Calls Grow for ‘European Arms Embargo’ on Israel After Dutch F-35 Ruling

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Original article by JULIA CONLEY republished from Common Dreams under Creative Commons (CC BY-NC-ND 3.0). 

A protester occupies the roof of Howmet Fastening Systems in Leicester, U.K., which makes components for Israeli F-35s, in October 2023.  (Photo: Palestine Action)

“Surely it’s time to stop all arm shipments to Israel,” said one British lawmaker, “and implement targeted sanctions against members of the Israeli leadership.”

While the White House has claimed U.S. President Joe Biden is growing increasingly “frustrated” with Israel’s bombardment of Gaza—largely made possible by U.S. military aid—calls are growing in Europe for governments to halt arms exports to stop their own contributions to the mass killing.

After a Dutch court ordered the Netherlands to stop exporting F-35 fighter jet parts to Israel on Monday, ruling that the country was running a “clear risk” of helping Israel to violate international human rights law, several British lawmakers intensified their demands that the U.K. also halt arms exports.

“Selling arms to Israel for its war on Gaza is incompatible with U.K. and international law,” said Diane Abbott, a Labour Party member in British Parliament. “[Prime Minister Rishi] Sunak should follow suit and ban weapon sales to Israel.”

Natalie Bennett, a member of the Green Party in the British House of Lords, spoke on Tuesday about six-year-old Hind Rajab, whose body was found last week in a car in which her family members had tried to flee Gaza City. The car was riddled with bullet holes, and an ambulance nearby, which paramedics had sent to rescue Hind, had been bombed.

“Is the government challenging the Israeli government about risks to hundreds of thousands of children in Rafah, now in the path of the Israeli offensive?” said Bennett. “Surely it’s time to stop all arm shipments to Israel… and implement targeted sanctions against members of the Israeli leadership.”

The U.K. provides about 15% of the components of Israel’s F-35 bombers—the Israeli Air Force’s “flagship asset,” according to the Royal United Services Institute—and has licensed more than $594 million in military exports to Israel since 2015.

While the U.S. Senate on Tuesday passed a $95 billion foreign aid bill, including $14.1 billion for Israel, some European governments are working to end their complicity in Israel’s mass killing of at least 28,576 Palestinians so far in attacks that have also wounded at least 68,291 and left at least 17,000 children orphaned.

On February 6, the Walloon regional government in Belgium suspended two licenses for the export gunpowder to Israel, citing the International Court of Justice’s (ICJ) interim ruling last month which found that Israel is “plausibly” committing a genocide in Gaza.

Italian Foreign Minister Antonio Tajani said in late January that the government had halted all arms sales to Israel in October, when Israel began its bombardment of Gaza in retaliation for a Hamas-led attack on October 7.

José Albares, Spain’s foreign minister, also said last month that the Spanish government had done the same, but El Diarioreported on Sunday that the country had actually exported $1.1 million in ammunition to Israel in November.

“The suspension of arms transfers to Israel must be comprehensive and permanent, and not just temporary,” said Alberto Estévez, a spokesperson on weapons issues at Amnesty International Spain. “The Spanish government has wanted to be an example in this crisis in the face of other much more complicit governments, but it must be more forceful to promote a European arms embargo on Israel and Hamas and other Palestinian armed groups, in addition to pressuring the United States to stop the supply of arms to Israel and support the imposition of a global embargo on the U.N. Security Council.”

On Wednesday, Spanish Prime Minister Pedro Sánchez joined Irish Prime Minister Leo Varadkar in writing to European Commission President Ursula von der Leyen and demanding an “urgent review” of Israel’s compliance with human rights obligations under its trade deal with the European Union.

“Against the background of the risk of an even greater humanitarian catastrophe posed by the imminent threat of Israeli military operations in Rafah, and given what has occurred, and continues to occur in Gaza since October 2023, including widespread concern about possible breaches of international humanitarian law and international human rights laws by Israel, we ask that the Commission undertake an urgent review of whether Israel is complying with its obligations, including under the E.U./Israel Association Agreement, which makes respect for human rights and democratic principles an essential element of the relationship,” wrote Sánchez and Varadkar.

