Carlos Tevez’s father freed after Argentina kidnapping

 

Carlos Tevez celebrates after Juventus beat Atalanta BC 1-0 - 5 May 2014

The father of Argentine football star Carlos Tevez has been freed after being kidnapped on the outskirts of Buenos Aires and held for eight hours.

Segundo Tevez was taken by a group of men while driving his car in Moron, some 30km (20 miles) west of Argentina’s capital.

Police said the Tevez family had received several calls from the men demanding a ransom to free him.

Local media say a ransom of 400,000 pesos (£30,000; $50,000) was paid.

Neither the family nor the authorities have confirmed whether a payment was made.

“He is OK,” a spokesman for the family said.

The former Manchester United and Manchester City striker was granted permission to travel to Argentina by his current club, Juventus.

But reports in Italy said he had chosen not to return following the release.

Carlos Tevez, who was born Carlos Alberto Martínez, was raised by Segundo and his aunt after his biological father was killed and his mother abandoned him.

The BBC’s Ignacio de los Reyes in Buenos Aires says it is unclear whether the kidnapping was pre-meditated or if the group just targeted an expensive-looking car.

It is not the first time relatives of football stars have been the targets of kidnappings in Argentina.

In 2002, the brother of former Argentina and Barcelona player Juan Roman Riquelme was kidnapped and the footballer allegedly paid $160,000 (£95,000) to free him.

 

http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/world-latin-america-28547381

Chinese hackers steal Israel’s Iron Dome missile data

 

Hacking group previously linked to hacks on US defence contractors steals detailed missile schematics

iron dome missile system
Israel’s Iron Dome was the target of Chinese hackers, who stole schematics and specifications of the Arrow 3 missile among other components. Photograph: David Buimovitch/AFP/Getty Images

A Chinese hacking group has been accused of stealing data from Israel’s billion-dollar Iron Dome missile system.

The state-sponsored Comment Crew hacking group, thought to operate out of China, was responsible for attacks from 2011 onwards on three Israeli defence technology companies Elisra Group, Israel Aerospace Industries (IAI) and Rafael Advanced Defense Systems (Rads) all involved with the Iron Dome project.

The Iron Dome is Israel’s advanced anti-missile defence system – part funded to the tune of $1bn by the US government. It fires missiles to intercept rockets and artillery shells fired from between 2.5 miles and 43 miles away into populated areas, commonly described as a missile shield.

The revelation comes as cyber attacks against Israel have intensified during its current conflict with Palestine, including recent attacks defacing Israel Railways and hospital websites and denial of service attacks which slow Israeli’s internet connections, according to Dina Beer, managing director of the Israeli Internet Association, talking to Bloomberg.

‘We transferred this technology to them, and they coughed it all up’

The hacks occurred between 10 October 2011 and 13 August 2012, according to security firm Cyber Engineering Services (CES), talking to independent security researcher Brian Krebs, which tapped into the secret communications of the hackers and discovered that they had stolen over 700 files from IAI.

CES said that the majority of the data was intellectual property and that the 700 files likely represented only a small proportion of the data stolen from the three defence companies.

Among the documents stolen from IAI were detailed schematics and specifications for the US-designed Arrow 3 missile, which is restricted under the International Traffic in Arms Regulations and a key component of Iron Dome, as well as drones and other rockets.

“Most of the technology in the Arrow 3 wasn’t designed by Israel, but by Boeing and other US defence contractors,” Joseph Drissel, founder and chief executive of US-based CES, told Krebs. “We transferred this technology to them, and they coughed it all up. In the process, they essentially gave up a bunch of stuff that’s probably being used in our systems as well.”

‘The information was reported to the appropriate authorities’

The hackers had access to the corporate networks to some of the Israeli defence companies for over a year, and stole confidential emails from top executives at the companies.

An IAI spokeswoman brushed off the hacking allegations as “old news”.

“At the time, the issue was treated as required by the applicable rules and procedures,” IAI’s Eliana Fishler told Krebs. “The information was reported to the appropriate authorities. IAI undertook corrective actions in order to prevent such incidents in the future.”

Meanwhile Rafael Advanced Defense Systems denied knowledge of the attacks.

“Rafael does not recall such an incident,” said Amit Zimmer, corporate spokesperson for Rads told the Guardian. “Rafael’s data bases, including its air defence data bases, are extremely well protected to the highest standards.”

“The real victims here are the people on the other end who are put in harm’s way because of poor posture on security and the lack of urgency coming from a lot of folks on how to fix this problem,” said Drissel. “So many companies have become accustomed to low-budget IT costs. But the reality is that if you have certain sensitive information, you’ve got to spend a certain amount of money to secure it.”

The CES report on the attacks has not yet been publicly released, but the Comment Crew is thought to be associated with the Chinese People’s Liberation Army (PLA), which was accused of stealing large amounts of data from US defence companies.

People’s Liberation Army Unit 61398

Security firm Mandiant identified the Comment Crew as PLA unit 61398 in February 2013, while the United States Department of Justice charged five members of the hacking group with various cybercrime and espionage offences in May.

