Archive for May, 2014

SÄPO KOMMER TILL FÖRFATTAREN BERTIL HÄGGMANS ARBETSPLATS FÖR FÖRHÖR

May 31, 2014

År 1965 flyttade författaren Bertil Häggman efter avlagd jur kand-examen till Stockholm. Den 18 september 1966 kom två poliser från Säpo (utan förvarning) till min arbetsplats. Man hävdade att jag var misstänkt för olovlig underrättelseverksamhet men jag gavs inte tillfälle att ha juridiskt ombud närvarande. Säpomännen uppgav att de gripit en norsk medborgare. Egendomligt nog hade han samma namn som den person som rapporterade till Säpo från den antikommunistiska konferensen i Lund om kommunism. Hur som helst var han Stasiagent, hävdades det, och hade uppgifter om min adress och telefonnummer i sin anteckningsbok.

Det har varit omöjligt att få del av förhörsprotokollet. Det kan ha gallrats ur arkivet. År 2007 skrev Häggmantill Stasiarkivet i Berlin och förhörde mig om det hade funnits någon Stasiagent med det namn som Säpo uppgav för mig 1966. Svaret var att någon med det namnet hade inte funnits som agent. Resultatet av förhöret i Stockholm blev att någon förundersökning inte inleddes och det blev då givetvis inte något åtal.

Förhöret i Stockholm har behandlats i artikeln ”Svensk statstjänsteman kräver insyn hos Stasi”, Statstjänstemannen 8-9/1991, av Christoph Andersson. Han påpekar där:

”Ett klassiskt Stasitrick var just att misstänkliggöra sina motståndare. Särskilt populärt var det att framställa dem som – Stasiagenter. Ju mer offret förnekade uppgifterna, desto trovärdigare skulle han framstå som iskall agent. Bertil Häggman är övertygad om att han finns omnämnd i Stasis jättelika register.”

Men jag finns inte i det registret. Efter ett stort antal försök från 1991 till 2005 att få reda på det kan det konstateras. Alla registerakter är dock inte genomgångna. De som är sönderrivna håller på att repareras. Det troliga är att min akt har förstörts av Stasi eller numera finns i Moskva.

FÖR FRIHET OCH DEMOKRATI I ASIEN 1965 – 1975

May 30, 2014

Under perioden 1965 till 1969 var författaren Bertil Häggman i Stockholm bland annat verksam med information om Vietnamkriget i som ordförande i Kommittén för ett fritt Asien (KFA). Verksamheten övervakades av Säpo och det finns ett omfattande arkivmaterial. Det består dock till huvuddelen av tidningsurklipp. Pressuppmärksamheten var omfattande. Senare, under 1970-talet, förekom samarbete med den informationsbyrå, som Sydvietnam (Republiken Vietnam) öppnat i den svenska huvudstaden.

I spetsen för en skandinavisk delegation besökte Häggman Vietnam år 1967, och delegationen togs emot av republikens statschef, generallöjtnanten Nguyen Van Thieu. Ytterligare besök ägde rum åren 1969 och 1971.

Från 1973 började det bli allt svårare att arbeta med upplysningsarbete till stöd för demokratierna i Asien. Möten och debatter stördes av den yttersta vänstern och Häggman utsattes för telefonhot.

Under besöken i Sydöstasien hade Häggman samlat material till en bok om politisk och psykologisk krigföring under Vietnamkriget. Det började som en promemoria och utvecklades till bokmanuset ”Victory in the Mind – Psychological Warfare and Propaganda During the Second Indo-China War”. Det är fortfarande opublicerat men delar av det har offentliggjorts i tyska och franska tidskrifter.

I manuset läggs bland annat vikt vid extremvänsterns opinionsbidrag över hela världen för åstadkomma ett amerikanskt tillbakadragande från Vietnam. Sydvietnam var på väg att bli en demokrati men pressad av hemmaopinion och världsopinion kom den amerikanska kongressen, sedan de amerikanska trupperna dragits tillbaka, att vägra fortsatt bistånd till Sydvietnam. Detta ledde till en snabb kollaps för Sydvietnams militära styrkor och en seger för diktaturen i Nordvietnam.