The two leaders reiterated their call for an immediate humanitarian cease-fire, which was supported by a large majority of countries in a vote at the U.N. General Assembly in December, “including by 17 E.U. member states.”

Varadkar and Sánchez also pointed to the ICJ’s interim ruling in South Africa’s case last month, in which the country accused Israel of genocidal violence against Palestinians.

The orders of the ICJ, which demanded that Israel ensure that humanitarian aid can reach Gaza residents and that its military is not committing acts of genocide, “are binding,” the leaders reminded the European Union.

Original article by JULIA CONLEY republished from Common Dreams under Creative Commons (CC BY-NC-ND 3.0). 

Continue ReadingCalls Grow for ‘European Arms Embargo’ on Israel After Dutch F-35 Ruling

Public healthcare becomes key rallying point in Italy

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Original article republished from peoples dispatch under a Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike 4.0 (CC BY-SA) license.

Health activists during a protest in Lombardy. (Photo: Medicina Democratica)
Health activists during a protest in Lombardy. (Photo: Medicina Democratica)

More and more people in Italy mobilize to protect the public health system against privatization and budget cuts promoted by far-right Giorgia Meloni’s government

The functioning and future of Italy’s National Health Service or Servizio sanitario nazionale (SSN) have become one of the most important mobilizing issues for trade unions, civil society organizations, and ordinary citizens. Just like health systems in many other European countries, the SSN has fallen prey to policies that promote the participation of the private sector in service provision, weakening the public, tax-based system, which is supposed to provide care to everyone. With the government of prime minister Giorgia Meloni pushing for a policy of administrative devolution and further cuts to health expenditure, things in the healthcare sector are poised to get even bleaker, as activists and health workers warned during a recent national rally in Rome.

Read more: Tens of thousands mobilize on the streets of Rome against far-right Meloni’s policies

After the national mobilization, the protests headed north to Lombardy, where they should culminate in a central manifestation in Milano on Saturday, 21 October. In the leadup to the local events, Vittorio Agnoletto, a physician and health activist, underlines the importance of people taking to the streets to protect the public health system. He said in a recent blog post, “The best thing for everyone to do right now is to get involved. Get involved in a campaign to defend your local hospital, get involved in a campaign to protect your community health center from falling into the hands of the private sector, get involved in any local health campaign to build its strength.”

Observing the situation of the health system in Lombardy directly, Agnoletto knows first-hand what privatization of the SSN brings. In that region, private health providers gained ground ever since the mid-1990s. During the COVID-19 pandemic, regional policies even went as far as equalizing the public and private sector. 

It seems that policy makers in Italy have lost the lessons of the pandemic, as other regions continue to pursue similar policies, undermining the SSN. In 2021, Lombardy’s private health sector received over EUR 6 billion (around USD 6.33 billion) from public sources; in Lazio, it received EUR 3.8 billion (over USD 4 billion). Overall in the same year, there were over 16,500 private health providers in Italy, with a turnover of approximately EUR 62 billion (USD 65.37 billion) in revenue, as Agnoletto warns in his reports.

Of these, EUR 25 billion (USD 26.36 billion) comes from public coffers that could be used to strengthen the SSN and help address some of its most pressing issues, including a chronic lack of health workers and long waiting lists. Wait time for some procedures in Lombardy can take up to 4 years, a fact which pushes those who can afford it toward the private sector. Those who cannot afford it often give up: millions of people in Italy decide not to pursue care because of waiting lists.

With Meloni’s government planning further reductions in health expenditure, it is difficult to imagine the waiting lists in the SSN getting shorter anytime soon. Public health expenditure in Italy, amounting to a little over 6% of GDP, is already below that of EU peers France and Germany, where it stands at 9% or more. Instead of finding ways to address that gap, the government is setting all the wrong priorities, as the left party Potere al Popolo has been warning for years.