China is not the only country attacking Israeli through cyber channels. Israel counted 44m attacks on government sites during Israel’s eight-day conflict with Hamas in 2012, with the majority originating from Palestinian territory.

‘It’s terrorism, designed mostly to frighten’

Social media feeds and websites of news organisations have also been hit, including a TV channel that was hacked to display a Hebrew message in July urging Israeli mothers to call their sons home from the country’s military or see them killed or captured.

Domino’s Israel had its Facebook page taken over by hackers posting messages, including one that stated that, “today will strike deep in Israel, Tel Aviv, Haifa, Jerusalem, Ashkelon, Ashdod more than 2000 rockets. We’ll start at 7. Counting back towards the end of Israel … Be warned!”

“The attacks aren’t sophisticated; they just give the feeling that someone else is in control,” said Beer. “It’s terrorism, designed mostly to frighten: ‘See, we can control your sites and do things you don’t want us to do.’ And it works.”

Elisra Group had not responded to comment at the time of publication.

 

http://www.theguardian.com/technology/2014/jul/29/chinese-hackers-steal-israel-iron-dome-missile-data

The intractable conflict

by sabitu oyegoke

One thing I have learnt from this conflict is that IF you are POWERFUL don’t oppress people, don’t think you are invincible, don’t degrade a generation and don’t think you will do it because it’s doable. The more you oppress people the stronger and determined they become. 21 days on ..Hamas is still fighting, rockets still reaching deep into Israel, has not raised white flag and 56 Israelis dead. The commentators cannot believe it neither can I nor the Israelis. What they are talking about in the background now is Israeli’s EXIT strategy.

The basis for the war is fraught with arrogance because the war machine in Israel knew that a small cell killed the innocent Israeli civilians not Hamas but is a ploy to make two state solutions unattainable. The first ceasefire was rejected by Hamas because it was not part of it. Obama and Kerry disgraced and ridiculed for working with Turkey and Qatar the Hamas’s allies and for ‘sympathetic’ to genuine lift on 9 years of siege/blockage.

The US new generation is getting the facts and the support for unnecessary war by Israeli government by less than 20 years old is bleak for the government to read. This morning Hamas and other resistance groups are now invited to Egypt (an ally of Israeli) to be part of the ceasefire. There is no way HAMAS that has no air force, naval unit or regular army will win this war but the fact that they are fighting back after 21 days is self defeating for Israel. 

The status quo for both the Israelis and Palestinians is not sustainable or acceptable – there must be security for the Israelis and FREEDOM for Palestinians. The Israelis demand is to disarm Hamas and destroy the tunnels while Hamas wants the blockage to end. Even if the tunnels are destroy now Hamas can dig more tunnels and smuggle weapons. Peace will reign in that part of the world ONLY when the underlying issues are addressed, both parties make compromises and concessions on key issues otherwise we would be back to the same point in 2 years time.

US-Israel relations tested by Kerry shuttle diplomacy

 

US Secretary of State John Kerry returns to WashingtonKerry’s diplomatic credentials took a battering after Israel’s cabinet criticized his handling of the crisis
Before US Secretary of State John Kerry set off for the Middle East, he did a round of interviews on the US Sunday shows.

That was not an unusual move during such a time of heightened global instability, except for one incident.

While Kerry was waiting to go live on Fox News, he received word from an aide of new figures making that day – 20 July – the deadliest yet in Gaza.

Caught on a microphone, Kerry replied sarcastically: “It’s a hell of a pinpoint operation,”, referring to Israel’s offensive in Gaza.

The tape was aired during his interview and called an “extraordinary moment of diplomacy” by anchor Chris Wallace. The US was caught criticising its ally.

Prior to Mr Kerry’s arrival in Cairo, conversation was dominated by one question: “Can Egypt broker a deal?”

US Secretary of State John Kerry with Turkey and Qatar foreign ministers in Paris working on a resolution for Israel Gaza cease fireAfter attempted negotiations in Cairo, Kerry enlisted the help of Turkey and Qatar’s foreign ministers in Paris

But after meeting upon meeting produced little-to-no progress, the question shifted. Now it was: can Kerry broker a deal despite having failed in a recent wider peace effort and amid plentiful bad blood?

After a US ban on flights to Israel sparked anger and suspicion of economic strong-arming against the Israeli government, Mr Kerry took a day-trip closer to the conflict.

In Jerusalem he got a shorter-than-expected meeting with Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu.

When Kerry returned to Cairo, talk of a new-ish, two-stage plan emerged.

The proposal was a temporary ceasefire, or a humanitarian pause, to serve as a bridge to something more permanent. Any pause would allow for further negotiations on the future of Gaza, especially its economy and Israel’s security activities in the area.

“Regardless of the mechanism, what is important to me is there should be a genuine guarantee to

Hamas leader Khaled Meshaal told the BBC of his ceasefire conditions

By Friday an announcement of this “humanitarian pause” seemed imminent.

However, plans for a joint news conference kept slipping. Talk emerged of a trip to see the Qataris and Turks – Hamas allies – and it became clear the diplomatic initiative was in trouble.

