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Israel rolls out new sanctions against Palestine

It’s another factor pushing the two sides further apart: Israel wants to restrict the transfer of taxes and duties to the Palestinians, Israeli media report, citing an Israeli government official. According to that information, the finances are to be held back to pay Palestinians’ outstanding dues, for example with the Israeli electricity company. Saeb Erekat, Palestinian negotiator in the peace talks, has called these measures “theft,” according to the Israeli news portal “Ynetnews.”

Even before that, Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu had forbidden his cabinet members to contact their Palestinian counterparts in Ramallah. The only exceptions are Justice Minister Tzipi Livni, who is also in charge of the peace talks with Palestine, and the officials who are crucial for the Israel-Palestine security cooperation. Granted, there is usually not much of an exchange between the authorities anyway. But this explicit muzzle is still considered an escalation in the peace talks, which seem to be in a rut. And Israeli media report that more sanctions might follow.

Reactions to Palestine’s political maneuvering

Kerry has scolded Netanyahu’s government

The Israeli government is reacting to the diplomatic advance by Palestine’s President Mahmoud Abbas, who signed 15 international conventions last week (as seen in the article photo), including the Geneva Conventions. Originally, the Palestinians had promised not to take any “unilateral” steps with the UN during the nine months of the current peace talks. They are, however, accusing Israel of not sticking with the promise to release 26 Palestinian prisoners in March. Only when that became clear, the Palestinians say, did they decide to sign the conventions.

The Palestinian request to join the Geneva Conventions was officially confirmed by Switzerland on Friday (11.04.2014). The four Geneva Conventions deal with the protection of civilians in occupied territories, among other things, and could cause trouble for Israel because of its settlement policies in the Palestinian territories.

Penalties an established method to apply pressure for Israel

In 2012, Israel had held back taxes and duties it usually collects and forwards to the Palestinians once before. The reason back then: Palestine was recognized as an observer state by the UN; an act Israel had rejected.

People in Ramallah have learned to expect sanctions, Mohammed Shtajeh says. “We shouldn’t let ourselves be blackmailed by economic measures,” President Abbas’ close confidant adds. Until recently, he was a negotiator in the Palestinian peace talks team. “Palestine’s economy is in a rough place, and has been for a while. We’re used to stumbling from one crisis into the next.” Shtajeh still believes that neither Israel nor the US could have an interest in seeing the Palestinian Authority collapse completely.

He says Palestinians are counting on help from the EU and Arab states. The Arab League promised to support the Palestinian Authority with 100 Million Dollar a month in a meeting on Wednesday. At the same time, the League would also welcome the continuation of the Israeli-Palestinian talks, sources in Cairo say.

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Dropbox, Condoleezza Rice controversy: More proof liberals …

Silicon Valley liberals spent millions of dollars funding President Obamas re-election and have been some of the lefts most ardent supporters of progressive causes. And they are just getting started. After helping give America ObamaCare, medical marijuana and a feeble foreign policy, the young tech geniuses are now trying to purge conservatives and those who support conservative causes from corporate board rooms.

On the heels of calling for Mozilla CEO Brendan Eich to resign for the liberal sin of disagreeing with their view of gay marriage comes a campaign to pressure Dropbox to drop former Secretary of State Condi Rice from their board.Rices sin, in Silicon Valleys eyes, is serving as Americas Secretary of State and National Security Advisor to a Republican president.

For decades, the liberal media eviscerated the religious right and other conservatives for their own attacks against liberal social causes. Over time, the media labeled anyone who didnt agree with the lefts world view as intolerant. Progressive journalists were quick to support the Democrats meme of their opponents as mean-spirited, bigoted, homophobic or racist.

But the pendulum has now swung the other way. Diversity is no longer about differing views. The new bullies are the left. Yesterdays champions of diversity have become todays intolerants. Black, gay and Hispanic conservatives are labeled self-haters and considered sell-outs to their communities. The left sees no place for differing opinions. In fact, if you have a minority opinion from the majority liberal view then you will be run out of the room.

