Abuse hearings streamlined to relieve increasing logjam at CDF

November 28th, 2014

15/11/14

Pope Francis has drawn up plans to make the appeals process for paedophile priests more efficient, writes Hannah Roberts.
The Holy See announced the creation of a new judicial body within the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith to consider appeals by priests who have allegedly molested children or committed other serious crimes.
The new body will consist of seven cardinals or bishops chosen by the Pope, who will tackle a ‘backlog” of alleged sex offenders wanting to appeal their cases.
The ordinary members of the Congregation only meet once a month so they were unable to get through the piles of child sex abuse appeals that were gradually mounting up, the Vatican said.
Meanwhile, Pope Francis has approved a new handbook on financial transparency.
The manual, intended to bring Vatican accounting in line with interna ional standards, was delivered
to all departments last week by the Scretariat for the Economy.

The Tablet

Illegal fishermen encroach on world’s most isolated tribe

November 28th, 2014

21/11/14; Survival International

Due to their isolation the Sentinelese of India’s Andaman Islands are the most vulnerable society on the planet. They face increasing threats from illegal fishermen who are targeting their waters. © Indian Coastguard/Survival
Survival International, the global movement for tribal peoples’ rights, has received worrying reports that illegal fishermen are targeting the waters around the island home of the uncontacted Sentinelese tribe on India’s Andaman Islands.
Seven men identified as Burmese fishermen were apprehended by the Indian Coast Guard near North Sentinel Island earlier this month. Worryingly, one man was reportedly found on the island itself, in close proximity to the uncontacted tribespeople.
The Sentinelese are the most vulnerable society on the planet and reject any contact with outsiders. Due to their complete isolation, they are likely to have no immunity to common diseases such as flu and measles and the chances of them being wiped out by an epidemic are very high.
Survival International has welcomed the authorities’ swift action in apprehending the illegal fishermen around North Sentinel and urges them to remain vigilant. It also calls for an end to the daily intrusions into the forest of the neighboring Jarawa tribe as a matter of urgency.
The Jarawa are forced to endure “human safaris” – hundreds of tourists passing through their forest on a daily basis in the hope of spotting a member of the tribe – as well as poachers stealing their game. Earlier this year, it was revealed that Jarawa women are being sexually abused by poachers who lure them with alcohol and marijuana.
Survival’s Director Stephen Corry said today, “The Great Andamanese tribes of India’s Andaman Islands were decimated by disease when the British colonized the islands in the 1800s. The most recent to be pushed into extinction was the Bo tribe, whose last member died only four years ago. The only way the Andamanese authorities can prevent the annihilation of another tribe is to ensure North Sentinel Island is protected from outsiders.”
http://www.scoop.co.nz/stories/WO1411/S00219/illegal-fishermen-encroach-on-worlds-most-isolated-tribe.htm; Read this online: http://www.survivalinternational.org/news/10556

Solomon Islands Reform Efforts Get $5 Million Grant (2

November 28th, 2014

24/11/14; World Bank Group

The World Bank’s Board of Executive Directors today approved US$5 million for the Economic Reform and Recovery Development Policy Operation which will support continued economic and financial reform and provide rapid financing to deal with the impacts of the severe flooding which hit the nation in April 2014.
The operation supports a program of targeted policy reforms to improve the management of public expenditure and debt; strengthen the administration of the mining sector and its associated revenues; and foster healthy regulatory conditions for private sector investment.
“The Solomon Islands Government is dedicated to a course of sustained reform to deliver improved standards of public finance management and better conditions for private investment,” said Mr. Fred Fakari’i, Permanent Secretary of the Solomon Islands Ministry of Finance. “The Solomon Islands’ recovery following the events of April 2014 is well underway and we look forward to continuing to work with the World Bank to maintain momentum.”
The operation will ensure the momentum of the Government’s program of economic reforms, while also providing funds for flood recovery and rehabilitation. Specific policy changes will target the revision of guarantees to State-Owned Enterprises and transparency in awarding scholarships for tertiary education; greater transparency of the mining industry and the streamlining of the mining tax regime; and establishment of a land board to improve governance of urban land and bolster private sector investment.
“We are working with the Solomon Islands Government to ensure the long-term resilience of their economy through reforms that will ultimately boost shared prosperity and improve the living standards of the nation’s most vulnerable people – many of whom were affected by the April 2014 floods,” said Franz Drees-Gross, Country Director for the World Bank in Timor-Leste, Papua New Guinea, and the Pacific Islands.
The grant of US$5 million from the World Bank’s International Development Association (IDA) includes US$2 million from the Crisis Response Window (CRW) – the World Bank’s special fund for use following exceptionally severe natural disasters and regional economic shocks.

http://www.scoop.co.nz/stories/WO1411/S00249/solomon-islands-reform-efforts-get-5-million-grant.htm

Solomon Islands’ Efforts to Combat Rural Poverty Get US$9 Million Boost from World Bank (1)

