Archive | July 10, 2014

You Pay more while Banks Profiteer in a Cashless Society…that’s the Convenience*

You Pay more while Banks Profiteer in a Cashless Society…that’s the Convenience*

By Holly Black

The No 505 bus from King’s Lynn town centre to Spalding is about to drive off. I wave at the driver. She stops, and the doors slide open with a ‘pssht’.

‘Thank you for not driving off without me,’ I say and then ask for a ticket.

A day pass is £3. I root around in my purse, pull out my debit card and hand it over.

She looks me in the eye, then cackles:

‘You’re from London aren’t you? You can’t pay by card on a bus in King’s Lynn.’

It’s not the first time I’ve heard this today. This seaside market town may be less than 100 miles from the capital, it may be ‘the hub of West Norfolk’ as the town website boasts, it may be bustling and home to 45,000 people — but here, unlike in London, cash is king.

Try to pay by debit or credit card and you’ll routinely be sent packing to the nearest ATM, asked to spend more or pay a fee.

Banks are desperate to get us all to go digital. This week, the chairman of the British Bankers’ Association warned how hundreds more branches would shut because everyone was embracing new technology.

Speak to any of the big names and they seem convinced that every person in the country is routinely transferring money via their mobile phone, and using contactless technology (where you wave your debit card in front of a machine and money is automatically docked from your account). They think no one ever needs to carry cash again.

In London, you can use a debit card for most transactions. Almost every shop seems to have contactless payment machines.

Visa now has 300,000 across the country, and processed 111 million transactions in the past year. And if you can’t use contactless, then you can always revert to good old chip and pin, or — in some cases — use a programme on your mobile phone called an app.

These enable you to hail a cab, pay for car parking and make in-store purchases at the touch of a button.

Last year, £3 in every £4 spent was on a credit or debit card. There were 10.7 billion card transactions in the UK, but there is no record of how many cash transactions there were.

All this technology is designed to make paying for things even quicker. It’s supposed to make life more convenient for you and me.

But is there more to it than this? The small independent retailers of King’s Lynn certainly suspect there is.

A  sunny Wednesday lunchtime, and its High Street is bustling with shoppers. There are more than 300 retailers around the Vancouver Quarter shopping district. There are all the major names, including HMV and Marks & Spencer — and all these stores have chip and pin. Just off this main shopping drag is Norfolk Street, home to many independent traders.

Cash-poor: Holly Black discovers that paying by card for smaller purchases – such as drinks at the newsagent, a bus fare or a slice of cake at the bakery – mean either you or the store pay extra

The road is lined with butchers, bakers, cafes and hairdressers. But it doesn’t take long to notice that hanging in many of the store front windows are printed signs warning ‘Cash only’ and ‘No cards accepted’. There is no cash machine I can find on Norfolk Street, so if you’ve only got cards on you, these shops could be off-limits.

Walkers News doesn’t have a sign in its window, so I pop in. I pick up a newspaper, a magazine and a birthday card and head to the till.

The owner stands behind the counter of the dimly lit shop talking quietly with a colleague. He runs up the total and asks for £4.20.

I pull my debit card from my purse. He spots it and sighs, then rummages beneath the counter.

He comes back up with a chip and pin device. It doesn’t seem to get used very often.

‘I need to charge you 30p to pay with a card I’m afraid. It’s what the card company charges me,’ he says apologetically.

‘Most of my sales are very low-value and my profit margin is so small that I would be making a loss if I covered the cost of the card payment.’

As well as the flat rate for debit card purchases, he has to pay 0.75 per cent for credit card transactions. So if someone spends £10 he pays 7.5p. It doesn’t sound a lot, but it can quickly add up. It’s part of the reason why some small shops ask for a minimum spend of £5 or £10 if you want to pay by card — quite simply, they’ll lose money if they accept anything less. Paying 30p for my purchase is like adding another 7 per cent to my bill — so I pay by cash.

In another nearby newsagent I pick up two bottles of water and a bottle of Coca-Cola.

The sales assistant asks for £2.98. When I ask to pay by card, he says he’s sorry, too.

‘We used to have a chip and pin machine, but it broke. We never got it fixed.’

It turns out the shop doesn’t have superfast broadband — few do round here — it’s just another expense.

As a result, it’s always very slow to take payment by card, as the terminals ideally needs to be connected to the web.

I understand. We all know how incredibly frustrating it is when the chip and pin device takes an eternity to connect.

He’s now thinking about getting broadband, though, and installing another device so that customers can pay quicker.

The downside is it’s going to cost them money for the terminal and the internet connection, and then more every time someone makes a transaction. It’ll be another drain on profits. Next stop is the Lynn Museum — ‘West Norfolk’s greatest treasure’, the sign outside reads.

Through the automatic glass door the entrance room is hot and empty. There’s a small souvenir shop area to the left and a reception desk, behind which sits a kindly-looking woman. Admission to the museum is £3.95. I get out my debit card and ask:

‘Do you have contactless payment?’

She looks at me sympathetically. ‘You put your card in here,’ she says pointing to the card slot in the chip and pin device.

‘But can I just wave my card at the machine and pay that way?’  I persist.

She thinks I’ve lost the plot. ‘Oh no. We don’t have anything like that.’

But having just been given an eye-opener about how much each card transaction costs small organisations like this — and I can imagine that for a small town museum finances are tight — I decide not to pay by card.

There seems little doubt that we’re all carrying a lot less cash. According to a recent survey by financial company Think Money, one in five people carry £5 or less.

Last year, UK card spending topped half a trillion for the first time. Whether or not to accept cards is a major headache for small businesses.

If they accept them, there is the huge cost of the fees and rental charges they must pay companies such as Mastercard, Visa and American Express for equipment and transaction costs. (Part of the reason so many businesses refuse to take American Express is because they claim the fees are too high.)