Instead of prioritizing the education of health workers, considering the 2021 deficit of 45,000 doctors and 75,000 nurses, government plans have been focused on purchasing high-end technology and building capacities for telemedicine. Of the EUR 15.6 billion (USD 16.45 billion) allocated to health in Italy’s EUR 192 billion-worth (USD 202.45 billion) 2021-2026 recovery plan funded through the European Commission’s Recovery and Resilience Facility, 62% is allocated to technology, and only 8% is foreseen for training and retaining health workers.

Read more: Enough of creeping privatization of health care, say striking Italian doctors

The policy of administrative devolution, and thus the decentralization of healthcare, pushed for by the government, represents an additional threat to the public health system. As Margherita Cantelli from Potere al Popolo explains, some aspects of the organization of the health system have previously been decentralized from the state to the regional level. According to Cantelli, this experience is enough of a warning of what would follow if the decentralization were to be taken to another level.

“We’ve seen a clear trend of closures of local hospitals and other health units following the decentralization process, while the private structures continued to receive public funding. The shutting down of these hospitals was part of the privatization trend, and it has pushed the SSN away from the smaller towns and centers. If this kind of decentralization were to grow, there is no doubt that the problems would grow as well,” Cantelli said to People’s Health Dispatch.

According to Cantelli, the best way forward right now is to continue to protest and bring the people’s voice to the spaces where healthcare plans are shaped, thus building a shared idea of the importance of a universal public health service, free for everybody who needs it. “I believe there is a lot of space to explain the links between the problems we are seeing in the field of health and those that we are seeing in the field of labor rights, and we should use this to mobilize together,” she says.

Original article republished from peoples dispatch under a Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike 4.0 (CC BY-SA) license.

Continue ReadingPublic healthcare becomes key rallying point in Italy

Julian Assange to be made honorary citizen of Rome

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Julian Assange speaks at London's Ecuadorian Embassy
Julian Assange speaks at London’s Ecuadorian Embassy

ROME, Oct 19 (Reuters) – Jailed WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange will become an honorary citizen of Rome by early next year following a vote this week by its local assembly, the city’s former mayor Virginia Raggi said on Thursday.

Assange, 52, has been in London’s high-security Belmarsh prison since 2019 and is wanted in the United States over the release of confidential U.S. military records and diplomatic cables in 2010.

Other Italian cities have taken similar steps. The northern city of Reggio Emilia granted Assange citizenship last month, while Naples is set to follow shortly.

If extradited to the United States, Assange risks a sentence of up to 175 years in a maximum-security prison.

Continue ReadingJulian Assange to be made honorary citizen of Rome

Europe’s olive oil supply running out after drought – and the odd hailstorm

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Heatwaves around Mediterranean have damaged harvests and forced producers to import from South America

Olive grove
Olive oil groves by Birding In Spain, CC BY-SA 4.0 <>, via Wikimedia Commons

Europe has almost run out of local olive oil supplies and is set for more shortages, after extreme weather damaged harvests for a second year.

The world’s largest producer has said it is having to import supplies from South America to keep up with demand.

“Today it is almost physically impossible to buy olive oil. It is sold out,” Walter Zanre, the chief executive of the UK arm of Filippo Berio, said.

Olive trees have been cultivated around the Mediterranean for thousands of years, with Spain alone producing half of the world’s supply of olive oil, but wildfires and soaring summer temperatures mean the future of this ancient industry is looking increasingly uncertain.

Global production is expected to fall to 2.4m tonnes according to the International Olive Council, less than last year’s harvest and well short of global demand of about 3m tonnes, after drought and heatwaves of more than 40 degrees hit production in Spain.

Extreme weather in other important growing regions including Greece, Italy and Portugal as well as Turkey and Morocco has added to the crisis.

Continue ReadingEurope’s olive oil supply running out after drought – and the odd hailstorm

‘Ancient Heat Records Will Be Broken’: Southern Europe Braces for Unprecedented Temperatures

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Original article by JAKE JOHNSON republished from Common Dreams under Creative Commons (CC BY-NC-ND 3.0). 