Silicon Valleys liberal media allies jumped on board with the Rice boycott almost immediately. Wired Magazines Marcus Wohlsen, a Berkeley, Calif. resident, wrote this as his lead for the Dropbox announcement: Condoleezza Rice Stanford professor, Iraq War architect, alleged warrantless wiretap supporter is joining the board at the rising tech startup. Wohlsen failed to mention that Dr. Rice was the former National Security Advisor and Secretary of State.

Wohlsens piece goes on to argue that Rice should be dropped from the board because Americans wont trust her and therefore the company.

Wohlsens assumption that all Americans are Democrats leaves out the possibility that Republicans may not trust corporate Americas liberal board members.

Then theres liberal Silicon Valley reporter Brian Feldman who laughably argues that Condis appointment to Dropbox is in the same category as Twitter not having a female board member and Mozilla hiring an anti-gay homophobe as its CEO.

We all know that President Obamas liberal NSC advisor Susan Rice would be perfectly welcome on a corporate board by the progressive scions of Silicon Valley. But that other black woman who made her own way to the top of the State Department and NSC isnt acceptable to the mob.

Is any more proof needed that liberals are the new intolerants?

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Dropbox, Condoleezza Rice controversy: More proof liberals …

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Palestine applies to UN bodies

In a move signalling its frustration with the pace and direction of peace talks with Israel, the Ramallah-based Palestinian Authority (PA) has decided to apply for the membership of 15 UN bodies and treaties, including the body that oversees implementation of the Fourth Geneva Convention.

The move met with resentment by Israeli officials, while US diplomats continued to propose up with new ideas to save the faltering peace talks, which were slated to conclude by the end of April.

The Palestinian move is widely seen as a reaction to Israels refusal to release a fourth batch of prisoners who were supposed to be freed 29 March. Israeli officials said that they were not going to release further prisoners unless the PA promised to extend the peace talks.

Palestinian-Israeli talks resumed in late July after a three-year hiatus in the hope of reaching a framework agreement addressing the thorniest issues of the conflict: The delineation of borders, security arrangements, the status of Jerusalem, and the rights of refugees. The talks ground to a halt over Israels request that the Palestinians recognise its Jewishness.

Israel had agreed to release long-serving Palestinian prisoners, held before the signing of Oslo Accords in 1993. Those prisoners, numbering 104, were supposed to be released in four batches. Three batches have been freed, but Israel reneged on its promise to release the fourth batch, asking the Palestinians to agree to extend the duration of the talks first.

So far, 78 prisoners have been released, with the fourth batch comprising only 14 men.

PA President Mahmoud Abbas signed the documents applying or membership in the UN bodies in a televised ceremony. His action, described as unilateral by the Israelis, was calculated to show discontent with the direction and pace of the peace talks.

But Abbas stopped short of dismissing the peace talks altogether. Instead, he claimed that applying for membership of UN bodies was a Palestinian right and had nothing to do with the peace process.

Abbas even stated that the Palestinian leadership is determined to reach a settlement through negotiations and peaceful resistance. Anything else is rejected, he said in what observers say was a reference to the methods of armed struggle advocated by rival Palestinian factions.

The Palestinian president was also careful not to alienate the Americans. This step is not meant to annoy anyone. We dont want to use this right against anyone. We dont want to clash with the US administration because it is helping us and it has made great efforts. But we didnt find another way, Abbas said.

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Utah Gay-Marriage Ban Questioned by U.S. Appellate Judges

Utahs gay-marriage ban had state lawyers on the defensive at a hearing before the first federal appeals panel to consider such laws since a June U.S. Supreme Court ruling set off a nationwide series of challenges to them.

An attorney for Utah Republican Governor Gary Herbert asked the U.S. Court of Appeals in Denver at a hearing today to revive the states 2004 voter-approved ban after it was struck down by a Salt Lake City federal judge in December.