Renting a single contactless payment terminal from Barclaycard costs a shop owner from £15 per month, as well as 1.5 per cent of every transaction.

These costs can be very hard to cope with for businesses which rely on selling lots of small-value items where profit margins are tight.

They can decide on a minimum spend for customers paying by card, or charge a fee for low-value transactions — but this can be off-putting for customers.

Equally, if they don’t have a card machine, this can be an even greater deterrent.

Small firms regularly describe the pressure they feel under to accept cards. If you listen to the banks, they would have us think that cash as a means of payment is dead. And maybe in London it is.

Website and mobile-phone app Uber will order you a minicab and let you pay for it; you can do the same for a black cab with an app called Hailo.

Parkmobile will allow you to pay to park without having to use a machine. Paypal will let you pay for a coffee or your lunch through your mobile phone.

Not only is paying by card quicker and more convenient, it’s psychologically preferable.

Research has shown that by paying on cards, you don’t feel like you’re actually spending money. That is good for businesses, as it makes us spend more.

Meanwhile, the banks clean up. Moving us all to online and digital payments can be much cheaper for them.
Depositing cash every week into the bank costs businesses money — unlike a normal current account, most business bank accounts charge a monthly fee. And there are extra charges to make deposits and withdrawals. But, time-consuming as this is, it can work out much cheaper for a small firm.

There are even some who claim banks are trying to strong-arm businesses into going digital by hiking their fees.

And many believe that forcing everyone to go digital is just another means of allowing banks to shut local branches.

Paying in and taking out money from your account does not make banks money — sales do.

Bank branches are expensive to run: there are rent, bills and staffing costs.

As I fumble for change to buy a carrot cake in a bakery by the bus station in King’s Lynn, the sales assistant tells me they haven’t got any plans to implement card payments at the moment. In Abbey Cars taxi office, the operator says there’s just no need for it. After several hours wandering around King’s Lynn it is time for lunch — but few of the cafes seem to take cards.

Finally, I find one which does, The Filling Station.

The furniture is mismatched, there are multi-coloured chandeliers and wood-effect lino flooring. Customers nurse tea and homemade cakes and the staff seem to know them all by name.

I order a jacket potato and a drink, then sit and watch how people are paying. Everyone is handing over cash.

After devouring my meal, I ask for the bill and cagily pass across my debit card. Though I’ve only spent £12.30, and I now feel a little bit guilty about paying with plastic, it’s taken without a fuss. What a relief.

I head back to the car. Then I realise the ticket machines in the car park only accept coins — and I’m all out.


Related Topics:

Invisible Chains

Cashless Society: Use Credit Cards at Your Peril*

$45 Million Stolen from Banks Worldwide Shows How Easy It is in a Cashless Society*

Sweden: Money Laundering and Emptying your Account Easier in Cashless Society*

Cashless Society: Push of a Button can Empty Your Credit Card Account*

Hurricane Sandy Challenges a Cashless Society!

Tyranny of Taxation and Regulation without Representation*

Rothschild’s Summit Fine-tuning Capitalism into Global Economic Tyranny*

New Wikileaks Confirm Global Corporate Tyranny*

NWO: Central Banks Imposing Biometric ID in Developing Countries First*


Farmers of El Salvador Block Monsanto Seeds*

Farmers of El Salvador Block Monsanto Seeds*

By Dahr Jamail

Farmers across El Salvador united to block a stipulation in a US aid package to their country that would have indirectly required the purchase of Monsanto genetically modified (GM) seeds.

Thousands of farmers, like 45-year-old farmer Juan Joaquin Luna Vides, prefer to source their seeds locally, and not to use Monsanto’s GM seeds.

“Transnational companies have been known to provide expired seeds that they weren’t able to distribute elsewhere,” said Vides, who heads the Diversified Production program at the Mangrove Association, a community development organization that works in the Bajo Lempa region of El Salvador.

“We would like the US embassy and the misinformed media outlets [that are pressuring the Salvadoran government to change their procurement procedure] to know more about the reality of national producers and recognize the food sovereignty of the country,” he added.

During the last two months, the US government has been attempting to pressure the government of El Salvador to sign the second Millennium Challenge Compact with the Millennium Challenge Corporation (MCC), a US foreign aid agency created during the presidency of George W. Bush.

While the US government has not specifically requested the government of El Salvador or local farming coops there to purchase Monsanto products, it has tacitly looked the other way while Monsanto affiliates have raked in huge profits with highly priced, and less effective or less desired products.

The signing agreement was allegedly based upon the condition that El Salvador purchases GM seeds from Monsanto in conjunction with the Millennium Challenge Compact.

With Strings Attached

According to MCC, its role in El Salvador is a positive one.

“MCC is fueling economic growth in El Salvador’s Northern Zone through technical assistance, rehabilitation of roads, credit, and investments in people, including vocational education, better water and sanitation services and an improved energy supply,” according to the agency’s website.

However, in late 2013, the US government made it clear that without “specific” economic and environmental policy changes, it would not provide the $277 million in aid funding it had promised to give El Salvador, via the MCC. In the following months, it became evident that these reforms included a policy change that would shift the country’s current method of providing seeds to its farmers.

In stark contrast to what the US government is attempting to do by forcing farmers around the globe to purchase Monsanto GM seeds, Salvadoran farmers like Vides have been working with the government, alongside NGOs like the Mangrove Association, to provide certified corn seed for agricultural packets that are distributed to thousands of Salvadoran farmers. The program has been ongoing for more than five years in the country, and is continuing to expand.

“Before, small producers didn’t have the opportunity to participate in government seed procurement processes,” said Vides, who farms coffee and vegetables, and raises cattle.

“The program has generated employment and income for communities, inhabitants and cooperatives of the area, while producers have also greatly developed their capacity to produce certified seed. Catering to transnational companies could hurt these gains that the program has created.”