Moments before Mr Kerry, his Egyptian counterpart and the Secretary Generals of both the UN and the Arab League were to take the stage at the Fairmont Hotel in Cairo, Israeli media broke the news that the cabinet had decided to refuse the proposal.

Mr Kerry tried to recover to a room full of Egyptian journalists and US press travelling with him.

“There was no formal proposal or final proposal or proposal ready for a vote submitted to Israel. Let’s make that absolutely crystal clear.” he said.

“We were having discussions about various ideas and various concepts of how to deal with this issue, and there’s always mischief from people who oppose certain things.”

The announcement of rejection, he said, was “one of those mischievous interpretations and leaks which is inappropriate to the circumstances”.

A senior US official backed up Mr Kerry, saying there was only a “concept”, but one based on an Egyptian ceasefire plan that Israel had already signed off on.

US Secretary of State John Kerry with Turkey and Qatar foreign ministers in Paris working on a resolution for Israel Gaza cease fireKerry’s latest diplomatic tour has been seen as a failure that has exposed strains in the US-Israel relationship

Since that press conference Israeli media has rounded on Mr Kerry, accusing him of pandering to Hamas. The US has responded by calling this treatment “offensive”.

The US has been at pains to avoid being seen as friendly to Hamas – a group it deems a terrorist organisation. That may well be a reason why Mr Kerry did not go to Doha, as had been previously considered.

Instead, Mr Kerry met Hamas’ intermediaries – Turkey and Qatar – on neutral ground: Paris.

After positive meetings on Saturday, the US feels the most likely diplomatic scenario now could be a gradual move towards a solution: a day of ceasefire at a time, building up until talks get going.

But for now, the US doesn’t know how long it will be negotiating.

And those watching from the outside don’t know how effective it will be.

 

http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/world-us-canada-28532866

PDP’s end will be ugly – Tinubu

by Eniola Akinkuotu

 

Asiwaju Bola Tinubu

 

A former Governor of Lagos State, Asiwaju Bola Tinubu, has predicted that the end of the Peoples Democratic Party will be disgraceful.

He alleged that the impeachment of some All Progressive Congress governors was an attempt to turn Nigeria into a one-party state but vowed that the PDP’s joy over the impeachment would be short-lived.

Tinubu’s media aide, Sunday Dare, said this on his Facebook page in a note titled, “PDP, Jonathan are building on quicksand,” on Monday.

He said it was unfortunate that the PDP-led Federal Government had trivialised the attempt on the life of a former military Head of State, Maj. Gen Muhammadu Buhari (retd.).

He berated the Publicity Secretary of the PDP, Olisa Metuh, for politicising the incident and expressed dissatisfaction in the manner with which investigation was being conducted.

He said, “Olisah Metuh’s recent reaction to the attack on General Buhari and the APC in which he strongly insinuated unreasonably that the APC must have arranged the attack on Buhari is a clear case of dementia. To disrespect General Buhari’s life and dishonour the innocent lives lost in order to score cheap political points is both offensive and unconscionable.

“The sun sets soon for the PDP and the party’s end will be ugly. Under the PDP, Nigeria suffers violence. The PDP takes Nigeria by force.

“The PDP plays with the tiger’s tail by pillaging the economy, brazenly stealing from public funds, subverting the Nigerian constitution, corruption of the police force, military and SSS in a desperate and near-criminal desire to win all elections.

“The truth is out about the culpability of the Presidency and a select few in the military and the President’s cabinet in the ongoing rapacious employment of state apparatus, resources and electoral institutions to impose a one party rule on Nigeria.”

He said President Goodluck Jonathan’s administration was worse than the dictatorship of both General Sani Abacha and General Ibrahim Babangida.

“The military leadership now serves the interest of Jonathan and the ruling party rather than defend the people and the constitution. Once the military is politicised, there goes our democracy,” he added.

 

http://www.punchng.com/news/pdps-end-will-be-ugly-tinubu/

Outrage as Lagos pastor boasts of Ebola cure

 

 

INTERNET PUNCH illustration

The Founder of Trinity House, Pastor Ituah Ighodalo, has claimed that he has found a solution to the deadly Ebola disease, which has killed no fewer than 670 people and infected more than 1,000 in Africa.

Following the death in Lagos of a Liberian, Patrick Sawyer, who flew in from his country to Nigeria last week, Ighodalo said he had a “message of hope and faith” that would uncover the solution to the highly infectious disease.

He said that God’s “anointing” and the “living words of Jesus,” were all that are needed to cure the deadly disease,” adding that mere laying of hands on those afflicted with the incurable Ebola virus was all that was required to liberate them.

Ighodalo claimed that he was drawing inspiration from the late Canadian–American Pentecostal pastor, John D. Lake, who, according to him, cured those infected by the virus.

Writing on his official Facebook page, the clergyman, who is also a chartered accountant, said that he could perform the same feat as Lake who reportedly laid hands on some Africans infected by the Ebola virus and healed them.

“Several years ago, the Ebola virus erupted in Africa, killing thousands of people without restraint or cure. The medical world was perplexed. A great man of God by the name John G. Lake came to the rescue by laying hands on infected people who were not to be touched.