Legal momentum is against the state. Gay marriage proponents have enjoyed a victory streak in state and federal courts in the past year. Next week, the same three-judge appeals panel is set to review a January ruling that voided Oklahomas similar 2004 law.

Jerome Holmes, one of the three judges, today drew comparisons between Utahs ban and Virginias prohibition on interracial marriages that was overturned by the Supreme Court in 1967.

In this case, why is it any different? Holmes asked, adding that for the plaintiffs in the Utah case, the only thing that bars them from getting married is gender. Using the Virginia lawsuit as a comparison, race in this case is gender, said Holmes, a 2006 nominee of Republican President George W. Bush.

The Supreme Courts decision last June in U.S. v. Windsor, which overturned part of the federal Defense of Marriage Act, stopped short of declaring a right to gay marriage. The 5-4 ruling only required that the U.S. government recognize same-sex marriages from those states where theyre legal.

Invalidating Utahs law, U.S. District Judge Robert Shelby of Salt Lake City said that while the Windsor case may not provide a clear answer, other Supreme Court rulings have shown that individual rights take precedence over states rights when the two are in conflict.

While same-sex marriage has been legalized in 21 states plus the District of Columbia, the Utah, Oklahoma, Virginia and Michigan rulings are on hold pending the outcome of appeals. The Virginia challenge will be reviewed by the U.S. Court of Appeals in Richmond, while Michigans case will be heard by an appeals panel in Cincinnati.

Shelby was appointed in 2011 by President Barack Obama and Terrence Kern, the judge who ruled the Oklahoma ban was unconstitutional, was named to the bench in 1994 by then-President Bill Clinton. Obama and Clinton are Democrats.

Hearing todays argument with Holmes were U.S. circuit judges Paul J. Kelly, a 1991 nominee of Republican President George H.W. Bush, and Carlos Lucero, a 1995 Clinton appointee.

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Utah Gay-Marriage Ban Questioned by U.S. Appellate Judges

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West Bank settlers derided as terrorists for turning on their own army (+video)

Extremist Jewish settlers attacked a nearby IDF encampment after several mobile homes in a settlement outpost were demolished. Israeli security officials called for harsh measures.

For years extremist Jewish settlers have targeted Palestinians in retaliation for Israeli government efforts to curtail settlement growth, typically receiving only light punishment. But this week they turned on the soldiers charged with protecting them and they may have gone too far.

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On Tuesday, residents of the settlement Yitzhar and other sympathizers attacked a nearby Israel Defense Forces encampment staffed by reservists, destroying their living quarters. Condemnation has been swift and strident: Current and former government officials have called for the attackers to be labeled terrorists and rounded up. The overarching sentiment is that Israel’s so-called “price tag” settlersare out of control.

“What is going on in the territories is Jewish terror,” Ami Ayalon, a former head of the Israeli intelligence agency Shin Bet, told Yediot Ahronot. “All of the other definitions coming from the prime minister, from the ministers, or the president ‘hate crime,’ bad weeds,’ and such are meaningless. Laundered words. And until they do this, they wont solve the problem.”

This isn’t the first time that vigilante settlers, who use the term “price tag” for their revenge attacks on Palestinians in response to Israeli efforts to curtail settlements, have attacked IDF targets. But they have never lashed out at guardposts of their own settlements, nor at reservists, who are seen by Israelis as sacrificing work and family for the state.

Security experts blame Israel’s army, police, and government for yielding to the vigilante settlers for years, which emboldened them to risk igniting widespread Palestinian unrest.

“If such an incident had occurred in an Arab village, the IDF would go from house to house, search for illegal weapons, and try to arrest the law breakers,” wrote Alex Fishman, a defense analyst in the daily Yediot Ahronot newspaper. “Now the army is slightly annoying the residents leaving the settlement, checking papers, asking questions. The police made an arrest. Thats nothing.”

The IDF encampment sits on anisolated plateaubetween the hilltop settlement of Yitzhar and two Palestinian villages in the valley below.On Tuesday morning, dozens of settlers roused the reservist soldiers from sleep and told them stand down. They proceeded to destroy a tent, a latrine, and a gas heating installation.

