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Fri, 23 Jun 2017
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Israeli airline practice of asking women to swap seats for radical Orthodox Jewish men ruled illegal

© Ronen Zvulun / Reuters
Israeli airline El Al can no longer ask women to switch seats if ultra-Orthodox men object to sitting next to them, a court has ruled, after a case was brought by a Holocaust survivor who said she was humiliated after being asked to move.

The Jerusalem-based Israel Religious Action Center (IRAC), which was representing the plaintiff, announced the court's decision on Wednesday.

"Huge victory in IRAC's long fought battle against gender segregation in the public sphere - court tells El Al airline women do not need to move seats for men," the group, which is a public and legal advocacy branch of the Israel Movement for Progressive Judaism, said in a statement.

The court decision follows a lawsuit filed by 83-year-old Holocaust survivor Renee Rabinowitz. In 2015, a flight attendant on board an El Al flight from Newark to Tel Aviv asked her to move. According to the airline, it tries to make concessions to ultra-Orthodox men who cite religious beliefs in their requests not to be seated near any women other than their own wives.

Comment: Radical religious extremists incompatible with Western civilization? We guess so!

Now that Israel has made this tiny step towards moving out of the Middle Ages, how about they do something about Israeli apartheid? No, that's probably too much to ask.


The Soviets are back! Italian press pushes beyond the boundaries of Russophobia

Another masterpiece of Italian journalism: the Corriere della Sera quotes phantom "Soviet sources".

It was the hidden hope for all the oppressed of the World. Yesterday the nostalgic Corriere della Sera lifted everyone's hopes with the news ... The Great Soviet Union still exists! (Although no one has noticed it, either in Russia or elsewhere).

Another masterpiece of mainstream journalism has been delivered to us, this time by Corriere della Sera that in commenting on a "diplomatic" incident in the Baltic Sea between Moscow and Washington, quoted some ghostly and secret "Soviet sources".


Iranians chant 'death to Israel and America!' on Quds Day as Rouhani joins rally

© Nazanin Tabatabaee Yazdi / Reuters
Iran is hosting anti-Israel rallies across the country, with demonstrators taking to the streets to shout slogans against the Jewish state and to condemn the occupation of Palestinian land. The protests are part of the annual Quds Day holiday.

Quds Day, also known as Al-Quds Day, as a historic Arabic name for Jerusalem, is aimed at protesting Israel and Zionism, and to express support for Palestinians and the importance of Jerusalem for the religion of Islam.

State media reported that "millions" took to the streets in Tehran and other Iranian cities on Friday, shouting "Death to Israel."


Raqqa refugees to RT: 'US coalition bombs randomly hitting civilians rather than ISIS'

© Ruptly
Civilian casualties from the US-supported operation to retake Raqqa are mounting daily, while those fortunate enough to survive and flee the ISIS-held city have accused the American-led coalition of "haphazard" bombardment allied to the indiscriminate use of white phosphorus.

Strikes against Islamic State (IS, formerly ISIS/ISIL) terrorists in and around Syria's Raqqa province have been ongoing since November. On Wednesday alone, US-coalition forces conducted 14 strikes against IS "tactical units" in the area. But while the American-led coalition insists that it is targeting terrorist positions, civilians routinely end up dead or wounded.


At least 34 killed in Taliban claimed car bomb attack at bank in southern Afghanistan

Afghan men carry a victim of a powerful car bomb in Lashkar Gah on June 22.
Thirty-four people have been killed and 58 others wounded in a car bomb outside a bank in the southern province of Helmand, the provincial governor's office said.

Local officials said the bomb was detonated on June 22 outside the New Kabul Bank branch in the provincial capital, Lashkar Gah, causing casualties among civilians, staff of the New Kabul Bank branch, and members of the security forces.

The Taliban claimed responsibility for the attack, saying it was a suicide bombing.

President Ashraf Ghani called the perpetrators of the attack "enemies of humanity" who have "no respect for any religion or faith."


US-backed Thailand 'activists' freely allowed to complain about 'no freedom'

Thailand's English newspaper, The Nation, in a recent article titled, "Students stage protest to free 'Pai Daodin'" included a short video of the protest showing a handful of students blocking a particularly busy elevated walkway in central Bangkok as they read their message in English.

One "activist" exclaimed:
We will never stop until we are free!
She repeatedly demanded "freedom" and condemned what she repeatedly called a "dictatorship" apparently oblivious of the paradoxical fact that she and her fellow protesters were clearly "free" to disrupt hundreds of people attempting to use the walkway and go about their business during the brief political protest.


'Free wage' recipients in Finland report less stress and greater incentive to work

© Ints Kalnins / Reuters
Participants in Finland's universal basic income program say they are less stressed and more inspired to find a job than when they were receiving welfare.

Under the pilot program aimed at tackling unemployment, 2,000 people have been given €560 every month for two years. The participants are not obliged to start looking for a job or prove they need the money; they can spend it however they want.

A participant who finds work continues to receive the payment. This differs from the current system, where individuals stop receiving welfare once employed.

Comment: It will be interesting to follow up on Finland's brave social experiment. It is better to test a theory than to listen to all the "experts" saying how bad it is.


Inside the drug factory that is Afghanistan: 'World fails miserably to stop opium threat'

Opiate production in Afghanistan has shot up since the US-led invasion in 2001, leading addiction rates there to skyrocket. Meanwhile, the UN said this week that opioids are the world's "most harmful drug type." RT investigated the problem in Kabul.

Though only a tiny fraction of the opiates produced in Afghanistan are used domestically, the effects are devastating the local population. An RT crew found an infamous nest of drug addicts in a dry riverbed right in the middle of the Afghan capital, Kabul,

"Every day, it is getting worse - not better. More people become addicted," Layla Haidari, the founder of the 'Mother' association, which helps drug addicts, told RT, noting "I run two rehab centers - one for men, and one for women. Many of the women are mothers with children. I once treated a four-year-old addict."

"It's politics. The ministries, the politicians... authorities want poppy cultivation to continue," she said.


Busted: CIA contractors stole $3k worth of vending machine junk food, report says

© Paul J. Richards / AFP
Several CIA contractors were forced to stop working for the agency after they were busted for stealing more than $3,000 worth of snacks from vending machines through an elaborate scheme, according to documents obtained by BuzzFeed.

The thefts involved unplugging cables which connected each machine to an electronic payment system called FreedomPay, and then using "unfunded FreedomPay cards" to retrieve the snacks at no cost, according to a declassified Office of the Inspector General (OIG) report obtained by BuzzFeed.

The snack stealing began in the fall of 2012 and continued through March 2013, leading to thefts totaling an estimated $3,314.40.


UK police considering manslaughter charges in Grenfell Tower fire investigation

© Hannah McKay / Reuters
The fire that swept through Grenfell Tower in West London last week started with a faulty fridge freezer, and the outside cladding failed safety tests, police say.

Speaking to reporters at Scotland Yard, Metropolitan Police Detective Superintendent Fiona McCormack confirmed the force will consider manslaughter charges as part of its inquiry into the Grenfell Tower fire.

"We are looking at every criminal offence, from manslaughter onwards. We are looking at every health and safety and fire safety offences. And we are hearing every company involved in the building refurbishment of Grenfell Tower," she said.

Comment: Further reading: London politicians warned 'several times' about cladding fire risk to Grenfell Tower but ignored experts and residents