“With bare hands, cleaning secretion and curing every victim, John. G. Lake along with his Holy Ghost filled team, brought to an abrupt end to the spread of the deadly virus. The higher life that put out Ebola in the days of John. G. Lake will do the same through you in your day! At the name of Jesus, Ebola will bow out! Stop the fear! Lake and team are long gone! But I am here, you are here! We can save our world! We have the life of God in us!” Ighodalo wrote in a post on his Facebook page.

Buttressing his claim that Ebola could be cured by the simple laying of hands on the infected individuals, Ighodalo quoted from portions of the Holy Bible.

According to him, if he and any member of his deliverance team laid their hands on those infected with the virus, they would not contract the disease.

“And if they drink any deadly thing (Ebola virus included) it shall not hurt them, they shall lay hand on the sick (those already infected) and they shall recover,” he said, paraphrasing a verse in the Bible.

However, Ighodalo’s claim has attracted angry reactions from Nigerians accusing him of misleading members of the public on the dangers posed by the deadly virus.

In the comments dropped on his Facebook page, Ighodalo was accused of spreading misinformation and falsehood, which according to them is capable of putting more Nigerians at risk of contracting the virus.

An obviously enraged respondent, Oyenuga Lanre-Paul, described Ighodalo’s cure to Ebola as a “suicidal prescription” adding that the clergyman should immediately pull down the post from his Facebook page.

Lanre-Paul challenged Ighodalo to embark on a “journey of salvation” to Liberia, which is currently plagued with the virus and test the efficacy of his cure.

He said, “Ighodalo has prescribed his solution to Ebola virus: laying of hands in faith on those afflicted with the incurable virus! He has, however, failed woefully by biblical standards, by not personally walking his talk: he should demonstrate his faith!

“Let Ighodalo and his band of followers embark on their ‘journey of salvation’ to Liberia and begin to cure by laying their hands on those afflicted with this virus. This is certainly a sure deal for him and his followers, as their success will earn them fame here on earth and a pride of place in heaven.

“Until Ighodalo’s faith shows proof, may I request he pulls down his post and stop teaching us this nonsense?”

Another Nigerian, Ruona Meyer, said Ighodalo should desist from further endangering lives with his said Ebola cure.

“Pastor Ituah! Do you know that this (Ebola outbreak) is so serious that Liberia made it criminal to hide patients and refuse to report Ebola cases? Why are you using your position to say what can make others refuse to get the help they need? I am disappointed,” she said.

Also, a self-employed businessman in Iboro, Ogun State, Adegbenro Makinde warned that the cure being propagated by the cleric was misleading and capable of sending gullible Nigerians to early graves.

Makinde stated that though God is reputed to be “omnipotent and omniscient,” He demands that human beings exercise their discretion on issues as sensitive as the Ebola outbreak.

“Any human being that stretches his hand beyond his protective range will not receive any direct help from the Light. Jesus never jumped from the cliff even with His authority and power over death,” he said, warning Nigerians to be wary of Ighodalo’s Ebola cure.

 

http://www.punchng.com/news/outrage-as-lagos-pastor-boasts-of-ebola-cure/

PDP’s end will be ugly – Tinubu

 

 

Asiwaju Bola Tinubu

 

A former Governor of Lagos State, Asiwaju Bola Tinubu, has predicted that the end of the Peoples Democratic Party will be disgraceful.

He alleged that the impeachment of some All Progressive Congress governors was an attempt to turn Nigeria into a one-party state but vowed that the PDP’s joy over the impeachment would be short-lived.

Tinubu’s media aide, Sunday Dare, said this on his Facebook page in a note titled, “PDP, Jonathan are building on quicksand,” on Monday.

He said it was unfortunate that the PDP-led Federal Government had trivialised the attempt on the life of a former military Head of State, Maj. Gen Muhammadu Buhari (retd.).

He berated the Publicity Secretary of the PDP, Olisa Metuh, for politicising the incident and expressed dissatisfaction in the manner with which investigation was being conducted.

He said, “Olisah Metuh’s recent reaction to the attack on General Buhari and the APC in which he strongly insinuated unreasonably that the APC must have arranged the attack on Buhari is a clear case of dementia. To disrespect General Buhari’s life and dishonour the innocent lives lost in order to score cheap political points is both offensive and unconscionable.

“The sun sets soon for the PDP and the party’s end will be ugly. Under the PDP, Nigeria suffers violence. The PDP takes Nigeria by force.

“The PDP plays with the tiger’s tail by pillaging the economy, brazenly stealing from public funds, subverting the Nigerian constitution, corruption of the police force, military and SSS in a desperate and near-criminal desire to win all elections.

“The truth is out about the culpability of the Presidency and a select few in the military and the President’s cabinet in the ongoing rapacious employment of state apparatus, resources and electoral institutions to impose a one party rule on Nigeria.”

He said President Goodluck Jonathan’s administration was worse than the dictatorship of both General Sani Abacha and General Ibrahim Babangida.

