets."

Khaled Mesmar, a Palestinian Authority official of the Political Committee of the Palestinian National Council, admitted on Tuesday that the United States has "threatened to cut off financial aid to the Palestinian Liberation Office in Washington if the Palestinian leadership submitted another membership bid to the United Nations."

He said the threat was delivered through official channels during a recent visit to Ramallah by an American envoy.

Magnify

Arafat's widow to file charges in France over Palestinian leader's unexplained death

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© AP
Yasser Arafat and his wife Suha hold hands prior to Arafat's departure from Ramallah, October 29, 2004.
Yasser Arafat's widow will launch a court case in France into the unexplained death of the iconic Palestinian leader eight years ago after a media report suggested he may have been poisoned, her lawyer said on Tuesday.

Allegations of foul play have long surrounded Arafat's demise in November 2004 after French doctors who treated him in his final days said they could not establish the cause of death.

The controversy was reignited by an Al Jazeera expose last week in which the Swiss Radiophysics Institute said it found "surprisingly" high levels of polonium-210 on Arafat's clothing - the same substance used to kill former Russian spy Alexander Litvinenko in London in 2006.

The Swiss institute said, however, that the symptoms described in the Palestinian president's medical reports were not consistent with the radioactive agent.

"Madame Arafat hopes that the authorities will be able to establish the exact circumstances of her husband's death and uncover the truth, so that justice can be done," lawyer Pierre-Olivier Sud said in a statement.

Footprints

Palestinians pressured not to seek international probe into Arafat's death

Yasser Arafat
© LV
Ramallah - The Palestinians' efforts to launch an international probe into the 2004 death of ex-leader Yasser Arafat face serious obstacles, a Palestinian official said Tuesday.

The obstacles stem from the opposition by some countries including the United States and France, the official said on condition of anonymity.

The United States has put pressure on the Palestinian leadership not to seek such an investigation because it can lead to some negative consequences on the Middle East peace process, which has been stalled since 2010, according to the official.

The amount of pressure mounted on the Palestinian leaders might foil their efforts to stage an international probe into Arafat's death, the official added.

Footprints

Spain unveils massive cuts amid protests


Spain has announced a $79.85bn austerity package that includes tax hikes and spending cuts a day after it won approval from its euro partners for a huge bailout of the country's stricken banks.

Prime Minister Mariano Rajoy told parliament on Wednesday the country's future was at stake as Spain grapples with recession, a bloated deficit and investor wariness of its sovereign debt.

He said the nearly $80bn in savings will be achieved through 2015 by a hike in sales taxes and a series of spending cuts through 2015.

Rajoy explained that the austerity measures were conditions European Union partners demanded in exchange for an emergency bailout of Spain's troubled banks.

He outlined cuts in unemployment benefit and civil service pay and perks in a parliamentary speech interrupted by jeers and boos from the opposition.

"These measures are not pleasant, but they are necessary. Our public spending exceeds our income by tens of billions of euros," Rajoy told parliament.

Footprints

SWAT Raid on Organizers of Occupy Seattle & E4E

Seattle apartment of organizers from the Occupy movement. The sleeping residents scrambled to put on clothes as they were confronted with automatic weapons.

The neighbor Natalio Perez heard the attack from downstairs: "Suddenly we heard the bang of their grenade, and the crashing as police entered the apartment. The crashing and stomping continued for a long time as they tore the place apart."

After the raid, the residents pored over the papers handed to them by a detective. One explained: "This warrant says that they were specifically looking for 'anarchist materials' - which lays out the political police state nature of this right there. In addition they were looking for specific pieces of clothing supposedly connected with a May First incident.

Stormtrooper

New York police attack Occupy Wall Street protesters near Zuccotti Park

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An Occupy Wall Street activist is arrested by New York police officers during a protest at Zuccotti Park in New York July 11, 2012.
American police forces have attacked and brutalized '99%' protesters and journalists during a rally near New York City's iconic Zuccotti Park, Press TV reports.

Eyewitnesses say officers of the New York Police Department (NYPD) were waiting in ambush for Occupy Wall Street protesters returning from the so-called Occupy Guitarmy 99 Mile March in Philadelphia on Wednesday.

At least two protesters were arrested and a woman was injured during the NYPD crackdown on the peaceful demonstrators.

The march was to have concluded at landmark Zuccotti Park when NYPD officers pounced on demonstrators and independent media reporters.

MIB

Russia moves to classify NGOs financed by other states as foreign agents

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A view of the State Duma lower house of parliament, in Moscow, on April 11, 2012
The US says it has been worried by a Russian bill that would force non-governmental organizations (NGOs) financed by other states to register as "foreign agents."

"The Russian people, like people everywhere, deserve the right to be heard and have a voice in government. That's why we've raised our concerns about the potential passage of this new NGO legislation," said Patrick Ventrell, a spokesman for the US Department of State.

The comments came after Russia's lower house of parliament, the State Duma, has passed the bill in its first reading.

The bill, if passed in the second reading of the state Duma on Friday, would force the NGOs to publish a report of their activities twice a year and carry out an annual financial audit.

Boat

Floating Base Gives U.S. New Footing in the Persian Gulf

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© Blake Midnight/U.S. Navy/AP
The Ponce, one of the Navy’s oldest transport ships, transits the Persian Gulf en route to Bahrain on July 4.
One of the Navy's oldest transport ships, now converted into one of its newest platforms for warfare, arrived in waters off Bahrain late last week, a major addition to the enlarged presence of American forces in the Persian Gulf designed as a counter to Iran.

The keel for the ship, the Ponce, was cast in 1966, and the vessel, nearing the end of its service, was to have been scrapped. But the Ponce was reborn as a floating forward base for staging important military operations across the region - the latest example of the new American way of war.

The first mission of the reborn Ponce was designed to be low profile and defensive, as an operations hub for mine clearing in the Strait of Hormuz, a counter to threats from Tehran to close the vital commercial waterway. In that role, the Ponce will be a launching pad for helicopters, a home to underwater diver teams and a seaborne service station providing fuel and maintenance for minesweeping ships.

But with the relatively simple addition of a modular barracks on the deck, the Ponce can also be a mobile base for several hundred Special Operations forces to carry out missions like hostage rescue, counterterrorism, reconnaissance, sabotage and direct strikes. Even with the addition of the barracks, there is ample room for helicopters and the small, fast boats favored by commandos.

Comment: This ship is also part of a larger group of ships (the US Fifth Fleet) in the Persian Gulf.


Attention

Hidden Government Scanners Will Instantly Know Everything About You From 164 Feet Away

Hidden Scanners
© Gizmodo.com
Within the next year or two, the U.S. Department of Homeland Security will instantly know everything about your body, clothes, and luggage with a new laser-based molecular scanner fired from 164 feet (50 meters) away. From traces of drugs or gun powder on your clothes to what you had for breakfast to the adrenaline level in your body - agents will be able to get any information they want without even touching you.

And without you knowing it.

The technology is so incredibly effective that, in November 2011, its inventors were subcontracted by In-Q-Tel to work with the US Department of Homeland Security. In-Q-Tel is a company founded "in February 1999 by a group of private citizens at the request of the Director of the CIA and with the support of the U.S. Congress." According to In-Q-Tel, they are the bridge between the Agency and new technology companies.

Their plan is to install this molecular-level scanning in airports and border crossings all across the United States. The official, stated goal of this arrangement is to be able to quickly identify explosives, dangerous chemicals, or bioweapons at a distance.

The machine is ten million times faster - and one million times more sensitive - than any currently available system. That means that it can be used systematically on everyone passing through airport security, not just suspect or randomly sampled people.