Vides, along with hundreds of other farmers and their coops, has successfully produced high-quality seed that is adapted to the specific soil and climate conditions of their country. He notes that using indigenous seeds simply makes more sense agriculturally and economically.

Nevertheless, there has been an ongoing effort by the US government to work on behalf of multinational companies like Monsanto in pushing their GM products on the government of El Salvador.

In 2013, Food & Water Watch, a Washington, DC-based watchdog group, issued a report that detailed how the US State Department issued directives to US embassies to promote biotech products and be responsive to the concerns of the biotech industry.

“Between 2007 and 2009, the State Department sent annual cables to ‘encourage the use of agricultural biotechnology,’ directing every diplomatic post worldwide to ‘pursue an active biotech agenda’ that promotes agricultural biotechnology, encourages the export of biotech crops and foods and advocates for pro-biotech policies and laws,” the report said.

“The State Department views its heavy-handed promotion of biotech agriculture as ‘science diplomacy,’ but it is closer to corporate diplomacy on behalf of the biotechnology industry,” the watchdog group added.

Monsanto, which describes itself as “A Sustainable Agriculture Company,” is a massive multinational corporation well known for deleterious practices like suing small farmers when Monsanto seeds have blown into their crops, using “suicide seeds” (also referred to as terminator technology, these are seeds that have been genetically-engineered so that when the crops are harvested, all of the new seeds produced from these crops are sterile, which then forces farmers to buy seeds annually from Monsanto in order to continue growing their crops) and altering the genetic structure of natural organisms and then patenting these seeds.

The company’s concentrated control over the seed sector in India, as well as much of the rest of the world, has caused tens of thousands of farmers to go out of business, and triggered a spate of related suicides.

Farmers in Brazil are suing Monsanto for $2.2 billion for unfair collection of royalties – and this is just one among countless lawsuits against the company, which maintains extremely close ties with the US government.

Keeping It Local

Sixty-five-year-old farmer Manuel Cortez has been farming the Lower Lempa region of El Salvador since he was a small child. Cortez is the president of the La Maroma Cooperative, which is made of up 150 rural families and manages over 940 hectares of farming and pastureland.

The cooperative has been using 140 hectares for certified corn production for government contracts. Together with five other local coops, this farming area grows over 45 percent of the government of El Salvador’s certified corn supply, specifically with the H59 certified corn seed, which is under threat by Monsanto’s GM corn seed that the US government is pushing the country to use.

“We have heard that the United States would prefer that El Salvador purchase seeds from transnational sources, which would limit local seed producers like us,” Cortez told Truthout.

“We have lived with these inferior transnational seeds that previous governments have promoted, and our market was saturated with them. It seems as if the United States doesn’t support local production of seed.”

Cortez explained that his coop and those he works with receive credit at the national bank, which relies on government contracts as collateral.

“With the United States inserting uncertainty in the legal future of El Salvador’s seed contracting,” he said, “we are worried that we won’t be able to pay off our debt if the law changes to prefer transnational seed suppliers.”

According to Cortez, all the local farmers prefer the certified corn seed his coop is producing, and the US government should respect that.

“The United States should support the government of El Salvador as it attempts to build a local rural economy, so that we don’t have to migrate away from the area,” he concluded. “Often times, when people immigrate north [to the United States], they end up worse off than when they started.”

Supporting Farmers against Monsanto

Nathan Weller is the program and policy director of EcoViva, a small NGO that, according to its website, “works in partnership and solidarity with low-income communities in Central America organized to achieve environmental sustainability, economic self-sufficiency, social justice, and peace.”

Truthout asked Weller, who has been working with rural communities in the Lower Lempa area of El Salvador for 18 years, what he thinks the most sustainable course of action might be for Salvadoran farmers.

“There are now viable alternatives to the way seeds are produced in El Salvador, and the traditional reliance on a singular source of seed, or seed from just a handful of conventional agribusinesses, is no longer necessary,” Weller said. “Domestic producers have proven their ability to cultivate a quality product to government standards, offered at a significantly lower price than what the government had historically paid for conventional seed supplied, by-in-large, by a singular Monsanto affiliate.”

EcoViva has supported the capacity building of five local cooperatives currently participating in the corn procurement process. Weller explained that the local H59 corn variety is grown under climatic and growing conditions that make the seed more suitable to the region.

“This lends it toward higher yields without the need to apply the same expensive, harmful additives that Monsanto products generally require,” he said.

According to Weller, the government of El Salvador’s current ability to procure seed from local producers, who offer the best product at the cheapest price, has led to record corn yields in 2013.

“This has also led to a record outreach in national farming programs, and an injection of nearly $25 million total into the rural economy, creating hundreds of rural jobs,” he said.

The Confederation of Federations of Salvadoran Agrarian Reform (CONFRAS) is a confederation that represents 131 farming coops in the country, which represent over 5,911 rural farmers throughout El Salvador. The group released a May 18 press statement that addressed the US government pressure on the government of El Salvador to purchase Monsanto GM corn seed, noting: “We are threatened because the US is pressuring the government of El Salvador so that its seed is not purchased from local families struggling to escape poverty, but transnational businesses.”

CONFRAS states that from 2004 through 2009, farming inputs were delivered to Salvadoran family farmers with one primary purpose: to generate business to major importers of seed and other inputs, particularly to the seed producer Semillas Cristiani Burkard, a Monsanto affiliate.

As a result of widespread and mounting resistance to Monsanto seeds across El Salvador, the US government might now be softening its stance regarding its attempts to tie the $277 million aid deal to the requirement of the use of Monsanto GM seeds. Due in large part to the organization and resistance from the Salvadoran farmers, the US government appears to be leaving the GM seed requirement out of the aid deal.

