Israeli demolition orders


Some 13,000 Palestinian structures in the occupied West Bank are currently under Israeli demolition orders, leaving residents and homes “in a state of chronic uncertainty and threat”, the UN said Monday.

A report from the UN Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA) also highlighted the difficulty Palestinians face in obtaining building permits needed to prevent such demolition orders.

More than 11,000 Israeli demolition orders relating to an estimated 13,000 Palestinian structures are currently awaiting implementation in a huge swathe of the occupied West Bank, said the report entitled “Under Threat”.

“While only a minority of the orders issued are executed, these orders do not expire and leave affected households in a state of chronic uncertainty and threat,” it said.

“Where the orders are implemented, they have resulted in displacement and disruption of livelihoods, the entrenchment of poverty and increased aid dependency.”

The report cites data from the Israeli authorities relating to the West Bank zone under full Israeli control, known as Area C and covering 60 percent of the territory.

The data was obtained through a freedom of information request.

Area C is an administrative region created under the Oslo accords in 1995. Data cited prior to 1995 in the report refers to locations that would later become part of Area C.

Between 1988 and 2014, Israel issued more than 14,000 demolition orders against Palestinian-owned structures, of which upwards of 11,000 are currently outstanding, it said.

In many cases, the same order targets multiple structures owned by the same household (e.g. their residence, an animal shelter, a storage room and a latrine)


Last month 31 international organisations, including Oxfam and Amnesty International, criticized what they called a “surge” in West Bank demolitions.

They cited UN figures showing Israel‘s destruction of 63 houses and other structures in a single week in August, leaving 132 Palestinians homeless.

Israeli authorities did not respond to requests from AFP for comment on the OCHA report.

They have previously said such demolitions are carried out because the structures were built without the required construction permits.

Palestinians say such authorization is routinely denied, forcing unlicensed building, an argument echoed by the UN report.

“The planning and zoning regime applied by the Israeli authorities, including the ways in which public land is allocated, makes it virtually impossible for Palestinians to obtain building permits in most of Area C,” the report said.

OCHA said there were currently about 300,000 Palestinians living in Area C, and cited Israeli data as saying that about 356,000 Israeli settlers live there also.

Israeli settlements in the West Bank are considered illegal under international law and are a major stumbling block to peace efforts as they are built on land Palestinians consider to be part of a future state.

Al-Aqsa Under Attack By Israeli Forces


Israeli forces encircle the Old Jerusalem on Sunday morning putting barriers at its entrances to storm Al-Aqsa Mosque. forces encircle the Old Jerusalem on Sunday morning putting barriers at its entrances to storm Al-Aqsa Mosque.

“Israeli forces ban all Palestinians less than 50s including guards, students, and Religious Endowments employees  to enter Al-Aqsa. Then about 7 am huge number of Israeli forces storm Al-Aqsa firing tear gas and sound bombs at the worshipers,” the media center for Aqsa and Jerusalem Affairs spokesperson Mahmoud Abu Attah told Donia Al-Watan.


Smoke columns are raised at the scene as a blaze took a place at the southern corner of the compound.

Al-Aqsa Mosque witnesses large scale of clashes between worshipers and Israeli forces who attempt to uproot the Palestinians in Jerusalem.

Israeli Agriculture Minister Uri Arie early this month stormed Al-Aqsa Mosque under tight guarding with almost 40 settlers, a move broke out the Palestinian anger.

39 Palestinian Detained


Israeli police and border forces took into custody, on Thursday night, 39 Palestinian workers near the Israeli resort city of Eilat, according to Israeli media.

that they were all taken to Israeli interrogation centres for questioning.

Palestinians from the occupied West Bank are banned from working in Eilat, though tens of thousands have been given permits to work in other Israeli cities, according to Days of Palestine.

All Palestinian work permits issued by the Israeli occupation include the phrase “allowed to enter Israeli excluding Eilat.”

Palestinians who seek to work in occupied Israeli cities need a special work permit usually granted by the Israeli Civil Administration, in coordination with the Israeli Ministry of Labour.

Al-Aqsa Under Attack

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JERUSALEM: Muslims clashed with Israeli police at Jerusalem’s flashpoint Al-Aqsa mosque compound Sunday hours before the start of the Jewish New Year, the latest violence over access to the site sacred to both faiths.