November 27th, 2014

21/11/14; Honiara
The World Bank’s Board of Executive Directors today approved US$9 million to support the second phase of the Solomon Islands Rural Development Program (RDP II), one of the Government’s main instruments to address rural poverty. More than 350,000 People Expected to Benefit
RDP II aims to alleviate rural poverty and provide social and economic opportunities in rural areas through activities that will expand community infrastructure and services, and strengthen the linkages of smallholder-farming households to markets.
“The first phase of the Rural Development Program has shown that rural communities across the country can and will work together to manage their own development,” said Anne Tully, World Bank Country Representative for Solomon Islands.“This second phase of the Rural Development Program will leverage the resources of the private sector to bring services to farmers, strengthen agriculture value chains, and increase rural incomes.”
Specifically, the program will build on and refine the community-driven development grants and services developed during the first phase of the Rural Development Program; assist farming households to engage in productive partnerships with commercial enterprises; build the capacity of the Ministry of Agriculture and Livestock to deliver its core functions of regulation, research and sector coordination; and deliver funds to ensure the effective overall management of the finance, procurement, evaluation and environmental safeguards components of the program.
RDP II is expected to provide benefits to approximately 65,000 households – approximately 357,500 people, or 65 percent of the national population of 550,000 people. The majority of these households (about 48,000) will benefit from improved community-driven rural services including water supply, health and education facilities, transport, and energy. Approximately 17,000 smallholder farming households, agribusiness owners and other contributors to agriculture value-chains will also benefit from investments to improve agricultural productivity, marketing, and ultimately, incomes.
The grant of US$9 million from the World Bank’s International Development Association (IDA) includes US$4 million from the Crisis Response Window (CRW) – the World Bank’s special fund for use following exceptionally severe natural disasters and regional economic shocks. CRW funding will be used to repair or rebuild small-scale infrastructure, agriculture and livestock assets damaged or lost in the April 2014 floods.
The project will be implemented through the Ministry of Development Planning and Aid Coordination and the Ministry of Agriculture and Livestock.

http://www.scoop.co.nz/stories/WO1411/S00248/solomon-islands-effort-to-combat-rural-poverty-9-mil-boost.htm

West Papua: 11 activists arrested, 1 shot

November 27th, 2014

24/11/14; Press Release: Indoleft; Bintang Papua

Jayapura – On Wednesday November 19 West Papua National Committee (KNPB) member Ansalmus Pigay suffered a gunshot wound to his right leg after security forces broke up a KNPB demonstration calling for the separation of Papua from the Unitary State of the Republic of Indonesia (NKRI) in Moenamani, the capital of Dogiyai sub-district in the Papuan central highlands.
In addition to injuring one person, police also arrested 11 KNPB members. Papua regional police public relations chief Senior Commissioner Pudjo told the Antara news agency in Jayapura on Thursday that based on reports received the incident began with a demonstration by around 300 KNPB members in Moanemani.
Security personnel from the Kamu sectoral police (Polsek) assisted by members of the Kamu sub-district military command (Koramil), the 753 infantry battalion (Yon 753), mobile police (Brimob) and the Air Force’s Special Forces (Paskhas TNI-AU) had already tried to pursuade the protesters to disband.
Pudjo said however that appeal was not heeded and after the sound of gunshots were heard security personnel fired warning shots. Pigay was hit by a rubber bullet and is currently being treated at the Enarotali public hospital.
qPudjo said that the 11 KNPB members who were arrested were Elias Anauw, Marthen Mote, Agus Waine, David Pigai, Marthen Pigome, Paul Marthen Edoway, Alpos Edoway, Stepanus Goo, Ferdinan Pekey, Wiliam Pigai and Thomas Waine. In addition to the arrests, police also seized five KNPB flags and other material evidence.
When asked about the identity of the shooter, Pudjo said that they have not yet been able to ascertain who the perpetrator is. “The head of the Professionalism and Security Affairs Division, Senior Commissioner Bambang will lead the investigation in Dogiyai in order to confirm who fired the shots”, said Pudjo. (ant/don/l03)
Source: http://bintangpapua.com/index.php/lain-lain/k2-information/halaman-utama/item/18525-demo-knpb-dibubarkan-11-diamankan-1-luka [Translated by James Balowski for the Indoleft News Service.]

http://www.scoop.co.nz/stories/WO1411/S00254/west-papua-11-activists-arrested-1-shot.htm

Mistreatment of refugees by Malaysian authorities (3)