However, even if that is the case, the US government could, as it has often done in the past, attempt to find another El Salvador aid package to tie the required purchase of Monsanto GM seeds.


Related Topics:

A Bilateral Free Trade Agreement with U.S. a Slow Death*

Occupy World: Chilean Farmer Wins Case against Monsanto*

Mayans Win Legal Battle Banning Monsanto’s GM Soya*

Dutch Parliament Bans Weedkiller for Private Use*

Russia Bans Import of GMO Products*

Italian Court Upholds Ban on Monsanto GM Corn*

As Expected EU to Approve GM Corn

From the Seed – Dinner Table, to be under EU Control

U.K. Will Start Growing GM Crops Next Year*

Meet Eugenicist Bill Gates GMO Banana*

Six Companies Have Patented 76% of the Global Seed Market*

GM Caused Crop Failure in India and Bangladesh*

Two Counties Successfully Ban Genetically Modified Organism*

Pakistan Death by GM Contamination*

“Our Liberation is for the Whole of Humanity”

Behind the False Flag: Israel’s After Gaza’s Natural Gas*

Behind the False Flag: Israel’s After Gaza’s Natural Gas*

By Prof Michel Chossudovsky

Five years ago, Israel invaded Gaza under “Operation Cast Lead”.

The following article was first published by Global Research in January 2009 at the height of the Israeli bombing and invasion under Operation Cast Lead.

In the wake of the invasion, Palestinian gas fields were de facto confiscated by Israel in derogation of international law

A year following “Operation Cast Lead”,  Tel Aviv announced the discovery of  the Leviathan natural gas field in the Eastern Mediterranean “off the coast of Israel.”

At the time the gas field was: “ … the most prominent field ever found in the sub-explored area of the Levantine Basin, which covers about 83,000 square kilometres of the eastern Mediterranean region.”

Coupled with Tamar field, in the same location, discovered in 2009, the prospects are for an energy bonanza for Israel, for Houston, Texas based Noble Energy and partners Delek Drilling, Avner Oil Exploration and Ratio Oil Exploration. (See Felicity Arbuthnot, Israel: Gas, Oil and Trouble in the Levant, Global Research, December 30, 2013

The Gazan gas fields are part of the broader Levant assessment area.

What is now unfolding is the integration of these adjoining gas fields including those belonging to Palestine into the orbit of Israel. (see map below).

It should be noted that the entire Eastern Mediterranean coastline extending from Egypt’s Sinai to Syria constitutes an area encompassing large gas as well as oil reserves.

War and Natural Gas: The Israeli Invasion and Gaza’s Offshore Gas Fields

By Michel Chossudovsky

January 8, 2009

The December 2008 military invasion of the Gaza Strip by Israeli Forces bears a direct relation to the control and ownership of strategic offshore gas reserves. 

This is a war of conquest. Discovered in 2000, there are extensive gas reserves off the Gaza coastline. 

British Gas (BG Group) and its partner, the Athens based Consolidated Contractors International Company (CCC) owned by Lebanon’s Sabbagh and Koury families, were granted oil and gas exploration rights in a 25 year agreement signed in November 1999 with the Palestinian Authority.

The rights to the offshore gas field are respectively British Gas (60 percent); Consolidated Contractors (CCC) (30 percent); and the Investment Fund of the Palestinian Authority (10 percent). (Haaretz, October 21,  2007).

The PA-BG-CCC agreement includes field development and the construction of a gas pipeline.(Middle East Economic Digest, Jan 5, 2001).

The BG licence covers the entire Gazan offshore marine area, which is contiguous to several Israeli offshore gas facilities. (See Map below). It should be noted that 60 percent of the gas reserves along the Gaza-Israel coastline belong to Palestine.

The BG Group drilled two wells in 2000: Gaza Marine-1 and Gaza Marine-2. Reserves are estimated by British Gas to be of the order of 1.4 trillion cubic feet, valued at approximately 4 billion dollars. These are the figures made public by British Gas. The size of Palestine’s gas reserves could be much larger.

Who Owns the Gas Fields?

The issue of sovereignty over Gaza’s gas fields is crucial. From a legal standpoint, the gas reserves belong to Palestine.

The death of Yasser Arafat, the election of the Hamas government and the ruin of the Palestinian Authority have enabled Israel to establish de facto control over Gaza’s offshore gas reserves.

British Gas (BG Group) has been dealing with the Tel Aviv government. In turn, the Hamas government has been bypassed in regards to exploration and development rights over the gas fields.

The election of Prime Minister Ariel Sharon in 2001 was a major turning point. Palestine’s sovereignty over the offshore gas fields was challenged in the Israeli Supreme Court. Sharon stated unequivocally that “Israel would never buy gas from Palestine” intimating that Gaza’s offshore gas reserves belong to Israel.

In 2003, Ariel Sharon, vetoed an initial deal, which would allow British Gas to supply Israel with natural gas from Gaza’s offshore wells. (The Independent, August 19, 2003)

The election victory of Hamas in 2006 was conducive to the demise of the Palestinian Authority, which became confined to the West Bank, under the proxy regime of Mahmoud Abbas.

In 2006, British Gas “was close to signing a deal to pump the gas to Egypt.” (Times, May, 23, 2007). According to reports, British Prime Minister Tony Blair intervened on behalf of Israel with a view to shunting the agreement with Egypt.

The following year, in May 2007, the Israeli Cabinet approved a proposal by Prime Minister Ehud Olmert  “to buy gas from the Palestinian Authority.” The proposed contract was for $4 billion, with profits of the order of $2 billion of which one billion was to go the Palestinians.