Häggmans erfarenheter från Sverige 1965 – 1975 var naturligtvis viktiga för denna analys. Under senare tid har forskare i USA åberopat min promemoria och pekat på bristerna i det demokratiska partiets politik under Vietnamåren på informationsområdet (i amerikansk public policy). Erfarenheterna från Vietnamkriget har i dag säkert en inverkan på politiken under Irakkriget och givetvis det nu pågående Afghanistankriget.

I mitt arkiv finns ett förslag, som lades fram av en PR-byrå i Stockholm för att förbättra informationsverksamhet om Vietnamkriget i Sverige. Så vitt jag vet kom detta förslag aldrig till användning.

OIL RIG MOVE SIGNALS CHINA’S ‘CREEPING ASSERTIVNESS’

May 20, 2014

Radio Free Asia on May 8, 2014, in an interview with Vietnam expert Carl Thayer, a professor at the University of New South Wales, reported on China’s recent aggressive moves in the South China Sea. Excerpts below:
.
Q: China has brought an oil rig into waters in Vietnam’s exclusive economic zone. The Vietnamese foreign minister called Beijing to try to settle the issue down. But China’s Global Times said China should teach Vietnam “a lesson.” What do you think?

A: For China to put an oil rig in Vietnam’s exclusive economic zone is a new development, it’s a provocation, and it violated Vietnam’s exclusive economic zone. But the reports that I’m receiving are that up to 70 Chinese vessels of all types have surrounded that rig and there has been at least one incident where a Chinese vessel collided with a Vietnamese coast guard vessel and caused injuries. Among the 70 ships, American sources are telling me, there are Chinese PLA navy warships, and that is a major escalation by involving military ships rather than coast guard.

Q: In Washington, the U.S. State Dept spokeswoman called China’s actions “provocative and unhelpful to the maintenance of peace and stability in the region.” What are your thoughts?

A: It’s definitely provocative, first because relations between Vietnam and China after [Chinese Prime Minister] Li Keqiang’s visit last year were on an upward spiral—they were talking of joint development and all kinds of wonderful prospects—and that would seem to be set back now.

But what China has done is provocative because it threatens every other country in the region. Malaysia and Indonesia were already reacting to Chinese pressures against the Philippines by privately taking defensive maneuvers in their own areas to protect their maritime jurisdiction claims. This is on the eve of an ASEAN meeting in Myanmar, so the South China Sea will come on the issue.

Q: What will happen in the region if China goes on to activate the oil rig?

A: [That] China actually begins drilling … is unlikely, because what I’m hearing here in Hanoi is that when typhoon season begins to approach, China will probably withdraw the rig around August. So there’s plenty of room between now and August for China just to [cite] technical reasons and move the rig out.

This time China has put a huge rig, so it’s invested a lot of Chinese prestige in this area and the rig will have to be protected [if it stays]. What does that mean? A prolonged Chinese presence and another example of its creeping assertiveness. … It tells countries in the region that over the long term, unless the U.S. protects them and comes in in a stronger way, China will bit by bit end up asserting its sovereignty. And they have no response because no one’s paramilitary forces are equivalent to China’s coast guard.

Q: What will be the role of ASEAN if the situation gets more serious?

A: Core members of ASEAN have formed more or less a consensus after the debacle in Cambodia, but ASEAN as a whole will be disappointing. They will condemn but not mention China by name, in my opinion. They will uphold international law, the U.N. Convention on the Law of the Sea, they will oppose the use of force or threat of force or coercion, and they will call for a speedy conclusion of a binding code of conduct. In other words, it’s a record that’s been put back on the machine that will play again and again because ASEAN itself can do nothing.

But separately, individual countries—as we’ve seen with the enhanced cooperation between the Philippines and the U.S., and with Indonesia and Malaysia, where … they’ve taken steps to create naval bases and move new military forces into areas adjacent to the South China Sea—will take steps to prevent what’s happened to Vietnam, [to prevent them from] waking up in the morning and finding that China has put a rig in their exclusive economic zone.

