Archive for July 18th, 2012

18/07/2012

Shamir, ‘The Most Successful Terrorist Of The 20th Century’

Human Wrongs Watch

By Uri Avnery*, TRANSCEND Two former Prime Ministers of Israel are in the news these days. They represent two of the many faces of Israel. They also raise a universal question: which is preferable – an honest fanatic or a corrupt pragmatist?

**Yitzhak Shamir’s coffin lying in state in the Knesset, July 2, 2012. Photo: יעקב | Wikimedia Commons

Yitzhak Shamir died two weeks ago and was buried in the cemetery of the “Great of the Nation” in Jerusalem. He was 97 years old and had been vegetating for years in a state of dementia. Most Israelis did not know that he was still alive.

When I described him on TV as “the most successful terrorist of the 20th century”, the interviewer raised his eyebrows. But it was an accurate description.

Shamir was not a great thinker. In his teens he joined the right-wing Zionist youth organization of Vladimir Jabotinsky in Poland, and since then he did not change his world-view one iota. In this respect he was absolutely immovable. He wanted a Jewish state in all of the historical country. Period. No nonsense about Arabs and such.

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18/07/2012

The Sun Saves Germany from Post-nuclear Blackouts

By EurActiv* – Germany’s lights were kept on by solar power last winter, after Berlin’s rapid phase out of nuclear power brought the country to within a whisker of complete breakdown, senior energy industry sources say.

**Photo credit: Saperaud

Following the Fukushima nuclear disaster in March 2011, Germany moved to close all 22 of its nuclear reactors. But problems in readjusting electricity supplies led spare capacity – the potential amount of excess production – between France and Germany to fall to just 2 gigawatts (GW) in February.

“It’s almost nothing,” a well-placed official told a briefing organised by the Institut français des relations internationales (IFRI), “less than one percent.”

“Technicians on both sides [of the border] were aware that we were as close as we had ever been to a breakdown of the power system,” he said. “We were saved by the sun.”

By a stroke of fortune, Germany – which last year accounted for half of the world’s installed solar photovoltaic (PV) capacity – enjoyed an extraordinarily sunny February.

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18/07/2012

Number of Syrian Refugees Triples in Three Months

Human Wrongs Watch

Geneva –  The number of Syrian refugees that it has registered or assisted in Iraq, Jordan, Lebanon and Turkey has almost tripled since April to 112,000, mostly women and children, the UN refugee agency UNHCRreports.

*Members of a Syrian family register as refugees in northern Lebanon. Photo: UNHCR/F.Juez

The actual number of Syrian refugees is thought to be significantly higher, as many people seek to be registered only when they run out of resource, it says.

“In all four countries, many newly arriving Syrian refugees are dependent on humanitarian aid, with some coming with only the clothes on their backs and following many months of unemployment,” UNHCR spokesman Adrian Edwards told journalists in Geneva on 17 July.

“The needs of those who arrived earlier in the year are also increasing as their savings have become depleted,” he noted.

At the same time, the communities supporting the refugees are increasingly feeling the strain, with the local infrastructure and resources under severe pressure, in particular water, housing, schools and health facilities.

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