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Utah Gay-Marriage Appeal Seen as Supreme Court Rehersal

Gay-marriage bans struck down in Utah and Oklahoma are the first to come before a federal appeals panel since a June U.S. Supreme Court ruling set off a string of challenges to limits on same-sex marriage.

Lawyers for Utah Republican Governor Gary Herbert are seeking to revive that states 2004 voter-approved ban at a hearing scheduled today before the U.S. Court of Appeals in Denver. Legal momentum is against them. Gay marriage proponents have enjoyed a victory streak in state and federal courts in the past year. In a week, the same three-judge appeals panel is set to review a January ruling that voided Oklahomas similar 2004 law.

It is possible that the Supreme Court will decide to review one of these cases, so its very significant, Shannon Minter, legal director for the National Center for Lesbian Rights, said in an interview. His group is challenging the Utah law.

The Supreme Courts decision last June in U.S. v. Windsor, which overturned part of the federal Defense of Marriage Act, stopped short of declaring a right to gay marriage. The 5-4 ruling only required that the U.S. government recognize same-sex marriages from those states where theyre legal.

That touched off a spate of litigation over gay-marriage prohibitions in Texas, Wisconsin, Ohio, Kentucky, Indiana and elsewhere, as well as decisions invalidating such measures in New Jersey, Virginia and Michigan.

While same-sex marriage has been legalized in 21 states plus the District of Columbia, the Utah, Oklahoma, Virginia and Michigan rulings are on hold pending the outcome of appeals. The Virginia challenge will be reviewed by the U.S. Court of Appeals in Richmond, while Michigans case will be heard by an appeals panel in Cincinnati.

Any court of appeals case is a dress rehearsal for the Supreme Court, said Northwestern University law professor Andrew Koppelman, author of Same Sex, Different States: When Same-Sex Marriages Cross State Lines.

It seems quite probable that one of the courts of appeal is going to declare there is a right to same-sex marriage, Koppelman said. If that happens, theres no way the Supreme Court is going to turn that case away.

Charles Fried, a professor of law at Harvard University and former U.S. Solicitor General — the Justice Departments top litigator — agreed that a ruling upholding the lower court in either the Utah or Oklahoma case almost assures Supreme Court review.

If either one of them comes in yes, then I think they have to take it, said Fried, who served under President Ronald Reagan, They cannot leave a court of appeals decision out there on a matter like this — that the state law of several states is unconstitutional.

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10th Circuit appeals court to hear oral arguments about Utah's gay marriage ban

Euell Santistevan of Denver holds a rainbow flag during a protest outside the Federal Courthouse in downtown Denver on Wednesday, April 9, 2014. (David Zalubowski, AP)

Opponents in the gay marriage debate will give oral arguments Thursday morning concerning Utah’s gay marriage ban before a panel of three 10th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals judges.

Kitchen vs. Herbert is the first such case in which a state has defended its gay marriage ban at the federal appellate level. Legal experts expect that the issue of gay marriage is headed to the U. S. Supreme Court.

The same panel of judges will hear oral arguments in Oklahoma’s gay marriage case next Thursday.

Scores of gay rights and traditional marriage adherents have submitted friends of the court briefs in the 10th Circuit.

The plaintiffs are three same-sex couples who live in Utah. Colorado has two same-sex marriage cases.

The judges are Paul J. Kelly Jr., a Notre Dame graduate appointed by President George Bush; Jerome Holmes, the 10th Circuit’s first black judge appointed by Bush’s son George W. Bush; and Carlos F. Lucero, a Colorado jurist who graduated and later taught at Adams State College in Alamosa. He was appointed by former President Bill Clinton.

Holmes, who has a conservative track record in many circuit decisions, recently stunned court watchers after U.S. District Judge Robert Shelby declared Utah’s gay marriage ban unconstitutional by refusing to stay the decision pending appeals.