“If the disasters we’re seeing this month aren’t enough to shake us out of that torpor, then the chances of our persevering for another hundred and twenty-five thousand years seem remote.”

Southern Europe faced dangerously high temperatures on Sunday amid a continent-wide heatwave that’s expected to get worse in the coming days, potentially shattering longstanding records as the climate crisis rages.

Reuters reported that a “new anticyclone dubbed Charon, who in Greek mythology was the ferryman of the dead, pushed into the region from north Africa on Sunday and could lift temperatures above 45°C (113°F) in parts of Italy early this week,” prompting Italian officials to issue heat advisories for more than a dozen cities on Sunday., Italy’s weather news service, said Sunday that the country must “prepare for a severe heat storm that, day after day, will blanket the whole country.”

“In some places,” the service added, “ancient heat records will be broken.”

The fastest-warming continent on the planet, Europe has been facing scorching heat over the past several weeks as scientists warn that the fossil fuel-driven climate crisis is making such heatwaves more likely and increasingly intense. Last summer was Europe’s hottest season on record, and extreme heat killed more than 61,000 people on the continent between late May to early September of 2022.

But the current heatwave appears on track to be even more severe than last summer’s.

As CNN reported Sunday, “Climate scientists at the European Space Agency (ESA) say temperatures could reach 48°C (118.4°F) on the islands of Sicily and Sardinia, ‘potentially the hottest temperatures ever recorded in Europe.'”

“The ESA warned that Europe’s heat wave has only just begun with Spain, France, Germany, and Poland expected to see extreme weather, just as the continent welcomes what is expected to be a record-breaking number of tourists coming for the first time since the Covid-19 pandemic,” the outlet added.

Giulio Betti, an Italian meteorologist and climate expert, told the BBC that “temperatures will reach a peak between 19 and 23 July—not only in Italy but also in Greece, Turkey, and the Balkans.”

“Several local heat records within these areas may well be broken during those days,” Betti added.

Europe’s intensifying heatwave comes in the context of globally high temperatures fueled by El Niño conditions—which the climate crisis has likely made worse and more frequent.

Large swaths of the U.S.Asia, and Africa have experienced sweltering temperatures and other extreme weather—including deadly flooding—in recent weeks, heightening the urgency of coordinated climate action at the upcoming COP28 conference in the United Arab Emirates.

“It was probably the Earth’s hottest week in history earlier this month, following the warmest June on record, and top scientists agree that the planet will get even hotter unless we phase out fossil fuels,” The Guardian‘s Dharna Noor wrote Sunday. “Yet leading energy companies are intent on pushing the world in the opposite direction, expanding fossil fuel production and insisting that there is no alternative. It is evidence that they are motivated not by record warming, but by record profits, experts say.”

In February, after reporting a record-shattering $28 billion in 2022 profits, the London-based oil giant BP announced that it was walking back its emission-reduction goals and planning to produce more fossil fuels than expected.

Shell, which posted $40 billion in profits last year, followed suit last month, ditching its plans to reduce oil production by up to 2% per year.

In a New Yorkercolumn on Sunday, author and climate advocate Bill McKibben noted that the BBC aired an interview with Shell CEO Wael Sawan on July 6, the day scientists believe may have been the hottest on record.

During the interview, Sawan claimed that cutting oil and gas production would be “dangerous and irresponsible,” drawing swift backlash.

McKibben noted that Sawan “told the BBC that, while there are not currently any plans, Shell wouldn’t rule out moving its headquarters from the United Kingdom to the United States, where oil companies get higher market prices for their shares.”

“This suggested to him that the U.S. is more supportive of oil and gas companies, and, as he has told investors, he wants to ‘reward our shareholders today and far into the future,'” McKibben added. “That is pretty much the definition of ‘business as usual,’ and it’s precisely what has generated this completely unprecedented heat. If the disasters we’re seeing this month aren’t enough to shake us out of that torpor, then the chances of our persevering for another hundred and twenty-five thousand years seem remote.”