November 27th, 2014

23/11/14; Al Jazeera

Chained and handcuffed, refugees say they are beaten, starved, and exploited by authorities
• Al Jazeera’s 101 East films exclusive footage inside a Malaysian detention centre, where refugees are chained and handcuffed
• Claims by present and former detainees of abuse, beatings and lack of food
• Speaks to UNHCR official who admits they are overwhelmed; says Malaysia must do more
Doha, 19 November: In this undercover investigation, Al Jazeera’s 101 East Senior Presenter and Reporter Steve Chao discovers horrendous conditions and mistreatment of refugees by Malaysian authorities. He also unearths claims that UNHCR staff – those tasked with helping refugees – are involved in corrupt dealings.
In Malaysia, refugees have no legal protection because the country has not signed the UN Convention recognising refugees. This means they can be arrested at any time and hauled off to one of the country’s notorious detention centres. Malaysia’s capital, Kuala Lumpur, has one of the world’s largest urban populations of refugees and asylum seekers, with approximately 150,000.
To investigate conditions inside these centres, Steve Chao poses as a priest after authorities decline his many requests to film inside these facilities.
Chao encounters refugees chained and handcuffed, and others who haven’t eaten for days. He discovers refugees are kept in cells in the overcrowded centres for almost 24 hours a day. He also finds children in detention – a violation of the UN Convention on Child Rights; and meets women detained just hours after giving birth.
Detainee: “Every week, we’re allowed out just once…”
CHAO: “They don’t let you exercise or walk around a bit?
Detainee: “No… all day, every day we’re inside. In one room there are about 100 people…”
One former detainee describes being beaten with a steel pole:
Asylum seeker from Myanmar: “The hardest thing I faced in jail was being forced to take my clothes off and then being beaten, slapped and kicked in front of others.”
Malaysian authorities admit that abuse does happen in their centres but insists conditions are better than in many other countries.
101 East uncovers how UNHCR workers are overwhelmed by people seeking help, with more than 1000 refugees and asylum seekers arriving every day at its Kuala Lumpur compound.
Richard Towle, who leads the UNHCR mission, tells Al Jazeera: “We’re like an accident and emergency hospital, not a general hospital. In an accident and emergency hospital you make tough decisions all the time about triaging and prioritising who is the neediest of the people in an already needy group of people.”
101 East also discovers an illegal trade in UNHCR registration cards, perpetrated by local UNHCR representatives. A UN translator tells Al Jazeera: “All the money from this activity goes into the pockets of some top guys in the UN.…We have been doing this with him for a long time. We are thieves, and we look for thieves above us.”
For more information, and to watch the program online after broadcast, go to :http://www.aljazeera.com/programmes/101east/2014/11/malaysia-unwanted-20141118111742722400.html

What are the effects of Obama’s immigration action? (2)

November 27th, 2014

211/11/14; Inside Story Team @AJInsideStoryAM

“Our immigration system is broken, and everybody knows it,” said President Barack Obama in an address to the nation on Thursday. He promised an estimated 4 million undocumented immigrants a chance to stay in the U.S., for now, through new executive actions.
His actions will grant:
Undocumented parents the ability to stay if their children are U.S. citizens or green card holders and have lived in the U.S. for at least five years.
Easier access for high-tech workers to enter and stay in the U.S.
Changes to border control enforcement, focusing on unauthorized immigrants who crossed the border in the past year, those with criminal records and those who have ties to gangs or extremist networks.
Obama has been taking heat for months for his deportation policies and for not taking executive action on immigration. Last year a comprehensive reform bill passed by the Senate died in the House.
House Republicans have favored a piecemeal approach, tackling issues like border security, high tech visas and a streamlined adjudication system with separate pieces of legislation.
House Speaker John Boehner’s reaction to the plan was swift and not surprising. He said, “We will not stand idle as the president undermines the rule of law in our country. With this action, the president has chosen to deliberately sabotage any chance of enacting bipartisan reforms that he claims to seek.”
According to the latest polls by NBC News and The Wall Street Journal, the U.S. public seems closely divided on the topic, with 48 percent of respondents saying they don’t support the move and 38 saying they do; 14 percent said they had no opinion.
Obama signed the executive actions at Del Sol High School in Las Vegas on Friday afternoon. The site had political significance, since Nevada is home to Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid and has a large Hispanic population. Also, the high school is where Obama unveiled his vision for immigration reform shortly after he was sworn in for a second term.
We consulted a panel of experts for the Inside Story; OUR ON-AIR PANEL OF EXPERTS; Jorge Narvaez, immigration activist; Arturo Sarukhan, former Mexican ambassador to the U.S.; Laura Vazquez, legislative analyst, National Council of La Raza

http://america.aljazeera.com/watch/shows/inside-story/articles/2014/11/21/what-are-the-impactsofobamasexecutiveactiononimmigrationreform

Obama’s executive action is about labor policy, not just immigration (1)