It’s unclear how much advance knowledge Vietnam had. If it did [have knowledge of China’s plans for the rig], that explains why the coast guard vessels were there. But then China arrived with overwhelming force, and I think that’s the lesson for Indonesia and Malaysia.

The core region, not ASEAN as a whole but core members, will be more unified and worried about what China will do next.

US SENATORS PUSH TO CUT OFF PENTAGON CONTRACTS WITH RUSSIA AMID UKRAINE CRISIS

May 19, 2014

FoxNews on May 17, 2014 reported that a bipartisan group of US lawmakers has introduced legislation banning Pentagon contracts with Russian arms dealer Rosoboronexport amid the crisis in Ukraine.

The proposal by Sens. Dan Coats, R-Ind.; John Cornyn, R-Texas; and Richard Blumenthal, D-Conn., would forbid the direct or indirect use of U.S. tax dollars to enter contracts or agreements with the company and end all existing contracts.

The Russian Weapons Embargo Act of 2014, introduced, would also prohibit Defense Department contracts with any domestic or foreign company that cooperates with Rosoboronextort to design, manufacture or sell military equipment, according to a news release.

“Given Russia’s hostile actions in Ukraine, business as usual is unacceptable,” Coats said in a statement. “With American credibility and the future of the international order on the line, our actions should reflect that. This specific economic sanction will harm Russian interests in a serious way without damaging America’s economy.”

The Pentagon has a $553.8 million contract with Rosoboronexport to purchase 30 Mi-17 transport helicopters for Afghanistan’s air force, according to The Hill. The DoD has already spent $546.4 million on 33 helicopters.

Blumenthal said recent events in Ukraine underscore why the U.S. should stop doing business with Russia and its state-owned arms dealer.

Meanwhile, in Ukraine, local patrols by steelworkers have forced the pro-Russian insurgents to abandon the government buildings they had seized in Mariupol.

The move is a setback to forces that have established footholds in eastern Ukraine as they demonstrated opposition to the interim Ukrainian government in Kiev.

The U.S. and its allies are working to help ensure that the elections go forward problem-free, and have warned Russia against trying to influence the outcome.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.

SVENSKA UNGDOMAR OCH ÄVEN ÄLDRE VET INGET OM KOMMUNISMEN

May 18, 2014

Lena Breitner skrev den 13 maj 2014 om att UOK, Föreningen för upplysning om kommunismen i en debattartikel i Dagens Nyheter om ungdomars kunskaper om kommunismen fann det skrämmande hur hög okunskapen var. Utdrag nedan:

95 procent känner till Auschwitz – men 90 procent känner inte till Gulag.
90 procent vet inte vilken utländsk huvudstad som ligger närmast Stockholm.
50 procent vet inte att Berlin är huvudstad i ett land vid Östersjön.
82 procent tror inte att Vitryssland är en diktatur.
56 procent av grundskoleeleverna svarar ”Vet ej” på frågan om de anser att samhällen baserade på västerländsk marknadsekonomi är demokratiska.
43 procent tror, att det totala antalet offer för kommunismen under nittonhundratalet är en miljon eller färre. En femtedel tror, att det är inga alls eller färre än tio tusen.
40 procent anser att kommunismen bidragit till ökat välstånd i världen.
22 procent anser att kommunismen är ett demokratiskt samhällskick.

Undersökningen visar också en skrämmande okunskap om vad begreppet ”kollektivisering” egentligen innebär. Många tror det är något positivt och de associerar det till typ ”kollektivtrafik”, ”att göra saker tillsammans”, ”alla får det lika bra”.

Rapportförfattarna menar att resultatet visar att den svenska skolan inte följer den aktuella läroplanen för grundskola och gymnasium, som anger att skolan har en viktig uppgift ”att förmedla och hos eleverna förankra de grundläggande värden som vårt samhällsliv vilar på.”