Original article by JAKE JOHNSON republished from Common Dreams under Creative Commons (CC BY-NC-ND 3.0). 

Continue Reading‘Ancient Heat Records Will Be Broken’: Southern Europe Braces for Unprecedented Temperatures

Cerberus heatwave: Why is it so hot in Europe and how long will it last?

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Why is it so hot in Europe?

Extreme temperatures have hit Europe this year as the world swelters through the El Niño weather pattern, and greenhouse gas emissions warm our climate.

But the latest highs have been made worse by an anticyclone dubbed ‘Cerberus’. This area of high pressure started in the Sahara before moving across northern Africa and into the Mediterranean.

The heatwave was named by the Italian Meteorological Society after the fiery-eyed, three-headed dog that guards the gates of the underworld in Greek mythology.

How hot will Europe get?

The Italian islands of Sardinia and Sicily could simmer in 48°C in the coming days, potentially reaching “the hottest temperatures ever recorded in Europe,” according to the European Space Agency (ESA).

In August 2021, Sicily hit 48.8°C – the current record.

Rome, Bologna and Florence are among the 10 Italian cities currently under red alert for extreme heat.

Spain’s weather service said thermometers could potentially hit 45°C southeastern areas of the Iberian Peninsula, which are also under an alert for extreme heat. The temperature of the ground in parts of the country has hit more than 60°C.

Continue ReadingCerberus heatwave: Why is it so hot in Europe and how long will it last?

Climate activists protest at Rome’s Trevi fountain

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Activists from Italy’s Ultima Generazione (Last Generation) group turn Rome’s Trevi fountain black. Ultima Generazione is Italy’s group within the international Action Network. Italy has recently experienced extreme rain and flooding with at least 15 people killed.

Italy’s deadly floods are yet another example of climate change extremes, experts say

Floods that sent rivers of mud tearing through towns in Italy’s northeast are another drenching dose of climate change’s all-or-nothing weather extremes, scientists say. 

It is something that has been happening around the globe.

The coastal region of Emilia-Romagna was struck twice. First by heavy rain two weeks ago on the drought-parched ground that could not absorb it leading to overflowing riverbanks overnight. This was followed by the deluge that killed 13 and caused billions in damages this week. 

More than 10,000 people fled their homes, some plucked from rooftops or balconies by rescue helicopters and others ferried out on dinghies. 

Continue ReadingClimate activists protest at Rome’s Trevi fountain

WARNING: Graphic Image. Paris attacks 13 November 2015

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WARNING: Graphic Image. For me it was that photo. That was enough. The claim was that it was carefully considered / planned. So would Daesh make a sacrifice to the devil? I have experience of this. Those numbers in the image. Daesh would do that? Hands up? Looks like a different dialect.

Image of Bataclan theatre following Paris attacks 13 November 2015

ed: a certain dialect. I’ve not ever taken any vows.

ed: J’accuse les NeoCons.

9.15 20/11/15: Who don’t have beards? French culture is anti-stubble – even tramps are clean-shaven FFS. To not have beards is a cultural giveaway. 11.10 21/11/15. This is probably incorrect. They may have had small beards or stubble.

24/11/15 10.15 am

Paris attack witness says black Mercedes pulled up and shooters fired rifles from the hip

Witness describes Paris attackers as clean-shaven, muscular, like soldiers or mercenaries, driving a black Mercedes car.

“He was white, clean shaven and had dark hair neatly trimmed.”

Paris Attack Reported on WIKIPEDIA and TWITTER before it happened

Paris attacks reported at wikipedia and twitter before they happenedThat title is a little misleading. The Wikipedia reports are extremely detailed very soon after the events with one incident reported before it had happened. The twitter report was over two days before the Paris attacks.