November 27th, 2014

21/11/14; E. Tammy Kim @etammykim

The executive action announced by President Barack Obama Thursday night is as much a game changer for labor policy as immigrationchanger for labor policy as immigration. He will give some 5 million undocumented workers — the people who “pick our fruit” and “make our beds” — the chance to apply for work authorization and relief from deportation. This represents nearly half the country’s estimated 11.2 million undocumented population, 8.1 million of whom are in the workforce.
Building on his controversial decision to grant deferred action (DACA) to undocumented “childhood arrivals,” an incomplete substitute for the failed federal DREAM act, Obama is now attempting a far more expansive program. The three main categories of beneficiaries: parents of U.S. citizens or legal permanent residents with at least five years’ continuous presence and a larger pool of DACA applicants. The action also increases funding for border patrols and raises the pay of certain immigration-enforcement agents.
Republicans have vowed to block and overturn Obama’s measures, what they see as an unconstitutional exercise of power, when they take full control of the legislature in January. But Obama argues that his executive strategy is both lawful and necessary in the face of Congressional inaction: The House has long refused to consider the bipartisan immigration bill that the Senate approved last year.
“To those members of Congress who question my authority to make our immigration system work better, or question the wisdom of me acting where Congress has failed, I have one answer: Pass a bill. I want to work with both parties to pass a more permanent legislative solution,” the president said.
Labor-market impacts
But backers and opponents of the White House plan agree on one thing — that this historic grant of work authorization is significant both for individual workers and the national labor market.
“Having Social Security numbers and work authorization is going to be huge in terms of workers feeling safe to go to work, fighting wage theft and taking more pay home,” said Haeyoung Yoon, an attorney at the National Employment Law Project. DACA recipients surveyed by the University of Southern California in 2013 reported “a pronounced increase in economic opportunities, such as getting a new job, opening their first bank account, and obtaining their first credit card.”
At a macro level, workers with deferred action may feel more comfortable joining or forming unions and other labor organizations, advocates say. “For undocumented folks, it’s difficult to organize because of fear,” said Adriana Escandón, a worker organizer with New Immigrant Community Empowerment in Queens, New York. “Having work authorization would help in terms of having that legality, though it doesn’t mean the conditions at work are any better.”
Ira Mehlman of the Federation for American Immigration Reform believes the president’s plan will hurt the prospects of job-seekers born and raised in the U.S. “By giving everybody work authorization, you’re increasing the pool of American workers who might be affected by illegal immigrations who take jobs in this country,” he said. “You can be compassionate and understand why people violate laws, but the people who say we have to make concessions ignore how it affects people here.” Jon Feere at the Center for Immigration Studies adds that heavy concentrations of undocumented labor, particularly in a time of high unemployment, can depress wages, though the research on this point is mixed.
The human rights group Families for Freedom questions the executive action on other grounds. “It’s a massive guestworker program. Business people are probably saying, ‘Go for it, Obama,’ so we have a surplus of labor. That means labor can be exploited more,” said organizer Donald Anthonyson. Underscoring Obama’s record-setting depor-tation numbers, he said, “We don’t stand for deportation of some. We stand for deportation of none.”
Work permit, not status
Labor unions were instrumental in convincing the president to issue an executive action, insiders say. Contrast this with 1986, when the AFL-CIO, the country’s largest union confederation, joined big business groups to support the so-called “employer sanctions” law making it a crime to hire anyone lacking work authorization. The AFL-CIO has since reversed course (along with the U.S. Chamber of Commerce) to bill itself as a proponent of “equal rights for all workers,” including the foreign-born. Over the same period, unions have supported the efforts of non-profit “worker centers” focused on organizing low-wage domestic workers, taxi drivers, day laborers, retail clerks and, most recently, fast-food workers.
One industry-specific provision the unions pushed for — a process making it easier for high skilled, entrepreneurial immigrants to stay — made it into Obama’s plan. But other proposals did not: There will be no special consideration for farmworkers, a peripatetic labor force considered particularly vulnerable by some. Nor will there be deferred action for workers co+mplaining of wage violations or other unlawful employer conduct, despite the efforts of advocates like Josh Stehlik, a lawyer at the National Immigration Law Center in Los Angeles.
Attorneys familiar with White House discussions believe the deferred-action program will roll out in stages, beginning with a spring pilot, then a larger group over the summer. The application could mimic that for DACA, which requires a fee of $465 and proof of continuous presence. Stehlik worries that some low-wage undocumented workers will have difficulty assembling such evidence, given their tendency to live and work in the informal economy. Alina Das, a clinical law professor at New York University, has a more basic concern: that thousands of otherwise eligible immigrants will be barred from applying due to past criminal convictions.
With two years of DACA applications and renewals under their belt, “DACAmented” youth and immigration lawyers are getting ready for this next round of deferred action. They will prioritize community outreach and warn hopeful immigrants about immigration fraudsters. “The thing with [deferred action] that we need to make clear is that, while you get a work permit and are low priority for deportation, it’s not a status. You can’t travel. You can’t petition for people,” said Natalia Lucak of New York Legal Assistance Group.
Even so, those who have benefited from DACA wish Obama’s executive action would go farther. “What we’re concerned with is that our parents will be left out,” said Jeff Louie, a recent college graduate who works as a graphic designer with DACA work authorization.
– “My family is different because my brother’s a citizen and my parents are green-card holders, … but what about the [undocumented] parents of people with DACA?”
Louie and his friends, many from mixed-status families, are realistic. “I think we have zero expectations. It’s a ‘don’t get our hopes up’ kind of thing.”

http://america.aljazeera.com/articles/2014/11/21/executive-order-aboutlaborpolicynotjustimmigration.html