“The military leadership now serves the interest of Jonathan and the ruling party rather than defend the people and the constitution. Once the military is politicised, there goes our democracy,” he added.

 

http://www.punchng.com/news/pdps-end-will-be-ugly-tinubu/

APC, PDP at war in Kwara over funds

 

Saraki, Mu'azu and Ahmed

In this piece, SUCCESS NWOGU takes a look at the war of words between the ruling All Progressives Congress and opposition political parties over the use of revenue which accrued to the Kwara State over the last 10 years.

The use or misuse of federal allocation estimated to be N491.906bn over the last 10 years has been a source of acrimony between the ruling All Progressives Congress and opposition political parties in Kwara State. Although the APC only became a registered party less than one year ago, its leader in the state, Senator Bukola Saraki, ruled the state on the platform of the PDP for eight years before handing over to his political godson, Governor Abdulfatah Ahmed. Saraki’s movement from the PDP into the APC alongside Ahmed changed the political landscape of the state.

The opposition PDP threw the first salvo during a recent retreat it held for its members in Ilorin, the state capital. A leading member of the party, Mr. Bamidele Oyedepo, in his presentation at the event, claimed that the state government earned a staggering N491.906bn beginning from 2003 till date. According to him, the amount represents what the state received from the Federation Account, Internally Generated Revenue, grants and disbursements; sundry refunds and loans; Value Added Tax and excess crude oil. He alleged that there was nothing to show for these huge allocations.

Oyedepo told his audience, “Do you sincerely think the achievements of this government from 2004 is anywhere near the over N491.91bn which has accrued to it? The N491.91bn is made up of annual allocations of N19.18bn in 2004, N266.77bn in 2005, N29.27bn in 2006 and N39.74bm in 2007. N58. 01bn in 2008; N53. 50bn in 2009; N42.85bn in 2010; N72.33bn in 2011; N77.59bn in 2012 and N72.63bn in 2013.”

But Ahmed’s Senior Special Assistant on Media and Communication, Dr. Muyideen Akorede, said the state government earned about N340.3bn between 2003 and 2014. According to him, contrary to the claims by the opposition, the administration received the said amount as its total revenue which includes statutory allocations and Internally Generated Revenue within this period.

Oyedepo argued that the huge amount which accrued to the state during the period under review was more than sufficient to have turned the state economy around. “But what do we have? A dilapidated and moribund economic, industrial and commercial sector policies and practices that have killed the earlier vibrant and growing industries instead of growing new ones and promoting those inherited,” Oyedepo added.

The opposition PDP is not alone. The state chapter of the Labour Party, in its recent state congress, accused the APC-led administration of profligacy. Leading opposition figures in the state which include, Chief Joel Afolabi; Kwara State PDP Chairman, Mr. Iyiola Oyedepo; Deputy National Secretary, LP, Mr. Isa Aremu and a state LP stalwart, Alhaji Abdulhakeem Amao, deplored what they termed bad governance in the state. Afolabi prayed for a new dawn in the governance of Kwara State.

According to Afolabi, upon the death of Kwara political father, Dr. Olusola Saraki, people felt that a new trend would emerge. He, however, expressed disappointment that his heir decided not only to continue where his father stopped he also decided to “wear the face of a tiger.”

Also speaking on the issue, the Kwara PDP chairman said the politics being championed by the APC in the state was retrogressive. He predicted that its end was in sight. He compared the present administration to an old cracked wall, which he said a mere push could pull down. He said, “When governance is reduced to billboards and bogus claims, you should know that the end of the regime is around the corner.”

On his part, Aremu deplored the ubiquitous display of billboards of political personalities in the state and what he called stratification and glorification of persons. Amao alleged that the infrastructure claimed to have been provided by the state were shoddy jobs passed off as genuine.

He said, “What they are doing is no development at all. The basic necessities of human beings such as food and shelter are not being provided. You are rounding off all our investments in the name of privatisation.”

While critics of government decry what they call lack of human and infrastructural development, the state government and its supporters dismiss critics as those who are trying to play the ostrich.

A former aide to Saraki on Political Matters, Alhaji Sulyman Yusuf, said most critics of Saraki and Ahmed’s administrations were products and beneficiaries of the Saraki political dynasty. According to him, their allegation that the state lacks development is untrue. He said many of the critics played prominent roles during the Bukola Saraki-led administration, adding that they were only complaining because they had fallen out of favour with Saraki political dynasty.

Yusuf defended the records of the administrations of Saraki and Ahmed. He said, “We know how Post Office, Ilorin, Unity Roundabout, Asa Dam and Airport Road looked like. Today, we see monumental development in Kwara. Even during military regimes, in housing for instance, Saraki was the one that first built housing estates for local governments outside Ilorin. All other past administrations, military or civilian, concentrated in Ilorin, the state capital.”

Yusuf, an APC chieftain, stated that many rural areas which lacked good roads had all been linked with good road network.

Speaking in a similar vein, Akorede said Kwara State of 2003 bears no resemblance to Kwara State of 2014, claiming that the positive transformation was obvious to all. He argued that those who were just returning to the state after being away for so long could testify that the state had witnessed rapid infrastructural development, socially and economically. According to him, it is clear that the monies that have come into the state have been put to judicious use.