Tel Aviv, however, had no intention on sharing the revenues with Palestine. An Israeli team of negotiators was set up by the Israeli Cabinet to thrash out a deal with the BG Group, bypassing both the Hamas government and the Palestinian Authority:

Israeli defence authorities want the Palestinians to be paid in goods and services and insist that no money go to the Hamas-controlled Government.” (Ibid, emphasis added)

The objective was essentially to nullify the contract signed in 1999 between the BG Group and the Palestinian Authority under Yasser Arafat.

Under the proposed 2007 agreement with BG, Palestinian gas from Gaza’s offshore wells was to be channeled by an undersea pipeline to the Israeli seaport of Ashkelon, thereby transferring control over the sale of the natural gas to Israel.

The deal fell through. The negotiations were suspended:

 ”Mossad Chief Meir Dagan opposed the transaction on security grounds, that the proceeds would fund terror”. (Member of Knesset Gilad Erdan, Address to the Knesset on “The Intention of Deputy Prime Minister Ehud Olmert to Purchase Gas from the Palestinians When Payment Will Serve Hamas,” March 1, 2006, quoted in Lt. Gen. (ret.) Moshe Yaalon, Does the Prospective Purchase of British Gas from Gaza’s Coastal Waters Threaten Israel’s National Security?  Jerusalem Center for Public Affairs, October 2007)

Israel’s intent was to foreclose the possibility that royalties be paid to the Palestinians. In December 2007, The BG Group withdrew from the negotiations with Israel and in January 2008 they closed their office in Israel.(BG website).

Invasion Plan on the Drawing Board

The invasion plan of the Gaza Strip under “Operation Cast Lead” was set in motion in June 2008, according to Israeli military sources:

“Sources in the defense establishment said Defense Minister Ehud Barak instructed the Israel Defense Forces to prepare for the operation over six months ago [June or before June] , even as Israel was beginning to negotiate a ceasefire agreement with Hamas.”(Barak Ravid, Operation “Cast Lead”: Israeli Air Force strike followed months of planning, Haaretz, December 27, 2008)

That very same month, the Israeli authorities contacted British Gas, with a view to resuming crucial negotiations pertaining to the purchase of Gaza’s natural gas:

“Both Ministry of Finance director general Yarom Ariav and Ministry of National Infrastructures director general Hezi Kugler agreed to inform BG of Israel’s wish to renew the talks.

The sources added that BG has not yet officially responded to Israel’s request, but that company executives would probably come to Israel in a few weeks to hold talks with government officials.” (Globes online- Israel’s Business Arena, June 23, 2008)

The decision to speed up negotiations with British Gas (BG Group) coincided, chronologically, with the planning of the invasion of Gaza initiated in June. It would appear that Israel was anxious to reach an agreement with the BG Group prior to the invasion, which was already in an advanced planning stage.

Moreover, these negotiations with British Gas were conducted by the Ehud Olmert government with the knowledge that a military invasion was on the drawing board. In all likelihood, a new “post war” political-territorial arrangement for the Gaza strip was also being contemplated by the Israeli government.

In fact, negotiations between British Gas and Israeli officials were ongoing in October 2008, 2-3 months prior to the commencement of the bombings on December 27th.

In November 2008, the Israeli Ministry of Finance and the Ministry of National Infrastructures instructed Israel Electric Corporation (IEC) to enter into negotiations with British Gas, on the purchase of natural gas from the BG’s offshore concession in Gaza. (Globes, November 13, 2008)

“Ministry of Finance director general Yarom Ariav and Ministry of National Infrastructures director general Hezi Kugler wrote to IEC CEO Amos Lasker recently, informing him of the government’s decision to allow negotiations to go forward, in line with the framework proposal it approved earlier this year.

The IEC board, headed by chairman Moti Friedman, approved the principles of the framework proposal a few weeks ago. The talks with BG Group will begin once the board approves the exemption from a tender.” (Globes Nov. 13, 2008)

Gaza and Energy Geopolitics 

The military occupation of Gaza is intent upon transferring the sovereignty of the gas fields to Israel in violation of international law.

What can we expect in the wake of the invasion?

What is the intent of Israel with regard to Palestine’s Natural Gas reserves?

A new territorial arrangement, with the stationing of Israeli and/or “peacekeeping” troops?

The militarization of the entire Gaza coastline, which is strategic for Israel?

The outright confiscation of Palestinian gas fields and the unilateral declaration of Israeli sovereignty over Gaza’s maritime areas?

If this were to occur, the Gaza gas fields would be integrated into Israel’s offshore installations, which are contiguous to those of the Gaza Strip. (See Map 1 above).

These various offshore installations are also linked up to Israel’s energy transport corridor, extending from the port of Eilat, which is an oil pipeline terminal, on the Red Sea to the seaport – pipeline terminal at Ashkelon, and northwards to Haifa, and eventually linking up through a proposed Israeli-Turkish pipeline with the Turkish port of Ceyhan.

Ceyhan is the terminal of the Baku, Tblisi Ceyhan Trans Caspian pipeline. “What is envisaged is to link the BTC pipeline to the Trans-Israel Eilat-Ashkelon pipeline, also known as Israel’s Tipline.” (See Michel Chossudovsky, The War on Lebanon and the Battle for Oil, Global Research, July 23, 2006)


Related Topics:

Israel Securing its Energy Supply

New deal to connect Israel to European electric grid

Were the Three Settler Kidnappings an Israeli “False Flag” Operation?*

Egypt: 180 More Sentenced to Death*

Boycott Successful: Israel’s SodaStream Closes*

Jews Protest against the State of Israel

Algerian Football Heroes Shine for Gaza*

The Emperor has No Clothes!

The Misled Foreign Fighters in Iraq*

The Misled Foreign Fighters in Iraq*

By Hassan Al-Obaidi in Baghdad

Iraqi security forces have killed more than 200 foreign fighters in the ranks of the “Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant” (ISIL) during battles over the past month, the Ministry of Defence said.

Many of these fighters had entered the country illegally through Syria, the ministry said.