Angående geografi hävdade journalisten Kjell Albin Abrahamson för ett antal år sedan att det enda svenskarna visste om Baltikum under kalla kriget var att det var där lågtrycken kom ifrån. Fortfarande än i dag möter jag vuxna människor som inte kan placera länderna i ordning från norr till söder, som inte vet vad huvudstäderna heter, tror att Riga ligger i Estland etc.

Naturligtvis finns det undantag i vårt land. Vi har många med släkt i grannländerna, många som arbetat i länderna eller har besökt länderna som turister. Men i grund och botten är svensken generellt sett ganska ointresserad av sitt så kallade nära utland. Istället har vi engagerat oss väldigt mycket någonstans långt-bort-istan. Typ på andra sidan jordklotet. Vi visste till exempel väldigt mycket om Sydafrika under kalla kriget, men hade grunda kunskaper om våra egna grannländer. Hur kunde det komma sig?

Har ni tänkt på hur vi svenskar uppträdde under en stor del av kalla kriget? Det var många som åkte till ett antal av våra grannländer och söp skallen i bitar. I Köpenhamn ska det ha funnits ett talesätt av typen ”Gör en miljöinsats – följ en full svensk till flygbåtarna”.

Vad är det som har gjort att vi varit så ointresserade av våra nära grannländer? Vad är det som har gjort att vi inte vågade säga att människorna bakom järnridån levde i kommunistiska diktaturer? Jag skulle säga: utrikespolitiken och kalla kriget.

I den tidigare kontraspionagechefen Olof Frånstedts memoarer, del I, går han igenom dokument från personer inom den socialdemokratiska ledningens möten med sovjetiska företrädare. Vad tar svenskarna upp för ämnen?

Vietnamkriget
 Västtyskland
 Finland
 Kina

Inte ett ord om om våra baltiska grannländer, som var ockuperade.

”Varför denna vita fläck bland samtalsämnena?” undrar Frånstedt (s 212)

Själv minns jag vilket engagemang som uppbådades kring Mellanöstern och inte minst Sydafrika, för att inte tala om Kuba. Men varför detta ointresse kring våra nära länder bakom järnridån?

Visste ni förresten att Svenska kyrkans företrädare smugglade baltiska flyktingar vid krigsslutet och arbetade mot baltutlämningen och för att flyktingarna skulle bli kvar i Sverige? När Tage Erlander fick kännedom om smugglingen av flyktingar blir han rosenrasande då detta trotsade den svenska neutralitetspolitiken.

”Bakom regeringens rygg hade alltså dessa snygga gossar drivit en politik i stäv med regeringens ofta proklamerade åsikter. Det hela är för djäkligt”, skriver Tage Erlander i sin dagbok.

Om ni undrar varför Sverige blev ett land där man talade tyst om vissa saker, varför man undvek vissa ämnen, varför en del började arbeta i det fördolda (som t ex vissa präster) så har ni svaret där.

Kommentar: Sverige var det tysta landet när det gällde ockupation och förtryck i de av Sovjetunionen förslavade länderna. Normal används tystnadspolitik mest i tyrannier. Sverige är ett exempel på hur denna tystnadspolitik fungerar i ett demokratiskt land. Det är förvånansvärt att någon akademiker inte studerat detta fenomen.

CONGRESS PARTY CRUSHED IN INDIA ELECTION – BJP TAKES OVER

May 17, 2014

Washington Times on May 16, 2014, published an AP report that opposition leader Narendra Modi will be India’s next prime minister, winning the most decisive election victory the country has seen in more than a quarter century and sweeping the long-dominant Congress party from power…Excerpts below:

Modi’s Hindu nationalist Bharatiya Janata Party was winning in enough seats in the lower house of Parliament to exceed the 272-seat majority needed to create a government without forming a coalition with smaller parties, the Election Commission said.

As his victory became clear, Modi appeared before a crowd of cheering supporters and noted that he is the first Indian prime minister born after independence from Britain in 1947.

