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Tue, 31 Jan 2023
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Star of David

Swiss institute finds polonium-210 in Arafat's effects

fatah flag
© REUTERS/Mohamad Torokman
A Palestinian boy holds a Fatah flag during an event marking the 7th anniversary of the late Palestinian leader Yasser Arafat in the West Bank city of Ramallah November 16, 2011.
Traces of the poisonous element polonium have been found in the belongings of late Palestinian President Yasser Arafat, a Swiss institute said on Wednesday, and a television report said his widow had demanded his body be exhumed for further tests.

Arafat died at a hospital in France in 2004, after a sudden illness which baffled doctors. Many Palestinians have long suspected he was poisoned.

Darcy Christen, spokesman for the Institut de Radiophysique in Lausanne, Switzerland, told Reuters on Tuesday it had found "surprisingly" high levels of polonium-210 in Arafat's belongings.

But he stressed that clinical symptoms described in Arafat's medical reports were not consistent with polonium-210 and that conclusions could not be drawn as to whether the Palestinian leader was poisoned or not.

The Qatar-based Al Jazeera satellite channel said the institute had tested Arafat's personal effects, given them by his widow.


Love Liberty? You Might be a Terrorist

© Mark Wilson/Getty Images/AFP
A person carries an American flag while marching in favor of the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act in front of the U.S. Supreme Court.
Are you suspicious of federal authority? How about really into individual liberty? Well according to a new study funded by the US Department of Homeland Security, you very well might be a terrorist.

A report published earlier this year by the National Consortium for the Study of Terrorism and Responses to Terrorism (START) at the University of Maryland has surfaced, and in their DHS-funded findings, Americans "reverent of individual liberty" and others adamant about protecting their personal freedoms are categorized as extreme right-wing terrorists.

In the paper, Hot Spots of Terrorism and Other Crimes in the United States, 1970-2008, researchers used definitions from another START study, 2011's Profiles of Perpetrators of Terrorism, to characterize what traits should be considered when describing right-wing terrorists. Both papers were funded with grants from the US Department of Homeland Security provided to START.

Although the authors of the paper note that the study's findings do not necessarily represent the opinions of START of the DHS, the website PrisonPlanet.com notes that the organization was started with the aid of $12 million of Homeland Security funds. The latest report is described by its authors as the latest part in a series of studies sponsored by the Human Factors/Behavioral Sciences Division, Science and Technology Directorate and the US Department of Homeland Security in support of the Counter-IED Prevent/Deter program.


Special Investigations Unit clears Toronto police officer who punched Occupy protester in the face

© CTV photo
Angela Turvey was arrested after clashing with police outside 361 University Avenue courthouse where Occupy Toronto had tents erected.
Ontario's police watchdog has cleared a Toronto police officer who says he punched an Occupy Toronto protester in the face during an arrest.

The Special Investigations Unit says it's unclear whether the force was "excessive," when considering the level at which Angela Turvey was resisting arrest.

The SIU says Ms. Turvey, 37, had a broken nose, a black eye and required seven stitches above her right eye, but it wasn't clear whether the injuries were from the punch or her head hitting the ground during arrest.

Star of David

Israel Crowns Miss Holocaust Survivor 2012

Israel has crowned Miss Holocaust 2012. Her name? Hava Hershkovitz. Hundreds of survivors in their 70s, 80s and 90s took part in the event in Haifa, held "to celebrate life and survival."


And the Palestinians, will they get their own beauty pageant too?

What a disgusting caricature of humanity Israel represents.

Arrow Down

Wal-Mart: 50 Years of Gutting America's Middle Class


Movie poster detail from the documentary, Walmart: The High Cost of Low Price.
Walmart's explosive growth has gutted two key pillars of the American middle class: small businesses and well-paid manufacturing jobs

Sam Walton opened the first Walmart store in Rogers, Arkansas, 50 years ago this month. Sprawled along a major thoroughfare outside the city's downtown, that inaugural store embodied many of the hallmarks that have since come to define the Walmart way of doing business. Walton scoured the country for the cheapest merchandise and deftly exploited a loophole in federal law to pay his mostly female workforce less than minimum wage.

That relentless focus on squeezing workers and suppliers for every advantage has paid off since July 1962. Walmart is now the second-largest corporation on the planet. It took in almost half-a-trillion dollars last year at more than 10,000 stores worldwide.

Walmart now captures one of every four dollars Americans spend on groceries. Its stores are so plentiful that it's easy to imagine that the retailer has long since reached the upper limit of its growth potential. It hasn't. Walmart has opened over 1,100 new supercenters since 2005 and expanded its U.S. sales by 35 percent. It aims to keep on growing that fast. With an eye to infiltrating urban areas, Walmart recently introduced smaller "neighborhood markets" and "express" stores.


New Tests Show Yasser Arafat Poisoned with Radioactive Polonium

© Unknown
“[W]e shall discover ourselves in peace more than we have with war and confrontation, as I am sure that the Israelis in turn shall find themselves in peace more than they have found it in war.” —Yasser Arafat, Nobel Peace Prize Lecture, 1994
Yasser Arafat, Palestinian leader and Nobel Peace Prize Laureate, died mysteriously on November 11, 2004.