Isis commander Omar al-Shishani, a Georgian-born ethnic Chechen is pictured exiting a US-supplied Humvee stolen from Mosul and transported back to Syria


The official toll compiled from police and army reports “shows the organisation lost a very large number of its foreign fighters in Iraq over the past month, the majority of them in Mosul, Fallujah, Ramadi, Tikrit and south of Kirkuk”, said ministry spokesman Maj. Gen. Mohammed al-Askari.

The official toll shows at least 228 foreign fighters were killed in the past month, he told Mawtani, noting the toll is likely much higher due to the group’s removal of bodies during clashes.

“It is shameful that Muslims would kill one another, but disastrous that anyone would believe ISIL’s slogans,” said Kirkuk cleric Salem al-Barzanji, describing the influx of foreign fighters into Iraq as “saddening”.

“Iraqis want security and relief, they do not need fighters to come and kill them,” he said.

Anyone thinking of travelling to Iraq to fight should instead study the right path of Islam, he added.

“We, as clerics, say to them, ‘You are not welcome. News of your arrival will sadden us, while news of your death or arrest will make every Iraqi man and woman rejoice. Spare us your extremism, we want to shut the doors of our country and solve our problems ourselves.'”

‘Misled Youth’

A number of those killed were youth who had been misled, said Iraqi joint operations command spokesman Lt. Gen. Qassem Atta.

These young men “could have now been sitting in their seats in colleges or their homes, safe and sound”, he told Mawtani.

“But their entrance [into Iraq] and their attacks on civilians and security forces precluded this and they were killed.”

Young men from the Gulf, Syria, Yemen, Jordan, the Arab Maghreb, Afghanistan, Pakistan, Chechnya, the Caucasus and Europe numbered among the dead, he said.

“They were deceived and came to Iraq, where they expected to find the same picture ISIL portrayed to them online,” he said.

Many foreign gunmen have exhibited signs of shock and disbelief upon discovering “ISIL’s falsity”, Iraqi army commander in Anbar Lt. Gen. Rasheed Flaih told Mawtani.

These recruits have “fallen into the trap of terrorism”, he said, noting that upon investigation, many were found to have left their countries without the knowledge of their families.

Flaih had this message for all youth considering coming to Iraq to fight in the ranks of ISIL: “Iraq will not be a picnic for you by any means”.

“The Iraqi people’s insistence on a free and stable country free of extremism is greater than ISIL’s sick dreams of establishing an alleged caliphate,” he added.

Iraqi national security adviser Faleh al-Fayyadh thanked the people of Fallujah, Mosul, Kirkuk and Tikrit for their co-operation with the security forces.

“The majority of foreign terrorists were located with the help of residents and attacked with direct airstrikes,” he said.

This demonstrates that Iraqis reject the presence of foreigners who seek to control them, he added.


Related Topics:

ISIL Faces Mosul Residents in Defence of Shrine*

Iraqi civilians, officials Reject ISIL’s ‘Caliphate’*

Egypt: 180 More Sentenced to Death*

Egypt: 180 More Sentenced to Death*

Egyptian intelligence chief General Mohamed Al-Tuhami visited Israel this July. According to Israel Radio, Al-Tuhami met with the defence ministry and security agencies on strategic Israeli-Egyptian relations on Gaza. As the military sentence more Palestinians to death by destroying 19 more tunnels in the Sinai Peninsula this month, so too are more Egyptians sentenced to death…

Some 180 people were sentenced to death in Egypt in June, according to a report issued by the Egyptian Observatory of Rights and Freedoms.

The monthly report spoke of the court rulings issued against the opponents of the current regime in Egypt under the heading “unfair rulings, justice lacking”.

The report pointed out that the total number of convictions during June alone exceeded 1,700 people, 941 of whom were given prison sentences, 760 were acquitted, and 180 were given the death penalty.

In total those found guilty were given sentences amount to 5,319 years in prison, while bail payments reached 294,000 Egyptian pounds ($41,000), in addition to the more than five million Egyptian pounds ($0.7 million) in fines.

Since the ouster of President Mohamed Morsi, security services have arrested thousands of Muslim Brotherhood members and opponents of the coup, mostly during peaceful protests.

Some 682 pro-Morsi demonstrators were given the death penalty including the Supreme Guide of the Muslim Brotherhood, Mohammed Badie.

Related Topics:

Egypt Consolidates Israeli Relations*

Egypt: Torturing University Students*

More Mass Death Sentences in Egypt, 683*

Egypt Signs Contract to Import Palestinian Natural Gas from Israel*

Even Egyptian state-owned TV Admits to a Fraudulent Presidential Election

Enforcing Imperialism through the Ballot Box in Syria, Egypt and Ukraine*

Egypt’s Lost Power

Egypt Restricting Ramadhan Sermons to Favour the Regime*

Egypt: Opposition Builds*

Your Job Does NOT Define You*

Your Job Does NOT Define You*

By Paula Lawes

“I’ve learned that making a ‘living’ is not the same thing as making a ‘life.’” – Maya Angelou

When I started working toward a life of freedom a year ago and dared to set my sights on my dreams, I never imagined I’d be where I am today. However, if you took a snap shot of my life three years ago you’d have seen a different person. I was a career woman, a high flyer, rising quickly from an Office Manager to the Head of Human Resources for a fast growing, successful business, going from strength to strength.

I was living the dream, earning more than enough money to make sure I could buy whatever, and I’d finally become a success at long last! Yet today, the story is the complete opposite. I am a cleaner. I work part-time seven days a week, cleaning and clearing up after other people. I work for minimum wage and I work physically hard every single day.

age_of_reason-400x473Who I Thought I Was

I thought I couldn’t get a better job, a better position in life, or a better chance to show the world that I had finally made it. I was earning substantial amounts of money, getting to travel the world, and buying whatever I wanted. I thought that if I could just make it somehow, and prove it to everyone because I was working in London fifty hours a week, that I’d get the respect I’d always deserved. I was completely and utterly defined by my career. Without the job, the status, and money I’d be nothing a ‘nobody,’ and who wants to be that?