Rome learns a new language

November 27th, 2014

15/11/14

Pope Francis showed his faith once again in the “God of surprises with the appointment last Saturday of Archbishop Paul Gallagher as the Holy See’s Secretary for Relations with States the equivalent of aVatican foreign minister.
The Liverpool-born archbishop, currently nuncio to Australia, will be the first Englishman and native English speaker to hold such a position (unless you count British born Spaniard Cardinal Rafael Merry del Val, a former Secretary of State…
The Archbishop has admifted that these events and inquiries have overshadowed his time in Australia. “I think the Vatican shares the view of the Australian bishops that it is necessary to make efforts to grasp the truth so that necessary action can be taken to ensure with confidence that we are doing everything possible to protect the and prevent further abuse,” he told the Melbourne Herald Sun last year.
Earlier this year, however, Archbishop Gallagher was named in a report by the UN Committee against Torture which expressed concern that he had cited diplomatic immunity when asked to hand over documents requested by the Maitland-Newcastle investigation. After initially resisting requests the nunciature in Australia handed over the documents at the end of last year.
Diplomatic sources said the archbishop would not have decided to withhold the documents but would have been acting on instructions from Rome. Archbishop Gallagher has said that the Vatican is ready to responce to any “legitimate request” from state inquiries presented through diplomatic channels and subject to international agreements. Away from such a sensitive area, the archbishop has proved popular in Australia with his informal style. Among other accomplishments, he has been photographed with a baby crocodile in Queensland, spoken to young people in a pub about suffering and travelled the country extensively. He now takes up a demanding post at the heart of the universal Church at a time of increasing instability across the world and with a Pope whose message and style are both commanding global attention.

The Tablet

UN-backed reconstruction efforts set to kick-off in Gaza (3)

November 27th, 2014

23/11/14; UN News

The next phase in reconstruction efforts for war-ravaged Gaza is slated to begin as early as next week following an updated “understanding” between Israeli and Palestinian stakeholders, the United Nations special envoy in the region has announced.
In a statement released today, the UN Special Coordinator for the Middle East Peace Process, Robert Serry, hailed what called a “further understanding” to the trilateral agreement between Israel, the Palestinian Government of National Consensus, and the UN, permitting some 25,000 home owners in Gaza to access building materials for the repair of their homes damaged in the recent 51-day conflict there.
“They will be able to procure the materials to repair or rebuild their properties in the same locations where they were located prior to the conflict,” Mr. Serry explained in his statement, adding that special precautions are also being implemented to avoid any misuse of the UN-backed reconstruction mechanism or diversion of materials for belligerent purposes.
“Materials procured under the mechanism may only be used for their intended purpose,” he continued. “The United Nations will undertake spot checks to monitor compliance.”
According to a recent UN assessment, as it stands now, over 100,000 homes were damaged or destroyed, affecting more than 600,000 people. Many people still lack access to the municipal water network. Blackouts of up to 18 hours per day are common.
In addition, the violence killed more than 2,100 Palestinians, including more than 500 children, and more than 70 Israelis.
Mr. Serry emphasized the UN’s commitment to assisting the Palestinian Government of National Consensus in its reconstruction efforts through direct financial support to homeowners in need. But, he added, existing resources were largely insufficient, particularly as pledges made at last month’s Cairo International Conference and amounting to about $2.1 billion were slow to arrive.
“The Special Coordinator calls on all parties concerned to lend their full support to enable the mechanism to operate at the required scale in the interests of the affected population in Gaza,” the statement said.

http://www.scoop.co.nz/stories/WO1411/S00236/un-backed-reconstruction-efforts-set-to-kick-off-in-gaza.htm

Jerusalem attacks likely do not portend a third Palestinian intifada (2)