Now, a nine-month investigation by Al Jazeera revealed Tuesday that Arafat was in good health until he suddenly fell ill on October 12, 2004.

[...] tests reveal that Arafat's final personal belongings - his clothes, his toothbrush, even his iconic kaffiyeh - contained abnormal levels of polonium, a rare, highly radioactive element. Those personal effects, which were analyzed at the Institut de Radiophysique in Lausanne, Switzerland, were variously stained with Arafat's blood, sweat, saliva and urine. The tests carried out on those samples suggested that there was a high level of polonium inside his body when he died.

"I can confirm to you that we measured an unexplained, elevated amount of unsupported polonium-210 in the belongings of Mr. Arafat that contained stains of biological fluids," said Dr. Francois Bochud, the director of the institute.


Some Outrageous Facts about US Inequality

© AP/Mark Lennihan
A homeless person sits under blankets at a Wall Street subway station in New York City.
Studying inequality in America reveals some facts that are truly hard to believe. Amidst all the absurdity a few stand out.

1. U.S. companies in total pay a smaller percentage of taxes than the lowest-income 20% of Americans.

Total corporate profits for 2011 were $1.97 trillion. Corporations paid $181 billion in federal taxes (9%) and $40 billion in state taxes (2%), for a total tax burden of 11%. The poorest 20% of American citizens pay 17.4% in federal, state, and local taxes.

2. The high-profit, tax-avoiding tech industry was built on publicly-funded research.

The technology sector has been more dependent on government research and development than any other industry. The U.S. government provided about half of the funding for basic research in technology and communications well into the 1980s. Even today, federal grants support about 60 percent of research performed at universities.

IBM was founded in 1911, Hewlett-Packard in 1947, Intel in 1968, Microsoft in 1975, Apple and Oracle in 1977, Cisco in 1984. All relied on government and military innovations. The more recently incorporated Google, which started in 1996, grew out of the Defense Department's ARPANET system and the National Science Foundation's Digital Library Initiative.

The combined 2011 federal tax payment for the eight companies was just 10.6%.


Nicolas Sarkozy's home raided by French police

Detectives investigating alleged illegal campaign-financing by L'Oreal heir Liliane Bettencourt search Carla Bruni's mansion

French police have raided the home and offices of the former French president Nicolas Sarkozy as part of an investigation into illegal campaign financing and alleged brown envelopes of cash from France's wealthiest woman, the L'Oreal hairspray heiress Liliane Bettencourt.

Police searched the mansion rented by Carla Bruni in a chic gated community in the west of Paris, where she and Sarkozy live with Bruni's 11-year-old son and the couple's new baby daughter. Officers also searched the office of the legal firm where Sarkozy is a partner and the new office he moved into after losing the presidential election to Socialist Francois Hollande in May.

The Sarkozys were not present as they had left for a Quebec chalet holiday on Monday, Sarkozy's lawyer said.

As president, Sarkozy had judicial immunity which protected him from legal investigations, but this expired on 16 June.


Propaganda Alert! Psychologically disturbed Syrian state TV reporter 'defects'

© Guardian
Ghatan Sleiba, who told Western authority figures what they wanted to hear, that 'the rebels' aka al Qaeda are in control of much of eastern Syria... before backtracking and saying they were in "quasi-control"... which really means they are totally out of control massacring civilians at will.
Ghatan Sleiba, from the pro-Assad al-Dunya channel, says he has been providing intelligence to the rebels for months

A presenter from the Syrian regime's main television channel has defected to the opposition and revealed he has been secretly providing intelligence to rebels for the past seven months.

Ghatan Sleiba, who worked for both the state-owned al-Akhbariya network and the al-Dunya channel, is believed to be the first high-profile defector from Damascus's powerful propaganda arm. "I am the first and I will probably be the last," he told the Guardian in southern Turkey. "There are some others who also want to run, but there are more who love the regime from the depths of their hearts."

In military defections on Monday, a Syrian general from an artillery division and seven officers were among dozens of soldiers, mostly serving in Homs province, who also fled to Turkey, a Syrian activist and Free Syria Army sources told Reuters.

Comment: The al-Jazeera guy sussed him out. This Ghatan Sleiba is about as trustworthy as someone you'd find locked in a mental institution.


France next on the economic hit list? 'Austerity looms large for France'


The 'world economy' in a nutshell
Despite the French president's campaign pledge to avoid implementing harsh austerity measures, a report says his government is in dire need of cutting jobs and implementing economic reforms to achieve a European deficit target.

According to a report by France's national audit office on Monday, Paris needs to come up with EUR 33 billion (USD 42 billi
on) in savings next year to meet its European deficit goal of three percent of gross domestic product.

This comes as auditors have already noted in an in-depth review that the state requires EUR 6-10 billion (USD 7.6-12.6 billion) in budget savings in 2012 to reach the deficit target of 4.4 percent of the GDP.

Officials have warned that "2013 is a crucial year" as France "is in the danger zone in terms of its economy and public finances."