“I would like to reassure the nation that while we did not get to fight and die for independence … we have the honor of living for this nation,” he said.

The outcome was a crushing defeat for the Congress party, which is deeply entwined with the Nehru-Gandhi political dynasty that has been at the center of Indian politics for most of the country’s post-independence history.

Modi’s slick and well-financed campaign promised a revival of economic growth and took advantage of widespread dissatisfaction with the scandal-plagued Congress party. Although he has focused strongly on the economy, Modi has given some hints of his foreign policy leanings, saying the BJP wants to strengthen India’s strategic partnership with the U.S. and build on the foundations laid by the last BJP prime minister, Atal Bihari Vajpayee.

The overwhelming victory gives Modi, a 63-year-old career politician, a strong mandate to govern India at a time of deep social and economic change. India is in the throes of rapid urbanization and globalization just as the youth population skyrockets…

For the young Indian voters, the priorities are jobs and development, which Modi put at the forefront of his campaign.

Congress, which has been in power for all but 10 years of the country’s history since independence, has been plagued by repeated corruption scandals. Friday’s results showed Congress leading in only 42 seats, its worst showing ever.

There was a record turnout in the election, with 66.38 percent of India’s 814 million eligible voters casting ballots during the six-week contest, which began April 7 and was held in stages across the country. Turnout in the 2009 general election was 58.13 percent.

“In the history of independent India, no political party has defeated the Congress party with such a wide margin,” BJP President Rajnath Singh told a news conference that opened with the blowing of a conch shell, a traditional start to most Hindu rituals.

The Obama administration started mending fences in February 2014, when, for the first time in Modi’s decade-long tenure as the top official in Gujarat state, the U.S. ambassador met with him.

…Modi focused on promises of a revival in economic growth, taking advantage of widespread dissatisfaction with the Congress party.

Modi managed to hammer away at Gandhi — specifically the perception that he is nothing more than a feudal prince from a family that views ruling the country as its birthright.

In sharp contrast to the street parties outside the BJP office, a sober scene played out in front of Congress headquarters, where few showed up despite barricades erected to protect supporters from passing road traffic.

Associated Press writers Ashok Sharma and Katy Daigle contributed to this report.

AMERICA COULD HOLD ANSWER TO PUTIN’S GAS WAR ON UKRAINE

May 16, 2014

FoxNews on May 15, 2014, reported that America’s booming natural gas production could help Ukraine keep the heat and lights on amid Russia’s latest threat to cut off supplies, if the U.S. cuts through troublesome red tape, lawmakers said. Excerpts below:

Russian President Vladimir Putin said state-run Gazprom will only deliver gas to cash-strapped Ukraine if it is paid in advance. U.S. lawmakers blasted the threat from Putin, who is backing an uprising by ethnic Russians in Ukraine, and said the U.S. must act quickly to keep Ukraine supplied.

Shipping to any country not bound by a free trade agreement with the U.S., however, requires a federal permit.

“Threatening to turn off the spigot of natural gas to Ukraine is nothing but extortion playing out on the global stage,” said Rep Fred Upton, R-Mich., who chairs the House Energy and Commerce Committee. “This shameful act of defiance by Putin underscores the growing need for Congress to act on LNG exports.”

Upton urged passage of the so-called “Domestic Freedom and Global Prosperity Act,” which would grant immediate approval of the 24 pending applications currently filed with the Department of Energy

“This would send the clear signal that we are serious about enlarging the scope of natural gas exports, and immediately undercut Russia’s dominance,” Upton said. “Russia has chosen to wield its energy resources as a geopolitical weapon to inflict harm on others. As the world’s emerging energy superpower, America has a newfound responsibility to help our allies.”

Bill sponsor Cory Gardner, R-Colo., said fast-tracking permits to ship LNG to nations like Ukraine creates jobs in America while also serving out foreign policy interests.

“It also serves our national security interests as an aggressive Russian regime looks to expand power in former Soviet Union countries,” Gardner said. “This legislation helps our allies in the region and across the globe while creating jobs and economic opportunity here in Colorado.”

