Massenbach-Letter: NEWS 13/12/13

Massenbach-Letter

Udo von Massenbach

Guten Morgen.

Deutsch-Türkisches Journal: „Liberale Maskerade. Eine inhaltliche Standortbestimmung steht aus.“

Massenbach* Israel orders two German destroyers to defend gas fields

DEBKAfile December 7, 2013, 4:11 PM (GMT+02:00)

A deal was signed the sale of two German guided missile destroyers to the Israel Navy at a cost of 2 bn euros, Der Spiegel reports. National Security Adviser Yosef Cohen signed for Israel. The vessels will be part of the air-naval force guarding Israel’s Mediterranean offshore gas fields.

DEBKAfile: This is will be its first purchase abroad missile destroyers. Until now the Israeli Navy consisted of a fleet of missile boats of home manufacture.

http://www.debka.com/newsupdate/6582/

How Syria’s movement was hijacked
By Nicola Nasser

Holding the Syrian government responsible for the humanitarian crisis in Syria as a casus belli for foreign military intervention under the UN 2005 so-called "responsibility to protect" initiative was the goal of the US-led "Friends of Syria" (*)coalition from the very start of the conflict.

Foreign military intervention is now ruled out, but what the Inquirer columnist Trudy Rubin described on November 29 as "the biggest humanitarian crisis in a decade" was created, and this crisis "is worsening and no end is in sight", as the International Federation of Red Cross and Red Crescent said on November 11.

Objective and non-objective as well as official and non-official reports about the responsibility of the Syrian government are abundant, but the true nature of the insurgents has been for too long covered up and only of late come under the scrutiny of human-rights organizations and media.

The early militarization of civilian protests in Syria aborted all prospects for a long overdue peaceful change, creating the largest humanitarian crisis in the world today.

Militarization opened the Syrian doors wide for foreign military, intelligence and political intervention, turning a national conflict between the haves and have-nots into a regional and international one.

More importantly, grudgingly but knowingly the so-called "Friends of Syria" also opened the Syrian doors to al-Qaeda linked offshoots, as an additional weight to enforce a "regime change". In no time they hijacked the armed leadership of the marginal local armed insurgency and became the dominant military power, way out of the control of the intervening regional and international powers who financed, armed and logistically facilitated their infiltration into Syria.

The responsibility of the "Friends of Syria", both Arab and non-Arab, for the militarization and the ensuing humanitarian crisis, was highlighted by the US former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton’s call on Syrian rebels last July for them not to disarm. It is also seen in the Turkish, Saudi and Qatari opposition to a political solution through the upcoming Geneva-2 conference on January 22.

When the United States last December added al-Nusra Front to its list of terrorist organizations, topped by al-Qaeda, supposedly to tip the balance in favor of what is called in US terminology, the "moderates" against the terrorists in the Syrian insurgency, it was a measure taken too late.

The US measure was only a green light for the beginning of another war inside the Syrian war, this time launched by The Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (Da’ash) against all others in the insurgency, including al-Nusra Front.

The end result was further exacerbation of the Syrian humanitarian crisis, for which the United States and partner "friends" could not be absolved of responsibility.

The militarization of legitimate peaceful protests has created the largest humanitarian crisis in the world and it is worsened by the military tactics the insurgents use.

These tactics include mortar shelling of densely populated areas under government control, targeting public services infrastructure, dismantling and stealing public and private factories, and interrupting or cutting transportation and traffic- as well as extrajudicial killings and public beheadings.

There has also been suicide bombings in city centers, the targeting and besieging of minorities, destruction and desecration of religious and historic relics and flooding Syria with tens of thousands of foreign mercenary fighters obsessed by bizarre interpretations of Islam.

Exploiting the fact that the regular army was deployed along some 70 miles (112 kilometers) of the ceasefire line for a confrontation with the Israeli Occupation Forces (IOF) on the Syrian Golan Heights and trained for a regular warfare, their strategic military tactic was from the start to entrench themselves among the civilian population, using them as human shields, in countryside towns and villages where the army has no presence and where even the police and security agencies maintain minimal presence or none at all.

The early successes of the insurgents were military exploits against peaceful civilians; they were not achieved in military versus military battles. It was enough for a few rebels to hold any such peaceful town or village hostage, but it needs an army operation to kick them out.

Except for the northern city of ar-Raqqah, which Da’ash turned into what the Lebanese daily Al-Akhbar in November defined as "Syria’s answer to (Afghanistan’s) Kandahar – the birthplace of the Taliban" since the rebels stormed the city early last March, the Syrian state maintains control and presence in all the major cities.

But the official Arab Syrian Army had been on the defensive for some two years since the eruption of the insurgency in 2011. It needed this time to adapt, train and allocate counter insurgency units to fight in irregular city wars.

Since its strategic victory in al-Qaseer early last June it has gone on the offensive and is rapidly gaining more ground and achieving successive successes ever since.

However, the insurgency bears the main responsibility, mainly during the "defensive" interval, for the civilian plight; waves of refugees and displaced people came out from the areas under their control to find refuge either in government held cities or across the nearest borders with neighboring states. The latest largest wave of refugees of the Syrian Kurds into northern Iraq had nothing to do with government and was caused by infighting among insurgents.