So What Happened?

I quit. One day I just decided that it wasn’t for me. It was too stressful; it was life numbing work, killing me from the inside out. I knew I no longer wanted to work for someone else’s dreams. I was tired of working hard, on the verge of becoming mentally unstable and feeling utterly miserable.

I realized that what I did as a job wasn’t what mattered. What mattered was the fact that I was happy, that my purpose went a lot deeper than sitting behind a desk, with my head in my hands wondering what the hell I was doing and why.

The Journey Began Once I’d started on this journey, I knew there was no going back because I’d never be satisfied. So I began searching for what really made me happy, what I loved to do, and how I could use that to serve the world. I wanted to contribute, to make a difference, and inspire others to do the same. It was like a light had finally been switched on in my brain. I realized that life was what I made it and I didn’t have to do what everyone else was doing. I could try something new, step out of the ordinary, and live an extraordinary life. The thing was, however, I had no money. When I’d quit my job, I’d mounted up a lot of debt. My credit cards were maxed out, and the money I did have I had to use for bills, rental payments, and to pay off those debts. I became very scared and anxious, as I wanted to follow my dreams and search for what mattered; yet, I still needed to live. I wasn’t about to go backward, so I had to admit defeat; I had to get a job, a menial one, something that required little attention or time that would still paid the bills. So I became a cleaner.

I won’t lie to you; it wasn’t easy. For so long I’d been a high flyer. I was proud of being known as a success and loved being able to afford anything I wanted. Then here I was, a failure, the type of person I felt sorry for and could never imagine being. I had become someone I never wanted to be. I was embarrassed to admit it to people, but at the same time I knew I had to do it. Financially, it took the pressure off. It also gave me the freedom to do what I loved during the day, and most of all, it allowed me to rediscover my dreams and work toward them.

e8dff-68408_489345344421177_9856419_nYour Work Doesn’t Have to Define You

It took me a long time to realize that my work didn’t have to define me. All that mattered was that I could pay my bills, which was the only reason for doing this. The fact that everyone else saw me as just a cleaner didn’t mean a thing; they could think what they wanted. I was the only one who knew the truth. I didn’t have to justify myself to anyone anymore. It was so liberating. Of course, there are down sides. I have days where I get so exasperated, so frustrated that I have to do this job. I get a little down and disheartened, but each time those doubts pop into my head I instantly turn them into something positive. So how can you deal with these down times, when you’re doing something that isn’t your dream?

Realize it serves a purpose. Remind yourself why you are here, why you are doing this job, and what you are getting out of it. Remember there is a reason for it, and that reason is to pay the bills, the rent, or buy food, and that’s it. It’s not that you are a cleaner, or a garbage collector, or whatever you decide to do while you work on your dreams. You are a planner, an achiever, and you are courageous enough to do what has to be done to make sure your dreams happen.

Be Grateful

Seriously, this is the most important thing you can do. When I get down I remember that I am so lucky and grateful for the fact that I can do a job, get paid for it, and still work on my dreams. If I had a nine-to-five job, I probably wouldn’t be where I am today because I’d be too tired. I’d be too comfortable with the money, the work, and the easiness of it all, so I’d probably stay stuck. Sometimes it’s good to be doing this kind of work, as there’s something you really want to get out of. It will motivate you so much more in that way. So always be grateful for having this opportunity.

Occupy Your Heart by Ian MacKenzieKeep Cheerful

Whenever I go into work, I see all the office staff looking down and depressed. I remember what it felt like to be stuck behind a desk all day doing work that did little for me. So I make sure I am cheerful.

I spread a little bit of light around me because I feel so lucky to have gotten out of the rat race. If I can make other people see that cleaning isn’t who I am, it’s what I make of it that matters, then perhaps I can inspire others to do the same.

I hope these will inspire you and keep you on the journey toward your dreams and purpose in life. It’s so important not to let what you do affect who you are. Some people will only see you for what you do, but those people don’t know what you know.

Always feel blessed and honored to be able to follow your heart and have the courage to go after what makes you happy.

If you are like me, you are very lucky indeed — and if you want to follow your dreams, begin today before it’s too late!

Related Topics:

Gonzalo Rojas: To Live a Dream

We are Naturally Masters of Many Trades*

Travelling When You’re Broke*

“You Choose!”

Modern Lifestyles, Thought and the Nature of Alzheimer

What Did You Plant Today?

That Driving Passion

The Guarani: Reclaiming One’s Conditions of Life

Learning and Achieving Outside the Education System

Finding Sanity in the City

Stay Human! -The Audacity to Hope

Creating Art Out of Life

8 Ways to Stay Afloat While Between Jobs

Why Does God Let These Things Happen To Me?

An Appreciative Heart is Good Medicine

Ramadhan Reflections: Your Chance to Get What You Want‏

Capitalist Democracy

Ramadhan Reflections: What Do I Do When Things Don’t Fall Into Place

Put the Glass Down

To Ride with the Wind

The Gift (Sunnah) of a Smile

The American Dream…

To Every Thing There Is A Season

Forced Organ Harvesting in the Ukraine*

Forced Organ Harvesting in the Ukraine*

By Tony Cartalucci

Unlike the terrorist offenses in Libya, Syria, and now Iraq, backed by the United States, the UK, the EU, members of NATO as well as regional collaborators such as Saudi Arabia, Israel, and Qatar, where any attempts to stop extremists from seizing entire nations is met by the West’s howling indignation and accusations of “human rights abuses,” the unmitigated brutality executed by literal Nazis in Ukraine against breakaway provinces in the east are accompanied by a hypocritical silence from the West.