The clashes came with tensions running high after Israeli Defence Minister Moshe Yaalon last week outlawed two Muslim groups that confront Jewish visitors to the compound.

Palestinian president Mahmud Abbas condemned what he called an Israeli police “attack” at the site, while Israeli Public Security Minister Gilad Erdan said Muslim rioters had turned the complex into a “battlefield.”

Muslim witnesses said police entered the mosque, Islam’s third-holiest site, and caused damage. Police only said they closed the doors to the mosque to lock in rioters throwing stones, fireworks and other objects.

Authorities have used the same tactic in the past in a bid to restore calm and which has seen them briefly enter.

According to police, the rioters had barricaded themselves in the mosque overnight with the aim of disrupting visits by Jews to the site ahead of the start of New Year celebrations on Sunday evening.

Authorities said they decided to raid the compound at around 6:45 am (0345 GMT) to ensure visits to the site could go on as usual. Protesters then retreated inside the mosque and targeted police from there, according to the statement.

“Masked protesters who were inside the mosque threw stones and fireworks at police,” it said. “Suspect pipes that could be filled with homemade explosives were also found at the entry to the mosque.”

Protesters have previously used such pipes to direct the trajectory of fireworks.

A Muslim witness accused police of entering the mosque much further than would have been needed to close the doors and of causing damage, saying prayer mats were partially burned.

Police said calm later returned to the mosque complex, though clashes continued outside in the narrow alleyways of Jerusalem’s Old City, with authorities firing tear gas and stun grenades.

The Palestinian Red Crescent said 20 people required hospital treatment.

“The police went inside and we are prevented from entering,” Khadijeh Khweis, who said she is a member of one of the two Muslim groups banned last week, told AFP amid the protests in the Old City.

“They are chasing us with (stun) grenades and it’s been like that since the morning. We could only pray in front of the doors (leading to the complex).”

An AFP journalist saw a number of people being detained and heavy police deployments in the Old City. Several news photographers, including one from AFP, were kicked and hit by Israeli police seeking to push back crowds.

Abbas said sites such as Al-Aqsa constituted a “red line,” adding that “we will not allow attacks against our holy places.”

“The presidency strongly condemns the attack by the occupier’s military and police against the Al-Aqsa mosque and the aggression against the faithful who were there,” a statement from his office said.

Erdan, the Israeli minister, said “these serious incidents must lead us to reflect on the existing arrangements” at the compound, venerated by Jews as the Temple Mount.

“It is unthinkable that Muslim rioters transform this holy place into a battlefield,” he said. “We will ensure that the status quo is preserved.”

Non-Muslims are allowed to visit the compound, but Jews are forbidden from praying or displaying national symbols for fear of triggering tensions with Muslim worshippers.

Muslims fear Israel will seek to change rules governing the site, with far-right Jewish groups pushing for more access and even efforts by fringe organisations to erect a new temple.

The defence minister’s move last week banned the Murabitat and Murabitun groups, which his office said were “a main factor in creating the tension and violence” at the mosque compound.

Israel seized east Jerusalem, where Al-Aqsa is located, in the Six Day War of 1967 and later annexed it in a move never recognised by the international community.

The mosque compound is the site of frequent clashes.

In late July, Israeli police entered Al-Aqsa as they clashed with Muslims angered by Jews’ access to the compound on an annual day of Jewish mourning.

The July incident marked the first time Israeli security forces had entered the mosque since November, when clashes with worshippers also erupted.

Speech Anxiety


So you have to make a speech? And the thought terrifies you? Well, you’re certainly not alone. Survey after survey has indicated that fear of public speaking is one of the very most common fears. Even many top professional speakers experience some little bit of “stage fright” when they speak. It is normal and natural. The key is to control this nervousness and use it as form of adrenaline instead of anxiety.

Public speaking doesn’t have to be something to be feared, with the right mind set and training you can approach your speech with confidence.

Very few people have genuine biological “communication anxiety” (the fear of communicating). What most people have is “evaluation anxiety” based on the irrational thought that they will be harshly evaluated by their audience. This could not be further from the truth. The truth is the audience wants you to succeed. Recall, for a minute, the worst speaker you’ve ever seen in person. How did seeing that speaker struggle make you feel as audience member? Probably uncomfortable. You probably wished that the speaker would pull themselves together and finish the speech strongly.