Gazprom controls nearly 20 percent of the world’s natural gas reserves, and supplies more than half of Ukraine’s energy needs. Ukraine recently signed a $10 billion deal with Chevron to drill for shale gas in western Ukraine… Right now it is heavily dependent in the near term on Russia.

Ukraine does not have the infrastructure to receive direct overseas shipments of liquid natural gas, but it does have pipelines coming in from European countries.

Putin first hinted at pinching the pipeline in an April letter to European leaders whose nations are customers of Russia’s state-controlled Gazprom. But in the second letter released by the Kremlin on May 15, Putin said that a meeting involving Russian, Ukrainian and the European Union officials has failed to settle the issue. Putin said that Ukraine’s gas debt to Russia has risen to $3.5 billion.
“Given the circumstances, the Russian company has issued an advance invoice for gas deliveries to Ukraine, which is completely in accordance with the contract, and after June 1 gas deliveries will be limited to the amount prepaid by the Ukrainian company,” Putin said in the letter.

The move is part of Russia’s efforts to retain control over its struggling neighbor.

Putin sought to cast the move as a purely economic decision, saying that Russia is “still open to continue consultations and work together with European countries in order to normalize the situation.”

“We also hope that the European Commission will more actively engage in the dialogue in order to work out specific and fair solutions that will help stabilize the Ukrainian economy,” he added.

Ukraine has said it could start paying off the debt if Moscow restores the gas discounts canceled following the ouster of the pro-Russian president in February 2014 after months of protests.

RUSSIA PLANS TO CONQUER AND COLONIZE SPACE

May 15, 2014

Mail On Line on May 15, 2014, reported that it seems the Kremlin has the Moon in its sights. Excerpts below:

Moscow has set out plans to conquer and colonise space, including a permanent manned moon base.

Deputy premier Dmitry Rogozin said: ‘We are coming to the moon forever.’

His comments came as President Vladimir Putin toured the Cosmonautics Memorial Museum in Moscow. On May 17, 2014, Russia celebrates Cosmonaut Day marking Yuri Gagarin’s pioneering flight into space on April 12, 1961.

In an article in the government’s own newspaper headlined ‘Russian Space’, he spoke of targeting Mars and other ‘space objects’ as future priorities.

‘Flights to Mars and asteroids in our view do not contradict exploration of the moon, but in many senses imply this process.’

He wrote of ‘colonisation of the moon and near-moon space’.

In the next 50 years, manned flights are unlikely beyond ‘the space between Venus and Mars’.

But ‘it is quite possible to speak about exploration of Mars, flights to asteroids and flights to Mars’.

The essential first step as a base for research and experiments was the moon, said Rogozin, who is in overall charge of Russia’s space and defence industries, and was recently targeted for EU and US sanctions over the Ukrainian crisis.

‘The moon is not an intermediate point in the race,’ he wrote in official daily Rossiiskaya Gazeta, conjuring an impression of a new space race with America.

‘It is a separate, even a self-contained goal.

‘It would hardly be rational to make some ten or 20 flights to the moon, and then wind it all up and fly to the Mars or some asteroids.

‘This process has the beginning, but has no end. We are coming to the moon forever.’

Currently, Russia has plans to launch three lunar spacecraft – two to the surface and one to orbit – by the end of the decade.

The first mission, the long-delayed Luna-25, is slated for launch in 2016, to research the moon’s south pole.

The next two missions will include an orbiter to monitor the moon in 2018, and a year later a polar lander with a drill will search for water ice.

The Kremlin’s space-age boasts come less than three years after the U.S. was forced to start hitching flights on Russian rockets.

Nasa ended its space shuttle programme in 2011 and has faced years of funding cuts.

But there could be hope of a new space race – as Nasa announced this week it hopes to land humans on Mars within 20 years.

By 2040, Russia plans to create a lunar base for long-term missions to the Earth’s natural satellite.

Rogozin said that the moon is the only realistic source to obtain water, minerals and other resources for future space missions.