Refugees streaming away from encircled and bombarded populated centers tell tales of mass murder, indiscriminate targeting of civilians, and even grisly accounts of forced organ harvesting taking place from the bodies of those killed by Kiev’s combined arms offensive, or from those kidnapped by criminal gangs operating in the vacuum of impunity afforded by the West’s silence.

Unlike in Libya, Syria, and now Iraq where the Western media eagerly reported “activist” accounts as unquestionable truth, and even participated in flagrant fabrications to justify further military intervention, particularly in Libya and Syria, networks like the BBC dismiss Ukrainian refugee accounts as hearsay not warranting any further investigation. In the BBC’s article, “The Ukrainian refugees escaping to Russia,” it states:

They claim that masses of Polish snipers have been shooting civilians, that children have been abducted and flown to America to have their organs removed, and that the Ukrainian army has been killing refugees who have been trying to escape.

There is no evidence to support any of these wild claims. But what they prove is a deep-seated mistrust of Kiev.

What could be considered more “wild” is the BBC’s outrageous hypocrisy, their lack of investigating claims – considering they claim to be journalists – and their lack of explanation as to just why the people of eastern Ukraine harbor a “deep-seated mistrust of Kiev.” Why would thousands of eastern Ukrainians, hostile or distrusting of Kiev, flee their homes in the first place had Kiev not been carrying out a policy of criminal brutality?

Forced Organ Harvesting

Russian sources tell a different story, explaining the details of the ongoing horror the BBC mentions in passing but failed to either qualify or dispel with anything resembling evidence. In Pravda’s article, “In Ukraine, human organs don’t stink,” it is reported that:

Shocking information appeared on the social networks saying that the militia from Slavyansk found hundreds of corpses of National Guard soldiers during a night reconnaissance operation. The soldiers had had their stomachs ripped open and internal organs removed. In addition, the people living in the troubled territories, have seen well-equipped ambulance vehicles, armored cash collection vans and other special vehicles near hospitals of the Ukrainian army.

Employees of international airports, for example, in Boryspil, said that there were many small aircraft chartered to transport special refrigerators that are used for transporting human organs.

These would be the same “social networks” frequently cited by the Western media to substantiate claims made against the targeted governments of Libya and Syria. Now that Western interests are backing a regime trying to consolidate its power against armed fighters, such stories are “wild” and unworthy of further investigation. Pravda notes that the impoverished state of Ukraine’s military – unable to provide even matching uniforms or food – makes the increased medical presence around Kiev’s forces very unlikely the result of interest in preserving the well-being of both its own fighters as well as those caught in their path.

Instead, considering the immense corruption and lawlessness that existed even before the so-called “Euromaidan” and the rise of an ultra-right client regime operating in utter disarray, it is more likely organ harvesting for profit is taking place. Eastern Europe has been one of several global epicenters for forced organ harvesting for years. A November 2011 Bloomberg article titled, “Organ Gangs Force Poor to Sell Kidneys for Desperate Israelis,” reported that:

Investigators on five continents say they have uncovered intertwining criminal rings run by Israelis and eastern Europeans that move people across borders — sometimes against their will — to sell a kidney. 

“The criminal here is the middleman who profits from the sick and the poor,” says Bahat, who investigated an organ- trafficking ring in Jerusalem. “It touches my heart that people will sell part of their body because they need money to live.” 

Criminals see an opportunity to make big money in the organ trade, where they can sell a kidney for 15 to 20 times what they pay, police throughout Europe say. 

“They recognize the obscene profit that can be made in the expanding black market in body parts,” says Jonathan Ratel, a Pristina, Kosovo-based prosecutor who has been investigating organ trafficking over the past two years. “It keeps happening because there is so much money in this.” 

Traffickers typically pay $10,000 to a seller for a kidney and collect $150,000 when selling it to a patient.

In fact, amid the chaos of Ukraine’s armed conflict, it would be unthinkable that these same criminal gangs would not be scouring the battlefields and hospitals for potential victims. The BBC’s failure to investigate the very plausible claims of desperate refugees suggests both utter journalistic incompetence and even complicity in covering up atrocities being committed as part of Kiev’s brutal, unwarranted, and deadly bid to consolidate power.

The state of forced organ harvesting as described by Bloomberg in 2011 implicated criminal gangs in Ukraine specifically, as have other reports. Ukrainian hospitals and doctors have been long-implicated as well. How then does the BBC call accounts of organ harvesting “wild claims” when nothing has been done to stop such practices since 2011, and especially with conditions in Ukraine today setting the stage for such criminality to flourish unchecked?

History Repeating Itself 

Just as the ultra-right taking power in Kiev signifies the resurgence of Nazism in Europe, fully backed by the European Union and NATO, the covering up of forced organ harvesting and other horrors is torn straight from the playbook of Adolf Hitler’s Nazis, including the likes of the notorious Josef Mengele. History is repeating itself, specifically because of the ignorance of Western audiences and the complicity of journalists charged with reporting the truth who instead, bury it under propaganda.

Since organ harvesting is undoubtedly taking place in Ukraine today – since it was taking place on record before the conflict even began – the BBC’s dismissal of this tale of horror may mean Polish snipers supported by NATO may also be carrying out atrocities, and the regime of Petro Poroshenko may very well be carrying out campaigns of racially motivated genocide.


Related Topics:

Harvesting Palestinian Organs*

Ukraine Kidnapping and Executing Protestors*

From Tahrir – Ukraine’s Orchestrated Unrest*

Hacked Emails Prove there are Western Backed Ukrainian Politicians*

Pattern Repeated: Ukrainian Elites Back in Power*

U.S. has Already Spent Five Billion Dollars to Subvert Ukraine*

Ukraine: Europe’s Israel*