The 23:18 version includes discussions of the hostage-taking, complete with an approximate number of hostages involved (60), as well as detailed accounts of events at several locations. It even has a detailed bibliography. How could your average Wikipedia author have done this incredible piece of work and in less than two hours? Obviously this was not your average Wikipedia author.

You’re invited to read this early version of the Wikipedia article, which appears at the bottom of this post.

Revisions were subsequently made to the article. But the storyline it established, which is undoubtedly why it was written in the first place and gotten into Wikipedia so quickly, did not change through any of those revisions. It’s the storyline that the article is designed to make stick in the public mind.

As yet (00:41 PM CET), the newspapers are reporting simply bullet lists of events which they’re aware of only very sketchily. But Wikipedia has extensive coverage. within a couple of hours. That just did not sit with me and I continued to investigate.

Secret Warfare: Operation Gladio and NATO’s Stay-Behind Armies

Synopsis of the Book

Chapter One: A terrorist attack in Italy

This chapter describes the discovery of the secret stay-behind army “Gladio” in Italy. The chapter takes the reader back to the Peteano terrorist attack of 31 May 1972. In that year an anonymous phone call after the attack suggested that the left-wing terrorist organization “Red Brigades” had carried out the atrocity, and for many years Italy believed that the crime had been carried out by the political left. Yet in 1984 Italian judge Felice Casson reopened the Peteano case after having discovered large-scale manipulations. The chapter describes how Casson during his investigations discovered the Italian secret stay-behind army “Gladio” hidden within the military secret service and how it had linked up with right-wing terrorist Vincenzo Vinciguerra who confessed to having carried out the Peteano terrorist attack. The chapter focuses on the agitated Italian public debate that followed when Vinciguerra exposed the so called “strategy of tension” through which members of the secret stay-behind armies and the military secret services had manipulated the public through terrorism. The secret armies supplied right wing terrorists with explosives to carry out terrorist attacks on the Italian population who were thereafter blamed on the communist party and the political left in general in order to discredit the political opponent. “The terrorist line was followed by camouflaged people, people belonging to the security apparatus, or those linked to the state apparatus through rapport or collaboration”, Vincenzo Vinciguerra testified. Right-wing organisations across Western Europe “were being mobilised into the battle as part of an anti-communist strategy originating not with organisations deviant from the institutions of power, but from the state itself, and specifically from within the ambit of the state’s relations within the Atlantic Alliance.

Chapter Four: The secret war in the United Kingdom

The chapter takes the reader back to World War Two when British Prime Minister Winston Churchill ordered that under the label “Special Operations Executive” (SOE) a secret army had to be created “to set Europe ablaze”. SOE operated behind enemy lines, and following World War Two the British were widely recognised as the leading experts in secret warfare. The chapter describes how the British foreign secret service MI6 together with the British Special Forces “Special Air Service” (SAS) and the CIA during the Cold War set up and trained the secret stay-behind armies in Western Europe. Among those trained by the SAS ranged Decimo Garau, an instructor at the Italian Gladio base Centro Addestramento Guastatori (CAG) on Capo Marargiu in Sardinia

26/11/15 22.50 Comments are very welcome. There is a comments policy that it needs to be relevant and non-commercial. You are welcome to disagree or take issue. The vast majority of comments to this blog are commercial spam that get caught by Akismet. If you have something to say it will be published although I don’t check that often.

16/11/15 23.00 UK Prime Minister David Cameron is currently banging the drum to have UK military bomb – allegedly IS/ISIS/Daesh in Syria. I am opposed to that for a few reasons; 1. There is not a clear objective

2. Despite what DC says innocent people are clearly going to be killed and injured

3. The situation is hugely complex and I don’t see that UK can or should contribute anything to resolving it

4. I suspect that Cameron is following the NeoCon objective of getting rid of al Assad for greater NeoCon objectives. ed: i.e. bombing who?

later ed: You shouldn’t rush into things in an emotional state. You need to consider things rationally. There’s a real danger that people are manipulated through their emotions.


Continue ReadingWARNING: Graphic Image. Paris attacks 13 November 2015