Author: Friends of The Fifth Column

Palestinians Protest against Israel’s ‘Quiet Mosques’ Bill

Hundreds of Palestinians within Israel and the Gaza Strip demonstrated on Friday against a bill to limit the volume of calls to prayer at mosques.

In the southern city of Rahat, 100 Palestinians held a rally against the bill, while more than 500 people took part in various demonstrations in the north, police said.

In the northern city of Jisr al-Zarqa, lawmaker Ahmed Tibi of the Arab Joint List called the legislation “a provocation and act of coercion in the place of dialogue and tolerance”, a party spokesperson said.

Iraq: Militias Held, Beat Villagers

Recruited Children as Fighters From Camp for Displaced People

Iraqi government-backed Hashad al-Asha’ri militias detained and beat at least 22 men from two villages near Mosul. The militias also recruited at least 10 children in a camp for displaced people as fighters against the Islamic State, also known as ISIS.

“Civilians in ISIS-held territory in and around Mosul are asking themselves what will come next. The answer to that question should be greater respect for human rights,” said Lama Fakih, deputy Middle East director at Human Rights Watch. “For some civilians who have come under the control of Hashad al-Asha’ri militias, however, the change in guard has not meant protection from rights abuses.”

Despite Mass Protests In South Korea, No Moves By Park To Step Down?

South Korea saw hundreds of thousands demonstrating last week, with some counts stating that over one million participated in demonstrations on November 12th. Protests have now entered their fourth week. The ongoing scandal regarding embattled South Korean president Park Geun-hye’s bizarre devotion to her friend and spiritual advisor, Choi Sil-soon, is not going away anytime soon. Demonstrators called on Park to step down, stating Park was no longer suitable to be president of South Korea. Reportedly, Park allowed Choi access to classified information and to embezzle tens of millions of dollars in government funds and to dictate aspects of her life ranging from wardrobe choices to presidential speeches. Park’s approval rating is currently below five percent.

After being questioned by prosecutors, prosecutors concluded that Park colluded with Choi to embezzle money. Because South Korean presidents can only be prosecuted for insurrection or treason, Park may only be prosecuted once out of office. Regardless, Park would be the first South Korean president to be interrogated in an ongoing criminal case. This is despite high-profile cases of political corruption in the past such as Chun Doo-hwan embezzling nearly one billion dollars during South Korea’s authoritarian period in the 1980s, and the arrest of family members of President Lee Myung-bak on charges of corruption during the democratic period. The history of corruption in South Korean politics raises serious questions about the country’s political system.

IRS Missteps with Bitcoin Lead to Witch Hunt of Coinbase Clients

The Internal Revenue Service has dropped the ball on bitcoin and left users with little choice but noncompliance. Agency officials may have been in denial for the past few years, but the weight of criticism from both government and independent watchdogs appears to have jolted them into action.

Their knee-jerk response, however, is thin on introspection and does zero to facilitate legal use of the cryptocurrency. To make up for lost time and cast fear into the hearts of bitcoin users across the country, the IRS is demanding to know the transaction records and identities of every single client from 2013 to 2015 of the largest bitcoin trading platform in the United States.

Ethiopia’s crisis

Things fall apart: will the centre hold?

Almost exactly a year ago, Ethiopia entered its worst crisis since the arrival of the regime in 1991. Last month, a state of emergency was proclaimed. These two events have generated a flood of commentary and analysis. A few key points, sometimes underplayed if not ignored, are worth closer attention.

“Mengist yelem!” – “Authority has disappeared!”

People waited in vain for the government to react other than by brute force alone to the opposition it was facing and the resulting chaos. The unrest in Oromya, Ethiopia’s most populous state with 35% of the country’s total population, began on November 12, 2015; the uprising in part of the Amhara Region, the second largest by population (27%), on July 12, 2016.

Sweden Concerned over Israel’s Settlement Bill

Sweden’s Foreign Ministry said the country is “deeply concerned” about a planned Israeli bill to allow expanded construction in major West Bank settlements.

The ministry said Friday such settlements are contrary to “Israeli and international law,” and “greatly undermine” the possibility of peace.

Israel’s parliament this week gave preliminary approval to a contentious bill that would retroactively legalize hundreds of homes in West Bank settlements that sit on private Palestinian land, according to AP.

Broadband to the Wilderness: SpaceX to Provide Global Gigabit Speed Internet

SpaceX has announced plans to launch over four thousand satellites into low-Earth orbit to provide the world with super-fast internet, according to a recent regulatory filing.

Earlier this week, Elon Musk’s SpaceX company outlined plans to the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) to create global broadband network by launching 4,425 satellites into space. The first deployment will entail 800 satellites, intended only for connectivity in the US. The global remainder will be launched at a later date. Currently, some 1,400 satellites orbit the Earth, in varying stages of usefulness and repair.

Forward the Commons! A unifying political vision for Europe

The idea of the commons offers the possibility to fundamentally change something without a revolution. This is what we will put forward at the European Commons Assembly in Brussels, November 15-17.

From November 15 to 17 the European Commons Assembly will meet in Brussels. It will be the first meeting of a dynamic coalition that has come together over the space of just a few months since its incipient meeting in Paris.

The assembly of ‘commoners’: of citizen initiatives, of activists and social innovators will be hosted in the European Parliament by the multi party Intergroup on Common Goods & Public Services chaired by the Portuguese MEP, Marisa Mattias.