He promised the development of ‘a super-heavy rocket for lunar missions and to the Mars in the future’.

Rogozin claimed sanctions including the termination of space cooperation announced by the US ‘can contribute’ to a stronger Russian space industry.

It will force Russia ‘to create a strategy of development of Russian manned space flights, independent from unreliable international partners’.

He stressed: ‘We should not be afraid to dream, to raise the bar as high as possible for our future development.

‘Russia has everything needed for a new breakthrough in space research.

‘All we need is to learn how to combine idealism and pragmatism and how to properly organise our business.’

US FEDERAL COURT DISMISSES FRIVOLOUS LAWFARE SUIT TARGETING US CHARITIES AIDING WEST BANK JEWS

May 14, 2014

The Lawfare Project has recently reported that U.S. District Judge Jesse Furman dismissed a lawsuit, Ahmad v. Christian Friends of Israeli Communities, brought by thirteen Palestinian residents of the West Bank (“Plaintiffs”) against five U.S.-based charitable organizations (“Defendants”).  The suit alleged that Defendants funded attacks against Palestinians, committed by Israeli citizens living in the West Bank, and sought money damages from the charities. Excerpts below:

 Ahmad is a prime example of lawfare litigation, an inherently illegitimate suit that fails as a matter of law due to Plaintiffs’ inability to meet the required elements of the claims asserted, as detailed below. Lawfare proponents have routinely filed such actions for purposes of intimidation and to advance political ideologies.

 —

More than 500,000 Israeli citizens reside in the portion of the West Bank that Plaintiffs argue is “within the internationally recognized borders of the future Palestinian state.” Rather than filing suit against (or even identifying) any individuals who purportedly carried out violent acts, the Plaintiffs claimed that the five defendant charities — Christian Friends of Israeli Communities, the Hebron Fund, Inc., the Central Fund of Israel, the One Israel Fund, and American Friends of Ateret Cohanim — were liable for providing financial support to West Bank communities to “build and maintain the illegal settlements, illegally take land in Occupied Palestine, to support the attacks by the settlers on Palestinians living in Occupied Palestine, and to support the terrorist acts of the settlers against Palestinians and other persons in Occupied Palestine.” This provision of financial support, according to Plaintiffs, was intended to enable and assist acts of terrorism in violation of the Anti-Terrorism Act (“ATA”),and the Alien Tort Statute (“ATS”).

The claims brought under the ATA required a showing that Defendants intended or knew that the funds provided would be used to support terrorism. The ATS claims required that Defendants possessed “purpose rather than knowledge alone” that their funds would be used in this manner.

 Judge Furman found that Plaintiffs’ allegations were “entirely conclusory” and failed to suggest that Defendants “were aware — or even deliberately indifferent to the possibility — that the financial support they provided…would be used to support any violent activity.” Plaintiffs “do not (and cannot) allege that the [Israeli] settlers are a designated terrorist organization,” Judge Furman wrote, “Nor do they allege that the settlers have publicly stated terrorist goals or are associates of established terrorist organizations.”

 Further, Plaintiffs failed to show a proximate causal relationship between the provision of financial support and any alleged attacks, a requisite element of all ATA claims. As the holding notes, “Essentially, the Amended Complaint alleges that Defendants transferred funds to an unorganized group of approximately five hundred thousand people, and that some people in that group committed attacks against the American Plaintiffs.”

 The court denied Plaintiffs’ ATS claims based on similar reasoning: having found their allegations insufficient to establish that Defendants even knew the funds provided would be used to aid terrorist activity, “it follows a fortiori that the allegations are insufficient to establish that Defendants intended for their funds to be used in such a manner.” Moreover, the court cited established and binding precedent that claims against corporations fall beyond the ATS’s jurisdiction. Because all Defendants were “corporations or corporate-type entities,” the ATS claims were necessarily dismissed.