As a speaker, you also have something that the audience wants. They are present to hear from you. You will provide them with some entertainment or information that they would otherwise be without. They have an interest in seeing you succeed. And, since they have not chosen to speak themselves, they may very well admire you for your courage.

Your fears may also be compounded by the fact that you believe that the audience will perceive your nervousness, but this is not nearly the problem that you may think. Most physical manifestations of speech anxiety feel significant to the speaker, but are really only very slight and subtle. For example: If your hand is shaking a bit, it feels like big deal to you. However, even audience members in the front row are unlikely to pick up on it.

And finally, remember that you are your own worst critic. Your audience members have lives of their own. Any minor flaws in your speech will likely go unnoticed by members of the audience. Any major flaws will likely soon be forgotten by members of the audience. No one is evaluating you as harshly as you are evaluating yourself.

Having said all that, chances are you are still feeling a normal level of speech anxiety. Some ways that you can lower this to a controllable level include-

  1. Practice, practice, practice – The more prepared you are, the more confident you will feel.
  2. Use visualization- Imagine yourself giving a successful speech. Think about your past speaking successes. Prepare yourself mentally to succeed. Or, imagine how happy you will be when your speech is over. Whatever puts you in a positive frame of mind.
  3. Reframe the speech- Think about the speech as a simple conversation. Think of your audience as friends. You wouldn’t be frightened to converse with your friends. A speech is fundamentally the same thing, except that you may not have yet met your “friends” and they are unlikely to interrupt you.
  4. Exercise- OK, so it may not be practical to sprint from your car to the podium on speech day, but exercising a couple hours before your speech can have a great effect. Exercising releases stress and tension, two feelings synonymous with speech day.
  5. Develop your skills- The more you understand the speech-making process, the better equipped you will be to succeed. Use this site as a starting point, but also consult other public speaking-related books and DVD’s for more insights.
  6. Use a checklist- Don’t let yourself worry about skipping a step or leaving out some important element of your speech. Use a checklist to ensure that you’ve covered all the bases.

That chip on your battery is not for government surveillance


No one is using a little sticker hidden on your battery to spy on you, no matter what Facebook tells you.

It’s easy to get confused by the inside of a smartphone, even if you’re reasonably familiar with a lot of the technology that goes in to these devices. NFC chips are particularly curious, as their size makes it easy to sneak them in just about anywhere, and most folks outside of the tech bubble have no idea what NFC is or why we need the tech on our phones. In fact, all it would take to get someone worried about NFC is a reasonable-ish theory about government surveillance and a narrative that suggests the technology is being hidden from you somehow.

That’s exactly what is happening on Facebook right now, thanks to a video making the rounds detailing a “disturbing discovery” under a Samsung battery.

It’s the sort of thing those of us who know better are likely to laugh off and get back to work, but the current conversation surrounding government surveillance makes it easy for something like this to spread like wildfire. NFC chips are regularly sealed in plastic on the backs of phones or, in Samsung’s case, baked right into the battery so you were more likely to buy a Samsung-made battery when the need arose. Unfortunately, this is one of those things that aren’t widely understood — because why would you — and craziness ensues.

So please, don’t try to pull the sticker off of your Samsung battery. Don’t let anyone you know try it either, the risk for accidentally puncturing your battery is just too high. That chip is not harvesting your data in any way, and can actually be used for some really cool things if you know how. It’d be a lot more fun to give some of those things a try.

Rise in Narcissism, Blame Social Media Or Not?


We are living in an increasingly narcissistic society.

In a world where prime-time television is dominated by a “reality” as false as the Kardashians’ lashes, and people sit across dinner tables checking in on Facebook rather than having face-to-face conversations, this may not come as a surprise.

So who’s to blame for this generational increase in narcissism?

Can we pin the tail on Mark Zuckerberg and the advent of Facebook? Over the last couple years, a plethora of research has been pouring in that makes connections between Facebook and narcissism. Studies are consistently finding that people who score higher on the Narcissistic Personality Inventory questionnaire tend to have more friends on Facebook, tag themselves more often in photos and update their statuses more frequently.