Bahrain: Critic of UK Royals’ Visit Faces Charges

Leading Activist Said Trip Could ‘Whitewash’ Government Abuses

Bahraini authorities have charged a prominent political activist with “inciting hatred of the political system” after he criticized Bahrain’s government and the November 8 to 11, 2016, visit to Bahrain by Britain’s Prince Charles. The charge against Ebrahim Sharif, former leader of the National Democratic Action Society, carries a prison term of up to three years and is a clear violation of his right to free expression.

On November 11, an Associated Press article reported that the Prince of Wales had made a state visit to Bahrain, part of a seven-day tour of the Gulf undertaken at the request of the British government. The article quotes Sharif expressing concerns that the visit could “whitewash” Bahrain’s human rights situation and the government’s “absolute power.” The Bahrain News Agency said in a November 13 statement that Sharif, had “defamed Bahrain’s constitutional system,” even though Bahrain’s 2002 constitution states that “everyone has the right to express his opinion and publish it by word of mouth.”

COP22: why climate justice must also be a struggle for sovereignty

‘What would you die for?’ The question isn’t heard often at the UN Climate Negotiations, but it did break into the halls of power on Thursday 17 November. It was posed by indigenous youth delegate Niria Alicia Garcia Torres.’Tell me, what is it you would die for? And what do you stand for?’

These same questions are guiding the hearts of protestors on the treaty lands of the Standing Rock Sioux in North Dakota, USA. Members of over 200 tribes and thousands of allies have gathered over the past seven months to oppose the Dakota Access pipeline, facing off militarized police, sound cannons, rubber bullets, pepper spray and attack dogs to defend their lives, land and water from a 1,172-mile oil pipeline, which they call the ‘black snake’.

R380,000 grant for community food gardens spent on hotel bills

National Development Agency to file complaint with police against Khayelitsha Development Forum

The National Development Agency (NDA) is to open a case with the police against the Khayelitsha Development Forum (KDF) over the alleged misuse of funds.

The agency will open a case with SAPS after efforts to get cooperation from the KDF failed, NDA Chief Operating Officer Dr Anthony Bouwer told GroundUp this week.

U.K. WOMAN WHO WAS RAPED IN DUBAI CHARGED WITH ‘EXTRAMARITAL SEX’

A British woman reported her alleged gang rape in the United Arab Emirates (UAE) only to end up being charged with ‘extramarital sex’ as her attackers were released on bail.

The victim works as an IT consultant in the united gulf kingdoms, which is primarily populated by people not originally from the Islamic theocracy. Despite the fact that Emirates only make up around 11% of the population, the country is still governed under strict Islamic law similar to that of their neighbor, Saudi Arabia.

The unnamed woman was allegedly raped by two other U.K. expats. She reported the incident to the authorities in Dubai but then was later served with the charge of extramarital sex and has to be bailed out of police custody. Her passport was seized as she tried to board a flight for Australia, so she can’t leave the country while awaiting trial.

CUBA, Sí

It is still naive to think that the relationship between the U.S. and Cuba are now on a nice glideslope with respect to trade and tourism between the two countries. Similar naive assumptions were made regarding Russia, thinking that after the fall of the Soviet Union, Russia would naturally take its place in the community of nations. Things did not really pan out that way.

While Cuba is opening its door to the free world, there is still a long way to go and a lot of work to be done. Cuba refused humanitarian assistance from the Archdiocese of Miami to aid victims of Hurricane Matthew rebuilding in Eastern Cuba, while accepting aid from Japan. Flights to Cuba on American carriers are half full. And American businesses report they are still preparing to do business with Cuba, not actually doing business. Cuba’s economic growth remains slow, with Venezuelan subsidies decreasing and the “peace dividend” from improved relations with the U.S. hasn’t happened yet. The U.S. – Cuba relationship is not a full blown one yet in the economic, diplomatic, or cultural sense, the lifting of the limit on Cuban cigars notwithstanding.

Crimea: freedom of speech turns to freedom of silence

Crimea has had no independent media for two and a half years now — a Crimean journalist speaks about the situation on condition of anonymity.

The author, a Crimean journalist, has requested that we publish this article anonymously.

In March 2014, after the referendum on Crimea’s “unification” with Russia that was not recognised beyond the latter’s borders, Ukrainian legislation was gradually squeezed out by Russian law. The official transition period was supposed to end on 1 January 2015, but there were exceptions in some areas. Free registration for Crimea’s media companies by Russian media watchdog Roskomnadzor was, for example, extended to 1 April of that year. Crimean media could effectively continue to function up until then, but many found their access to government bodies already closed and officials refusing to talk to them.

Kazakhstan Introducing Compulsory Fingerprinting Program

Kazakhstan’s Interior Ministry has said it plans to create a national fingerprint database that would include details on all the country’s citizens by 2021. Deputy Interior Minister Rashid Zhakupov said on November 15 that the initiative will cost 36.8 billion tenge ($107 million).

Submitting fingerprints within the coming four years is to be made compulsory, news website Vlast.kz reported.

“Including fingerprints in identification documents will allow for 100 percent certainty in identification. This will facilitate passage through border controls,” said Serik Sayinov, head of the Interior Ministry’s migration department.