He also revealed that about 70 per cent of federal allocations to the state go towards paying salaries and wages of workers in the state.

Akorede equally listed some projects which he claimed were testimonies to the administration’s prudent management of state resources. Some of them include the state-owned university, rural roads as well as housing schemes.

He maintained that even opponents of the administration could not deny the fact that it had done well for the state in spite of its limited resources and the challenges posed by political interference of detractors. The state government, he posited, opened up rural areas and made development inclusive. Akorede reiterated that government’s reforms had transformed primary and secondary education through curriculum upgrade and teacher training, which has also been enhanced with the Education Resource Center, Ilorin, where science teachers are trained.

This, he said, was in addition to the upgrade of teaching and learning facilities in schools across the state. The Senior Special Assistant said more than 500 communities were also enjoying electricity supply courtesy of the state government because of the administration’s investment in the power sector. His list of the administration’s achievements extended to the health and sports sectors where the state has remained competitive in terms of manpower and basic infrastructure.

According to him, it was to the credit of the administration that the state has the second lowest level of unemployment rate in the country. This, he said, was in line with the official figures released by the Federal Office of Statistics.

“In the last four years, government has employed 10, 200 youths including 2, 000 civil servants through KWABES and another 500 employed directly by the Civil Service Commission,” he said.

But political observers insist that Kwara State still has a lot of catching up to do in terms of development. Those in this school of thought argue that the state which has a lot of potential in terms of agricultural development requires more than sloganeering to attain the required height.

Although currently a senator, Dr. Bukola Saraki, the scion of the late strongman of Ilorin politics, Dr. Olusola Saraki, still has a vice-like grip on the politics of the state.

His decision to defect from the PDP on whose platform he ruled the state for eight unbroken years has pitted him against political interests at the state and federal levels.

For now, Saraki still dictates the political tunes in Kwara State although members of the opposition political parties have vowed to stop him and his political godson, Ahmed, from continuing in governance.

How far they are ready to go remains to be seen because the 2015 general elections, which will determine who has the last say, is barely seven months away.

 

 

http://www.punchng.com/politics/apc-pdp-at-war-in-kwara-over-funds/

Six reasons why Israel is on the back foot even as it wins the battle against rockets and tunnels

Why Is Israel Losing a War It’s Winning?

Six reasons why Israel is on the back foot even as it wins the battle against rockets and tunnels
 

An Israeli officer in a Hamas tunnel (Jack Guez/Reuters)

Things change, of course—the only constant in the Middle East is sudden and dramatic change—but as I write it seems as if Israel is losing the war in Gaza, even as it wins the battle against Hamas’s rocket arsenal, and even as it destroys the tunnels meant to convey terrorists underground to Israel (and to carry Israeli hostages back to Gaza). 

This is not the first time Israel has found itself losing on the battlefield of perception. Why is it happening again? Here are six possible reasons:

1. In a fight between a state actor and a non-state actor, the non-state actor can win merely by surviving. The party with tanks and planes is expected to win; the non-state group merely has to stay alive in order to declare victory. In a completely decontextualized, emotion-driven environment, Hamas can portray itself as the besieged upstart, even when it is the party that rejects ceasefires, and in particular because it is skilled at preventing journalists from documenting the activities of its armed wing. (I am differentiating here between Hamas’s leadership and Gaza’s civilians, who are genuinely besieged, from all directions.)

2. Hamas’s strategy is to bait Israel into killing Palestinian civilians, and Israel usually takes the bait. This time, because of the cautious nature of its prime minister, Israel waited longer than usual before succumbing to the temptation of bait-taking, but it took it all the same. (As I’ve written, the seemingly miraculous Iron Dome anti-rocket system could have provided Israel with the space to be more patient than it was.) Hamas’s principal goal is killing Jews, and it is very good at this (for those who have forgotten about Hamas’s achievements in this area, here is a reminder, and also here and here), but it knows that it advances its own (perverse) narrative even more when it induces Israel to kill Palestinian civilians. This tactic would not work if the world understood this, and rejected it. But in the main, it doesn’t. Why people don’t see the cynicism at the heart of terrorist groups like Hamas is a bit of a mystery. Here is The Washington Post on the subject:

The depravity of Hamas’s strategy seems lost on much of the outside world, which — following the terrorists’ script — blames Israel for the civilian casualties it inflicts while attempting to destroy the tunnels. While children die in strikes against the military infrastructure that Hamas’s leaders deliberately placed in and among homes, those leaders remain safe in their own tunnels. There they continue to reject cease-fire proposals, instead outlining a long list of unacceptable demands.

3. People talk a lot about the Jewish lobby. But the worldwide Muslim lobby is bigger, comprising, among other components, 54 Muslim-majority states in the United Nations. Many Muslims naturally sympathize with the Palestinian cause. They make their voices heard, and they help shape a global anti-Israel narrative, in particular by focusing relentlessly on Gaza to the exclusion of conflicts in which Muslims are being killed in even greater numbers, but by Muslims (I wrote about this phenomenon here).