November 27th, 2014

18/11/14; Dalia Hatuqa @DaliaHatuqa

A deadly attack by two Palestinian men armed with axes and guns on a Jerusalem synagogue on Tuesday has quashed Israeli and Palestinian political leaders’ hopes for a restoration of calm in the city. Tamping down confrontation was the goal of the emergency summit in Jordan late last week, which produced a restrained Israeli approach to policing Jerusalem’s Al-Aqsa mosque compound and a lull in weeks of clashes there between Israeli forces and Palestinian protesters.
But unrest continued elsewhere in the West Bank through the weekend. At the Hizma checkpoint — mainly used by Israeli settlers entering Jerusalem from the northern West Bank — a few dozen Palestinian protesters were met on Friday with a significant police and army presence. Forces lobbed stun grenades at the Palestinians, who gathered to demand what they called their “right to get to Jerusalem” and attempted to stop settlers from entering the city’s occupied east.
Earlier, the same group used makeshift ladders and ramps to scale a section of Israel’s separation wall made of large concrete slabs, close to the Qalandiya airport, which has not been used for more than a decade. Once across, they managed to cut the razor wire around the deserted tarmac. A few hours later, a second group of Palestinians was confronted with tear gas at the Qalandiya checkpoint as a demonstration erupted following prayers. Two days later, Jerusalem ignited again over the suspected lynching of a Palestinian bus driver.
For months, scenes like these have unfolded across the West Bank. Since July at least 17 Palestinians have been killed — several of them young unarmed teens shot in clashes with Israeli forces. In Jerusalem a series of deadly knife attacks and hit-and-run car attacks have killed at least 11 Israelis, including a baby, a border policeman and a soldier.
The car attacks and stabbings occurred at an alarmingly high frequency, prompting media speculation about a new intifada, or uprising against Israeli occupation of the Gaza Strip and West Bank, including East Jerusalem. Some have already labeled it the third intifada. Others have called the latest wave of attacks a car intifada, with viral memes — portraying a steering wheel as a rifle and a gas pedal as a magazine — spreading on social media.
The attacks were also the subject of a song, “Run Over the Settler,” written and performed by two local Palestinian musicians and posted on YouTube. The song, set to Arabic pop music, starts off with a reference to a 5-year-old Palestinian girl, Inas Shawkat, who was killed in a hit-and-run incident by an Israeli settler in the West Bank on Oct. 19.
“We took revenge for her death, and for your sake, Aqsa, we will run over settlers,” goes the song by Anas Jaradat and Mohammad Abu al-Kayed. “People don’t need weapons anymore. They are fighting with their cars.”
Most of the men carrying out the car and knife attacks were said to be politically affiliated, and various Palestinian armed groups have praised their actions, but none have explicitly claimed responsibility for what have been widely termed lone-wolf acts, which are difficult for Israeli authorities to control or curb.
These sporadic actions are measures taken by people who have nothing left to lose, said Jibril al-Rajoub, a former security chief in the West Bank and now head of the Palestinian National Soccer Federation. “Frustration, disappointment, losing hope in the future is a syndrome of what’s [happening] on the ground,” he said. “Wherever you move, you face settlements, checkpoints, humiliation, and living conditions in East Jerusalem are different from the western part.”
Unlike the second intifada from 2000 to 2005, these attacks do not seem to be led by anyone or orchestrated by any group, said Hanan Ashrawi, a PLO member. “Acts taking place in response [to the Israeli occupation] are individual actions. There is no policy. There is no body coming out and saying, ‘Let’s react.’ Israel has succeeded in provoking every single Palestinian.”
Talk of another intifada is deeply troubling to Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas, who — since assuming Yasser Arafat’s mantle as leader of the PLO a decade ago — has pursued a strategy of negotiations to end Israel’s military occupation of Palestinian territories. So far he has limited his response to the recent escalation in violence to calls for maintaining the status quo on the Aqsa compound, upon which Israel has placed heavy restrictions. Israel currently bars Jews from worshipping at the mosque compound, which many contend is built on the site of an ancient Jewish temple.
“Israel’s leaders are making a huge mistake if they think they can now establish facts on the ground and divide prayer times at Al-Aqsa mosque as they did at Al-Ibrahimi Mosque [in Hebron],” Abbas told Palestinians gathered at the presidential compound in Ramallah on Nov. 11 for the 10-year commemoration of Arafat’s passing. “By doing these things, they are leading the region and the world into a devastating religious war.”
But Abbas is facing increasing pressure to address the occupation more directly, not only from the disgruntled Palestinian street but also from within his Fatah party. Last week Marwan Barghouti, a senior Fatah leader who has been in an Israeli prison for more than 10 years after being convicted on multiple murder charges arising from his role in the second intifada, released a message calling “resistance” the “shortest path to freedom, ending occupation.” Barghouti suggested the Palestinian Authority (PA) reconsider its role and support activists’ efforts to promote a boycott of Israel — a tactic that, despite gaining widespread international support, the PA has largely ignored.
Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu responded to Abbas’ remarks about a “religious war” by accusing him of “incitement.” But Israeli security officials have acknowledged that close coordination with Abbas’ government was key to maintaining stability in the occupied territories. In fact, the principle role of the PA’s security force, formed after the Oslo Accord in 1993, has been to quell anti-occupation protests.
Palestinian forces have frequently quashed protests that erupted for economic reasons or over mounting frustration with the political stalemate and disgruntlement over the security coordination with Israel — which continued unabated even during the height of the Gaza war in July and August .
That coordination continues despite some of the worst unrest in years and no prospect of an end to the occupation for the foreseeable future.
For example, the PA routinely apprehends Palestinian militants in the West Bank at Israel’s request and transfers them to Israel for prosecution. Such practices have led many Palestinians to characterize the PA’s coordination with Israel as collaboration.
But not even the PA’s policing role — whether in the form of physical force or intelligence gathering — has been able to shield Israel from the recent spate of attacks in Jerusalem. Because of their spontaneous nature, acts by Palestinians from the West Bank (the stabbing of an Israeli soldier in Tel Aviv on Nov. 10 was, for example, carried out by a man from Nablus’ Askar refugee camp) have proved difficult to anticipate by Palestinian intelligence officials, who often share information on imminent threats with their Israeli counterparts.
Under mounting pressure from Palestinians, PA officials have threatened on a number of occasions to end security coordination with Israel.
“We need to redefine our bilateral relations with the Israeli occupying power,” Rajoub said. “As long as he continues bullying [us], Netanyahu will not deserve to behave with him as a partner or as a neighbor. Which means that all bilateral relations and channels will be closed in all fields. He [cannot] enjoy both security and settlements at the same time.”
Fear of a domestic political backlash has so far restrained the PA from deploying its forces to stop youngsters from hurling stones and fireworks at Israeli soldiers. Instead, the PA has focused its rhetoric on plans to head to the United Nations Security Council to submit a draft resolution on an end-of-occupation deadline.
If the United States uses its veto in the Security Council or if the council’s nine votes are not secured, Palestinian officials said they would join more international organizations, including the International Criminal Court — which could bring unwelcome scrutiny of Israel.
“[There] are [many] ways of resisting the occupation,” Ashrawi said. “Popular nonviolent resistance or civil disobedience or even going to the U.N. and having recourse to international law. Going to U.N. is not a threat … This is part of our strategy. It’s not something negative. It’s a way to try and rescue any chance for peace.”
But some argue that Abbas’ security coordination with the Israelis will not disappear, no matter how strained bilateral relations get.
“The security coordination with Israel is sacred, and that’s unacceptable for most Palestinians,” said Mazin Qumsiyeh, a Bethlehem-based activist and university professor. “The PA is trying to squeeze through a tough time back to where it started — back to the path of Oslo, which most people realize is a dead end.”
He said a “crystal ball” would be needed to know whether tensions will eventually give way to a full-fledged intifada, but he acknowledged that it may prove difficult for one to arise because of the intra-Palestinian political divide and a lack of a supportive political leadership. “The pressure is building as a pressure cooker builds steam,” Qumsiyeh said. “Acts of individual violence that we see are merely a symptom of this unsustainable system.”