The move allowed 1,335 gay and lesbian couples to marry over a period of 17 days until the U.S. Supreme Court stayed Shelby’s decision.

Kirk Mitchell: 303-954-1206, denverpost.com/coldcaseskmitchell or twitter.com/kmitchelldp

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Gaza Athlete Still Running Despite Marathon Ban

GAZA Kicking up dust on the back roads of northern Gaza within sight of the Israeli fence that seals off the enclave, Olympic athlete Nader Al-Masri is still training, despite being barred from competing in his people’s largest sporting event. Masri, who has participated in 40 international contests including the 2008 Olympics in Beijing, was denied a permit by Israeli authorities to travel to the occupied West Bank for the Palestine Marathon on Friday. I’m sad. This is a race for all Palestine and I wanted to participate, but unfortunately the Israeli side coldly rejected me, said the 34-year-old policeman. The Palestine Marathon, was inaugurated last year as an expression of statehood and of the right to free movement demanded by Palestinians. This year it is being run against the backdrop of heightened diplomatic tensions, with Israeli-Palestinian peace talks on the verge of collapse amidst mutual recriminations In a statement to Reuters, an Israeli government body in charge of permits said: The marathon is supported by the Palestinian Authority and is tainted by political shades which delegitimize the State of Israel. It said Masri’s case did not meet the requirements for travel out of Gaza, without elaborating. He was also barred from running in last year’s race – which starts in the West Bank town of Bethlehem and loops round a 10 km route. Frontrunner I would’ve easily come in first … I know my record and I know the other people’s records, Masri told Reuters. As he trained near his hometown of Beit Hanoun, children sprinted to his side and tried to match his stride before falling back. Neighbors cheered Nader as he passed. People encourage me to continue my sport, telling me the ban isn’t the end and there will be more contests, he said. Masri was one of 30 runners from Gaza whose permit requests were rejected by Israel, according to Gisha, an Israeli human rights group which litigated Masri’s case up to the level of Israel’s Supreme Court. The right to freedom of movement which should have been a central consideration was given no weight, said Gisha spokeswoman Shai Grunberg. It would also seem to run counter to public statements made by security officials themselves about Israel’s interest in facilitating normal life for civilians in Gaza, she added. Travel permits are not Palestinian athletes’ only concern, Masri said, bemoaning a lack of government funding. As you see, we train in the streets and most of the time in areas adjacent to the border, said Masri. Sometimes shots are fired as I run – not at me – but once a shell exploded 500 meters away, he said. Not far from where Masri trained, gunfire echoed and Palestinian medical officials later said two people collecting gravel from near the fence with Israel were wounded when soldiers opened fire to disperse them from the area. The Islamist group Hamas runs Gaza after seizing control in 2007, ousting forces loyal to President Mahmoud Abbas one year after Hamas won parliamentary elections. The takeover prompted an Israeli-led embargo on the Islamist faction which does not recognize Israel’s right to exist.

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SATO Group Establishes Global Key Account Business Unit And Appoints Hisashi Asai As General Manager

SATO, a leader in barcode printing, labeling, and EPC/RFID solutions, announced the establishment of a new Global Key Account (GKA) business unit and the appointment of Hisashi Asai as General Manager on 1 April 2014 in response to growing customer demand for dedicated one-stop services, particularly among industry-leading businesses engaged in global expansion.

The GKA business unit consists of cross functional teams dedicated to each of our select MNC customers who would value global business arrangement more than any other forms of local or regional support. The GKA will provide comprehensive customized solutions in product supply, technical support, R&D, maintenance services, integration and global deployments.

Hisashi Asai joins from Fujifilm where he has held several senior management positions in his 24 years career with the company. An MBA graduate from Waseda University, Hisashi Asai also held President role in 3 of its subsidiaries and has over 8 years of overseas working experience in Germany and China.

SATO presents an exciting opportunity for success, Hisashi Asai commented. With the establishment of the GKA business unit, we are in the position to deliver the full value of our solutions to key customers and managed raised expectation. I look forward to working with the team to enhance our presence with these customers as SATO goes global.