4. If you’ve spent any time these past few weeks on Twitter, or in Paris, you know that anti-Semitism is another source of Israel’s international isolation. One of the notable features of this war, brought to light by the ubiquity and accessibility of social media, is the open, unabashed expression of vitriolic Jew-hatred. Anti-Semitism has been with us for more than 2,000 years; it is an ineradicable and shape-shifting virus. The reaction to the Gaza war—from the Turkish prime minister, who compared Israel’s behavior unfavorably to that of Hitler’s, to the Lebanese journalist who demanded the nuclear eradication of Israel, to, of course, the anti-Jewish riots in France—is a reminder that much of the world is not opposed to Israel because of its settlement policy, but because it is a Jewish country.

5. Israel’s political leadership has done little in recent years to make their cause seem appealing. It is impossible to convince a Judeophobe that Israel can do anything good or useful, short of collective suicide. But there are millions of people of good will across the world who look at the decision-making of Israel’s government and ask themselves if this is a country doing all it can do to bring about peace and tranquility in its region. Hamas is a theocratic fascist cult committed to the obliteration of Israel. But it doesn’t represent all Palestinians. Polls suggest that it may very well not represent all of the Palestinians in Gaza. There is a spectrum of Palestinian opinion, just as there is a spectrum of Jewish opinion.

I don’t know if the majority of Palestinians would ultimately agree to a two-state solution. But I do know that Israel, while combating the extremists, could do a great deal more to buttress the moderates. This would mean, in practical terms, working as hard as possible to build wealth and hope on the West Bank. A moderate-minded Palestinian who watches Israel expand its settlements on lands that most of the world believes should fall within the borders of a future Palestinian state might legitimately come to doubt Israel’s intentions. Reversing the settlement project, and moving the West Bank toward eventual independence, would not only give Palestinians hope, but it would convince Israel’s sometimes-ambivalent friends that it truly seeks peace, and that it treats extremists differently than it treats moderates. And yes, I know that in the chaos of the Middle East, which is currently a vast swamp of extremism, the thought of a West Bank susceptible to the predations of Islamist extremists is a frightening one. But independence—in particular security independence—can be negotiated in stages. The Palestinians must go free, because there is no other way. A few months ago, President Obama told me how he views Israel’s future absent some sort of arrangement with moderate Palestinians: 

[M]y assessment, which is shared by a number of Israeli observers … is there comes a point where you can’t manage this anymore, and then you start having to make very difficult choices. Do you resign yourself to what amounts to a permanent occupation of the West Bank? Is that the character of Israel as a state for a long period of time? Do you perpetuate, over the course of a decade or two decades, more and more restrictive policies in terms of Palestinian movement? Do you place restrictions on Arab-Israelis in ways that run counter to Israel’s traditions?

Obama raised a series of prescient questions. Of course, the Israeli government’s primary job at the moment is to keep its citizens from being killed or kidnapped by Hamas. But it should work to find an enduring solution to the problem posed by Muslim extremism. Part of that fix is military, but another part isn’t.

6. Speaking of the Obama administration, the cause of a two-state solution would be helped, and Israel’s standing would be raised, if the secretary of state, John Kerry, realized that such a solution will be impossible to achieve so long as an aggressive and armed Hamas remains in place in Gaza. Kerry’s recent efforts to negotiate a ceasefire have come to nothing in part because his proposals treat Hamas as a legitimate organization with legitimate security needs, as opposed to a group listed by Kerry’s State Department as a terror organization devoted to the physical elimination of one of America’s closest allies. Here is David Horovitz’s understanding of Kerry’s proposals:

It seemed inconceivable that the secretary’s initiative would specify the need to address Hamas’s demands for a lifting of the siege of Gaza, as though Hamas were a legitimate injured party acting in the interests of the people of Gaza — rather than the terror group that violently seized control of the Strip in 2007, diverted Gaza’s resources to its war effort against Israel, and could be relied upon to exploit any lifting of the “siege” in order to import yet more devastating weaponry with which to kill Israelis.

I’m not sure why Kerry’s proposals for a ceasefire seem to indulge the organization that initiated this current war. Perhaps because Kerry may be listening more to Qatar, which is Hamas’s primary funder, than he is listening to the Jordanians, Emiratis, Saudis, and Egyptians, all of whom oppose Hamas to an equivalent or greater degree than does their ostensible Israeli adversary. In any case, more on this later, as more details emerge about Kerry’s efforts. For purposes of this discussion, I’ll just say that Israel won’t have a chance of winning the current struggle against Hamas’s tunnel-diggers and rocket squads if its principal ally doesn’t appear to fully and publicly understand Hamas’s nihilistic war aims, even as it works to shape more constructive Israeli policies in other, related areas.

 

http://www.theatlantic.com/international/archive/2014/07/why-is-israel-losing-a-war-its-winning/375116/

Gaza City and Eshkol hit by deadly explosions

The BBC’s Chris Morris: “Fighting seems to have resumed with a vengeance”

Gaza and southern Israel have seen an upsurge in violence despite a plea by the UN secretary general for a cessation of hostilities.