http://america.aljazeera.com/articles/2014/11/18/why-talk-of-a-thirdpalestinianintifadaispremature.html

Israeli Cabinet approves Jewish nationality bill (1)

November 27th, 2014

23/11/14

Israel’s Cabinet on Sunday approved a contentious bill that officially defines Israel as the nation-state of the Jewish people. The bill still needs to be passed in parliament to become a law, but the latest move may further inflame tensions with Arab Israelis and Palestinians. It could also shake up Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s coalition government due to the fierce opposition of two of his more centrist partners.
The bill calls for recognizing Israel’s Jewish character, institutionalizing Jewish law as an inspiration for legislation, and delisting Arabic as an official language. Opponents say the bill undermines Israel’s democracy, and rights groups have called it racist. Arabs make up about 20 percent of Israel’s population and strongly oppose the bill.
Netanyahu on Sunday also called for a bill that would revoke residency rights for Palestinians involved in attacks against Israelis, in response to a wave of deadly violence.
“It cannot be that those who harm Israel, those who call for the destruction of the state of Israel, will enjoy rights like social security,” Netanyahu told his Cabinet, adding that the measure would “complement” Israel’s controversial policy of demolishing Palestinian attackers’ homes. The measures were billed as a deterrent, but some critics view them as racist policies that could further escalate tensions.
Tensions spilled over to the West Bank on Sunday when a Palestinian family’s home was torched in an attack they blamed on Jewish settlers. Israeli police said they were investigating.
In Gaza, meanwhile, Palestinian health officials said Israeli troops shot dead a 32-year-old farmer after he approached the border. Israel’s military said it fired warning shots before shooting at two suspects approaching the border, hitting one of them in his lower body. It would be the first fatality in Gaza since a cease-fire ended last summer’s war.
Israel has vowed to respond harshly after a raid on a Jerusalem synagogue last week in which two East Jerusalem Palestinians killed five people with guns and meat cleavers. Israel has already resumed its policy of demolishing Palestinian attackers’ homes.
Meanwhile, a spokeswoman for an Israeli mayor who suspended work by Arab laborers over the violence said that work will resume on building bomb shelters in kindergartens next week, but that children would be moved to other locations in the city of Ashkelon during the construction.
Israel captured east Jerusalem in 1967 and annexed it in a move not recognized internationally. While few of the city’s 300,000 Palestinians have taken citizenship, their residency grants them access to social services and freedom of movement.
The Associated Press; http://america.aljazeera.com/articles/2014/11/23/israel-cabinet-jewishlaw.html

Outrage at’blasphemy’ killings

November 27th, 2014

15/11/14

Cardinal Taurjin, president of the Pontifical Council for Interreligious Dialogue has called for the international community to pressurise the Government of Pakistan to review its blasphemy law after a young Christian couple were burned alive by a mob in Punjab province on 4 November, writes Ellen Tirugue.
Shahzad Masih and his pregnant wife, Shama Bibi, parents of four young children, were beaten, had their legs broken and were thrown into thrown in front of thousands of people at Kot Radha Kishan after rumours
They desecrated the Qur’an.
“I am shocked by the immense barbarity of this act,” Tauran said. Cardinal Vincent Niclols, president of the Catholic Bishops’ Conference of England and Wales, and the Bishop of Wakefield, the Revd Tony Robinson, lit candles and prayed in St Anne’s Cathedral in Leeds on Tuesday for the couple and their unborn daughter.
The British Pakistani Christian Association is organising a rally outside 10 Downing Street on 22 Noveniber from 1l a.m. to I p.m.