 

UKRAINE’S LEADER GAINS STATURE WITH HONEST IMAGE

May 12, 2014

Washington Times on May 10, 2014 published am AP report on when new Prime Minister Arseniy Yatsenyuk invited anti-corruption activists to his apartment in Kiev last month, the first thing he showed off was his toilet. “See for yourself,” Yatsenyuk joked. “It’s not gold.” Excerpts below:

It was a jab at ousted president Viktor Yanukovych, who along with his government cronies had a notorious penchant for gaudy luxury.

Yatsenyuk’s interim government is seeking to carry out sweeping reforms to break from a culture of self-interest, cynicism and corruption that left the country on the verge of bankruptcy.

By contrast, Yatsenyuk flies economy, lets whistleblowers into his home and readily admits to mistakes. Those qualities have helped him grow in stature and win support for his administration — even as Ukraine struggles to avoid a possible breakup.

Yatsenyuk leads a motley team of young pro-Western professionals, idealists, nationalists and heroes of the Maidan protests — named after the square that was the magnet of dissent — as well as veterans of rough-and-tumble Ukrainian politics. As the eclectic group assumed power in February, it knew it faced a daunting challenge: State coffers were empty, the country was deeply polarized and the protest movement was not willing to give the new government any easy breaks.

Then things got dramatically worse: Ukraine lost Crimea to Russia and the government found itself battling pro-Kremlin insurgents, while trying to avoid war with its giant neighbor to the east.

The road has been paved with successes and setbacks. But during the rocky journey, Yatsenyuk, who exudes the air of a somewhat nerdy intellectual, has gained respect by proving to be steadfast in the face of quixotic tasks, ready to sacrifice personal interests for the country’s good. Yatsenyuk often refers to his new job as a suicide mission — and, when congratulated recently on his post, he quipped that condolences were more in order.

[the majority] of Ukraine appears to trust its new leaders: A nationwide April poll conducted by the International Republican Institute shows full or partial support for the Yatsenyuk government at 52 percent, up from 46 in March. The poll had 1,200 respondents and a margin of error of 2.8 percentage points.

As the country prepares for May 25 presidential elections to choose a new leader, all eyes are on the interim government and its ability to ensure a successful vote, even as eastern and southern regions are riven by unrest.

One undeniable success of Yatsenyuk’s Cabinet was getting a $17 billion loan commitment from the International Monetary Fund to avoid a meltdown of the debt-ridden economy. Getting the loan required implementing highly unpopular reforms such as allowing devaluation of the Ukrainian currency, the hryvna, and hiking household utility bills.

Anticipating widespread discontent, Yanukovych’s administration had resisted such reforms for years and failed to secure the aid.

Despite being a wealthy man, Yatsenyuk, flies coach when on trips to Western capitals — a sharp contrast to his predecessors who preferred government jets or first-class luxury. Yatsenyuk also announced austerity measures for state employees, putting government cars, country resorts and other property up for sale.

“We are introducing the toughest system of control and reduction of budget expenditures in the financial history of Ukraine,” Yatsenyuk told lawmakers.

A lawyer by training, Yatsenyuk, 39, made his fortune in banking before moving into government and serving as the country’s economy minister, foreign minister and parliament speaker. He has two daughters with his wife, Tereza, 43, who is involved in public activism and charity work. Tall, skinny and bespectacled, Yatsenyuk was a prominent figure in the Maidan protests movement that ousted Yanukovych, but lacked the charisma to become the ultimate leader of the protests. He was at one point ridiculed for vowing to take a “bullet in the forehead” from police forces — then shying away from any confrontations.

But as prime minister, candid talk and a willingness to make tough decisions have boosted Yatsenyuk’s support.

“Overall, I think Yatsenyuk has come out as a pragmatic, sensible and principled leader, who is trying as far as possible to uphold peace, integrity and the basic principles of Maidan,” said Tim Ash, an emerging markets analyst with Standard Bank in London, citing “respect for basic human rights, the rule of law, a market economy and democracy.”

But in his push to secure a Western future for Ukraine, Yatsenyuk hasn’t been immune to mistakes, observers say.