Explosions in Gaza City reportedly killed 10 people, including children.

Palestinian militant group Hamas said it had carried out a mortar attack that reportedly killed four civilians inside Israel near the Gaza border.

And Israel said five Hamas militants were shot dead after entering an Israeli village from Gaza.

Earlier, UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon urged an immediate halt to the violence in Gaza, saying the Palestinian territory was in a “critical condition”.

“In the name of humanity, the violence must stop,” he told reporters.

Israel launched an offensive against Hamas in Gaza three weeks ago after a surge in rocket fire.

Ban Ki-moon: “In the name of humanity, the violence must stop”

Before Monday, more than 1,030 Palestinians, mostly civilians, 43 Israeli soldiers and three civilians in Israeli had been killed.

At least 10 people – eight of them children – were killed in Monday afternoon’s blasts in Gaza City, Palestinian health officials said.

Palestinian officials say the 10 were killed by Israeli missile strikes, but Israel says the explosions were caused by rockets misfired by “terrorists”.

Reports on Israeli public radio and Channel 10 television said four civilians were killed and another 10 people injured when a mortar shell hit the Eshkol district.

The Israeli military said the five militants who died had entered Israel via a tunnel from Gaza and opened fire on Israeli troops, who returned fire.

 
Palestinian Muslims mark Eid al-Fitr in Gaza City, 28 July

At the scene: Martin Patience, BBC News, Gaza City

There was chaos, confusion, and grief as the latest casualties of this conflict were rushed into Gaza’s main hospital.

Among the victims were children, caught up in a conflict they cannot possibly understand. They had been playing outside during a lull in the fighting.

One man told me he was at home when he heard a huge explosion. He rushed outside and the street was full of bodies.

Hamas says the children were hit by an Israeli strike. But Israel denies this – saying the blast was caused by a misfired Palestinian rocket.

The attack punctured what had been a day of relative calm in Gaza.

Today was the start of a three-day religious festival to mark the end of Ramadan. Some Gazans prayed in mosques damaged by the fighting. You could see children playing in the park on swings.

Eid al-Fitr is supposed to be a time of joy and celebration. But for the moment there is only sorrow and anger in Gaza.

 

‘Political will’

Mr Ban, who spoke in New York after returning from a visit to the region, was critical of both sides for firing into civilian areas.

He said Hamas had fired missiles into civilian areas of Israel, while Israeli forces had used high-explosive weapons in the crowded Gaza Strip.

Mr Ban said the people of Gaza had nowhere to run to, and he emphasised that participants in conflicts had a responsibility to protect civilians.

He reiterated the UN’s call for an immediate, unconditional humanitarian ceasefire in Gaza during the Muslim Eid al-Fitr holiday.

“It’s a matter of their political will. They have to show their humanity as leaders, both Israeli and Palestinian,” he said.

Later, the French presidency said the leaders of the United States, France, Germany, Italy and Britain – who held telephone talks – had “agreed to redouble their efforts to obtain a ceasefire. Pressure must increase to get there”.

Palestinian children play at a UN school in Jabaliya refugee camp, Gaza, 28 July Palestinian children play at a UN school in Gaza’s Jabaliya refugee camp
Palestinian children rest on the floor at a UN school in Jabaliya refugee camp, Gaza, 28 July More than 100,000 Palestinians have been displaced from their homes
Palestinian women visit a grave in Gaza, 28 July Palestinian women visit a grave in Gaza
Israelis take cover as a siren warning of incoming rockets sounds in the southern city of Ashkelon Israelis take cover as a siren warning of incoming rockets sounds in the southern city of Ashkelon
An Israeli soldier sleeps on the border with Gaza, 28 July An Israeli soldier asleep on the border with Gaza on Monday
Empty shells beside an Israeli tank near the Gaza border, 28 July Empty shells beside an Israeli tank near the Gaza border
 

At the scene: Bethany Bell, BBC News, Jerusalem

While Israel’s PM Benjamin Netanyahu is facing increasing international pressure for a ceasefire, at home there is strong public support for the offensive in Gaza.

A poll published by Israel’s Channel 10 TV on Sunday suggested 87% of Israelis were in favour – and just 7% wanted a full ceasefire.

There are concerns about the rising number of casualties among Israeli soldiers but people here want the rocket fire on Israel to stop. The sound of sirens over central and southern Israel has become part of everyday life. And many are very concerned about the new threat posed by the network of cross-border tunnels from Gaza.

At her home on a kibbutz close to the Gaza border, one woman said she was afraid. Rockets can be intercepted by Iron Dome, she told me, referring to Israel’s missile defence system.

“But there’s no Iron Dome protection against Hamas fighters coming up through the tunnels to kidnap and kill us.”

 

Israel launched its military offensive on 8 July with the declared objective of stopping Hamas, the Islamist group which controls Gaza, firing rockets from Gaza into Israel.

On 18 July, it extended operations with a ground offensive, saying it was necessary to destroy tunnels dug by militants to infiltrate Israel.

 

http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/world-middle-east-28529612