The Tablet

Royal Commission: Hutchins School employee told to hang up on callers asking about alleged abuse

November 27th, 2014

Tyson Shine. 24/11/14

An employee at the private Hobart boys’ school at the centre of a sexual abuse inquiry was told to hang up on some people calling about alleged abuse. A royal commission is investigating the way the Hutchins School handled sexual abuse claims relating to a paedophile ring that operated at the school in the 1960s. Documents released to the commission outline an instruction for a member of the Hutchins staff to “hang up” on some people calling for information.
A victim, known only as AOA, first approached the school in 1993 to get an apology for abuse he had allegedly suffered under paedophile headmaster David Lawrence in the 1960s. After almost a decade of fighting for an apology, AOA took his complaint public in February 2002 by publishing an open letter about his sexual assault in The Australian newspaper.
In its second week of sittings in Hobart, the commission will hear from the immediate past headmaster of the prestigious Anglican school, William Toppin, known as Bill Toppin. Mr Toppin is expected to be questioned over the memo which outlined how staff should deal with people calling about the letter in the newspaper.
In part, the directions said: “It is possible we will get people masquerading as media … if you are being ‘heavied’ and they won’t go away, you should hang up on them and you will have my support in this matter.”
Last week, the commission heard from Mr Toppin’s predecessor, who denied the school cared more about its reputation than it did about former students who claimed they were victims of sexual assault.
Legal advice to limit correspondence
Legal recommendations to limit correspondence with AOA are also expected to be examined.
AOA wrote to Mr Toppin several times in the 1990s and 2000s. “Maybe now is a better time to approach you and ask you to accept the validity of my report of sexual assault,” AOA wrote. “It sounds a simple request but the journey so far has been fruitless.”
AOA had been denied an apology after he first approached the school in 1993. “Clearly my report … is not enough to establish a conclusion that I was assaulted … in effect I have been told by the School Board to get lost,” AOA wrote.
Mr Toppin forwarded the new request for apology to the school’s board, who in turn forwarded it to the school’s lawyers. Lawyer Michael O’Farrell wrote back to the school and said: “I would be inclined not to take any further action.”
The lawyer acknowledged Hutchins might want to take a more active approach with AOA. “The concern which I have with that approach is that, quite some time ago, Dr Isles [a psychiatrist Hutchins got to examine AOA’s 1993 correspondence] suggested that Mr AOA would continue to grind his axe,” he wrote. “I expect that continued correspondence will simply exacerbate the situation and provide Mr AOA with a tool by which to keep grinding.”
AOA was not given an apology until just one month before the commission’s public hearings, 20 years after he first raised the allegations. The commission will hear from current headmaster Warwick Dean and Anglican Bishop John Harrower later this week.

https://au.news.yahoo.com/a/25589324/royal-commission-hutchins-school-employee-told-to-hang-up-on-callers-asking-about-alleged-abuse/

Chaput statement clarified,

November 27th, 2014

USA; 15/11/14; James Roberts

Kenneth Gavin, director of communications at the Archdiocese of Philadeiphia, has issued a statement clarifying remarks made by Archbishop Charies Chaput in the context of the Synod on the Family, in which he said “confusion is of the Devil’.
At the “First Things” Erasmus lecture on 20 October in New York, the archbishop was asked to comment on the synod.
He replied: “Well, first of all, I wasn’t there. That’s very signifycant, because to claim you know what really happened when you weren’t there is foolish. To get your information from the press is a mistake because they don’t know well enough how to understand it so they can tell people what happened. I don’t think the press deliberately dis-torts, they just don t have any background to be able to evaluate things.
“In some cases, they’re certainly the enemy and want to distort the Church. Having said all that, I was very disturbed by what happened.
I think confusion is of the Devil, and I think the public image that came across was of confusion.”
Mr Gavin pointed out that this comment by Archbishop Chaput, made in the question-and-answer session after the lecture, “was a criticism of those who used the reports coming out of the synod out of context to reinforce their own opinions and agendas”.

The Tablet

Baby Ferouz case back in court on appeal

November 27th, 2014

AAP; 24/11/14

An appeal will be heard for a baby born in Brisbane to asylum-seeker parents, who is seeking the right to apply for a protection visa.
Baby Ferouz’s appeal will be heard in the Federal Court in Brisbane on Monday morning after the same court last month decided in a test case the one-year-old boy was an unauthorised maritime arrival. The ruling means babies born in detention like Ferouz will not be able to claim refugee status.
Ferouz, who was born in Brisbane’s Mater Hospital, has just spent his first birthday living in detention in Darwin, having spent his entire life in detention centres on the Australian mainland.
Maurice Blackburn senior associate Murray Watt said the situation was becoming more critical for baby Ferouz and the 106 other Australian-born babies the firm acting for, all of whom are living in detention. “We respectfully believe that an earlier court decision was wrong, in finding that Ferouz came to Australia by sea, because he was, in fact, born in Brisbane,” Mr Murray said in a statement.
“This is an important test case that, at its heart, is only arguing for these babies to be given a fair go, and to be offered protection by Australia.” Mr Watt said the Senate would also soon consider amendments to the Migration Act, which would see babies born in Australia to asylum-seeker parents taken to Nauru and Manus Island.
Ferouz’s family, including his father, then-pregnant mother Latifar and two siblings, arrived on Christmas Island in September last year, fleeing persecution as minority Rohingyas in Myanmar (Burma). But laws introduced last year meant asylum seekers who arrived by boat after July 19 were denied the right to claim protection visas.

https://au.news.yahoo.com/a/25591387/baby-ferouz-case-back-in-court-on-appeal/