In general, social media websites encourage self-promotion, as users generate all of the content. People often utilize Facebook “to look important, look special and to gain attention and status and self-esteem. The trouble with this aspect of social networking is that nearly everyone presents an unrealistic portrait of themselves. Just as people select the most attractive photos of themselves to use as profile pictures, they tend to populate their newsfeeds with the most attractive bits of news about themselves. Of course, this is not always the case, but the unrealistically sunny picture that so many social networkers paint can have a negative psychological effect on their friends or followers. Real studies have shown that students who were more involved with Facebook were more likely to think other people’s lives were happier and better. These heavy Facebook users were also more likely to negatively compare themselves to others and feel worse about themselves.

While Facebook is certainly a platform for narcissists, it is a mistake to assume that Facebook alone has caused this spike in narcissism. There is a significant amount of psychological research that shows that one’s personality is fairly well-established by age 7,” given that Facebook’s policy doesn’t allow users to register until age 13, the personality traits of typical users are fairly well-ingrained by the time they get on a social network.

The truth is the rise in narcissism among millennials may have less to do with our social networks online and more to do with our social networks at home. Throughout the last few decades, there has been an increase in parental coddling and the so-called “self-esteem” movement. Parents and teachers trying to instill a healthy sense of self-esteem in children by praising them lavishly often do more harm than good. In fact, studies show that children offered compliments for a skill they have not mastered or talents that they do not have are left feeling emptier and more insecure. Only when children are praised for real accomplishments are they able to build actual self-esteem.

It is important to understand that narcissism stems from underlying feelings of inadequacy. Many children of the millennial generation were given form rather than substance, presents instead of presence, which leaves children feeling insecure. Empty praise causes children to feel entitled while lacking the true confidence necessary to feel good about themselves. Our society’s shift towards instant gratification appears to be having a negative effect on our kids.

In order for children to feel secure and confident in themselves, it is essential for parents to distinguish emotional hunger from real love. Real parental love includes warmth, affection and attunement to a child’s needs, as well as offering the child guidance, direction and control when appropriate. This type of love helps children develop real self-esteem rather than narcissistic personality traits.

While it is certain that online forms of communication and social networks do affect individual’s mental health, the solution to fostering a less narcissistic generation is to instill a healthy sense of true esteem offline before anyone is old enough to post their first status update. Only by being less self-obsessed and placing more value on personal relating can we impart these values to the next generation.

War Kills Children

childen_war3Every day as a result of conflict, thousands of civilians are killed or injured. More than half of these victims are children. The days when the captain of a sinking ship ordered women and children first onto lifeboats are just a fading notion. The Second World War was a watershed when civilian victims were as numerous as combatants. Now, in almost all current conflicts, civilians are the majority of casualties, with children suffering disproportionately. million children have been killed by conflict over the last decade; 6 million children have been made homeless; 12 million have been injured or disabled; and there are at least 300,000 child soldiers operating in 30 different conflicts across the globe.

A child is particularly vulnerable to the ravages of war. The physical, sexual and emotional violence to which they [children] are exposed shatters their world. War undermines the very foundations of children’s lives, destroying their homes, splintering their communities and breaking down their trust in adults. We treat bullet and shrapnel wounds, provide prosthesis for mine victims, house the displaced and refugees of ongoing conflicts, but how do we fare in providing those most vulnerable and least able to cope with the nutritional, environmental, emotional and psychological effects of conflict?

Understanding of Bigotry

Bigotry is the expression of hatred or aggression towards those who are different. Examples of bigotry include racismand religious intolerance.

Bigotry is common among atheistselitistsracistsliberals,Muslimshomosexuals, and religious extremists (i.e.Westboro Baptist ChurchKu Klux KlanAl Qaeda, etc.) towards critics of their ideologies. Some liberals deceitfullyclaim to uphold equality of all viewpoints and free speech, but are in fact routinely prejudiced against opposing viewpoints. They are particularly bigoted against Christians (and indeed faith in general) and Family Values. It is typical to see liberals refer to their opponents as “racists“, “fascists“, “Nazis“, “rednecks“, “gun nuts“, “fanatics“, or any number of more profane slurs. Bigotry can also be evidently seen when people refer to others who disagree with them as “bigots” or “intolerant”, and this is a severe form of hypocrisy because it excuses their accountability by blaming someone else.