This initiative is an integral part of our continuous effort towards maximization of customer value in the context of accelerated globalization, said Kaz Matsuyama, President and CEO of SATO Holdings Corporation. I strongly believe that the combination of company-wide expertise and dedicated end-to-end customer support provided by the GKA team will further strengthen SATOs unique position as the leading provider of integrated AIDC solutions worldwide.

About SATO SATO is a pioneer and leading global provider of integrated Automatic Identification and Data Collection solutions that leverage barcode and RFID technologies. SATO manufactures innovative, reliable auto-identification systems and offers complete solutions to businesses by integrating hardware, software, consumables and maintenance services. SATOs solutions enable businesses to realize precision, labor and resource savings that help preserve the environment and deliver peace of mind to consumers. All of which contribute to the development of a sustainable world.

Founded in 1940, SATO is publicly listed on the first section of Tokyo Stock Exchange in Japan. It has sales and support offices in over 20 countries and is represented globally through a world-class network of partners. For the fiscal year ended March 31, 2013, it reported revenues of JPY 87,256 million (US$ 1.0524B). For more information, visit www.satoworldwide.com.

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Robert Bennett: More, rather than less, political speech is a good thing

Last week the Supreme Court overturned existing limits on the total amount of money an individual can donate to political campaigns. (Limits on donations to individual candidates remain in place.) Liberal commentators claim this decision undermines democracy; Conservatives declare it a victory for free speech.

Free speech has not always been seen as an unalloyed good in America. In the early days after the Constitution was ratified, those in office were so offended by what was being said by their opponents that they passed the Alien and Sedition Acts, making it illegal to criticize certain governmental actions.

Fortunately, those laws disappeared after Jefferson became President, but uneasiness with the idea that anyone can say whatever he wants in the political arena remained. During World War I the Wilson Administration prosecuted pacifists, pro-German activists and others seen as either radical or un-patriotic for expressing their views. Few seemed to object at the time.

In 1927, the Supreme Court began to change this. In a concurring opinion that one legal scholar has called extraordinarly influential, Justice Brandeis said that freedom of speech was essential to rational political debate. In the 1950s, the Warren Court went further and included expressions of opinion by cultural radicals. Freedom of speech became a cause that liberal jurists embraced.

After the Watergate scandal, Congress passed laws limiting the amounts of money people could give to political campaigns, as well as the amounts candidates could spend, in order prevent corruption or the appearance of corruption. (Im troubled by that latter phrase. Should we really prohibit things that arent wrong just because, to some, they appear to be?)

James Buckley, a candidate for the Senate who was wealthy enough to finance his own campaign, challenged the Watergate limits on personal expenditures. He argued, Under the First Amendment, I have an unlimited right to free speech. How am I corrupted when I exercise that right by using my own money?

The Supreme Court sided with Buckley in the landmark case of Buckley v. Valeo in 1976, ruling that his constitutional right of free speech trumped the Watergate laws. He could not donate to other candidates in amounts that would give the appearance of corruption, but he could spend his own money to express his own views in whatever amounts he wanted. The author of that opinion was Justice William Brennan, the courts most liberal member. At the time, the ACLU thought it was too weak. Freedom of speech had become a dominant liberal value.

No more. In their attacks against the recent decision, which cites Buckley v. Valeo as precedent, liberals are now insisting that ones free speech rights should decrease as ones net worth increases. Too much free speech, if it is made possible by money, is, for them, a bad thing.

Justice Breyers dissent from the recent decision, about which he felt so passionately that he read it from the bench, makes that clear. He says that corruption by which he means campaign donations derails the essential speech-to-government -action tie. Where enough money calls the tune, the general public will not be heard.

He is saying that the voice of the general public is being drowned out by the voices of people who believe the First Amendment gives them the right to say whatever they think, in spite of the fact that they can afford to do it. His quarrel is really not with his current colleagues but with William Brennan, a liberal of the old school who ruled that more, rather than less, political speech is a good thing.

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