The fact that the Syrian state and government were reacting rather than acting against the insurgency is now coming to light. This fact is explained better by the UK-based opposition Syrian Observatory for Human Rights, which reported on this December 3 that it had documented the death of (50,927) government soldiers versus (36,228) insurgents including (6,261) non-Syrian fighters.

Rebel infiltration into countryside towns and villages was the main reason for more than two million internally displaced civilians who left their homes as soon as they could out of fear either of the rebels themselves and their practices or the inevitable government retaliation. They were taken care of by the government in government shelters.

In addition to Christians and other minorities targeted by the rebels who posture as the defenders of Sunni Islam, most of the refugees and those displaced are Sunni Muslim Syrians and more than one million of them are hosted by their compatriot Alawites in the west of the country, a fact that refutes the narrative of the US government and media about a "civil" and "sectarian" war in the country.

Speaking Freely is an Asia Times Online feature that allows guest writers to have their say. Please click here if you are interested in contributing. Articles submitted for this section allow our readers to express their opinions and do not necessarily meet the same editorial standards of Asia Times Online’s regular contributors.

Nicola Nasser is a veteran Arab journalist based in Birzeit, West Bank of the Israeli-occupied Palestinian territories. nassernicola@ymail.com

http://www.atimes.com/atimes/Middle_East/MID-02-091213.html

(* supported by German Foreign Minister Guido Westerwelle)

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Al Qaeda in Syria has sarin: Russia ready to deal with Syrian Al Qaeda plot against Sochi Olympics

DEBKAfile Exclusive Report December 8, 2013, 10:20 PM (IDT)

It was commonly assumed that Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu and President Vladimir Putin discussed the forthcoming Geneva nuclear accord with Iran when they met in Moscow on Nov. 20. But according to debkafile’s intelligence and counter-terror sources, they focused on two quite different topics.

One was possible Russian-Israeli military and intelligence cooperation against al Qaeda elements in Syria in which both are keenly interested. Israel is shoring up its defenses against potential cross-border terrorist attacks mounted from al Qaeda bases in Syria, while Putin has gone to great lengths to secure the high-prestige Winter Olympics taking place at the Russian Black Sea resort of Sochi Feb. 7-23.

The other topic of conversation was Moscow’s interest in a stake for Russian oil and gas companies in laying the pipelines for the export of Israeli offshore Mediterranean gas to European markets.

By mutual consent, the Iranian issue on which they are deeply divided was scarcely touched on.

Two weeks after their conversation, the ruler of Chechnya, Ramzan Kadyrov, announced Monday, Dec. 4, the formation of a special unit to deal with “Syrian radicals”- both within the North Caucasus republic and abroad.
He added: “Members of the special unit will be ready to interfere in the Syrian conflict if such operation is authorized by the Russian president.”

debkafile’s counter-terrorism sources explain that President Putin is loath to drop a Russian intervention force into Syria and risk upsetting his sensitive understandings with the Obama administration on Syria. He is therefore planning to send out a Chechen force to deal with the Chechens and other North Caucasian jihadists who are fighting under the al Qaeda flag in Syria and now gearing up, according to Russian and Syrian intelligence, for a spectacular attack on the Sochi Olympic Games.

According to some reports, Al Qaeda in Syria has got hold of sarin nerve gas and is ready to use it.

This was confirmed by the investigative journalist Seymor Hersh in an article he published in London on Dec. 8.

He quoted “a large number of American intelligence officials” who said that “the chemical attack on the eastern Damascus suburb of Ghouta on Aug. 21, in which more than 150 people died, may not have been carried out by Bashar Assad’s army but by Jabhat al Nusra [Al Qaeda’s Syrian branch].”

A senior intelligence consultant told the reporter: “Already by late May… the CIA had briefed the Obama administration on al-Nusra and its work with sarin, and had sent alarming reports that another Sunni fundamentalist group active in Syria, al-Qaida in Iraq (AQI), also understood the science of producing sarin. At the time, al-Nusra was operating in areas close to Damascus, including Eastern Ghouta.”

debkafile reports that both these organizations have enlisted many Chechen and North Caucasian members to fight in Syria.

The sources quoted by Hersh charged President Barack Obama and Secretary of State John Kerry with “deliberate manipulation of intelligence.” One high-level intelligence officer called the administration’s assurances of Assad’s responsibility a ruse. “When the attack occurred, al-Nusra should have been a suspect, but the administration cherry-picked intelligence to justify a strike against Assad,” according to Seymor Hersh.

http://www.debka.com/article/23510/

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Syria sarin report blows holes in US claims

By Victor Kotsev

The United States nearly went to war over the use of chemical weapons in Syria a few months ago – and then backed off, ostensibly swayed by Russia’s initiative to have the Syrian government’s chemical stockpile shipped out and destroyed – but those who had been saying all along that the White House version of the story was highly problematic just received a major boost from Pulitzer-prize winning investigative journalist Seymour Hersh.

On Sunday, Hersh, who previously exposed the American atrocities at My Lai during the Vietnam War and in the Abu Ghraib prison in Iraq, published a lengthy report in the London Review of Books [1] charging that US President Barack Obama and his top officials had mislead the world with their statements, most notably in two respects: when they claimed that they had strong evidence implicating the regime of Syrian President Bashar al-Assad in an August 21 chemical weapons attack near the capital Damascus that killed hundreds of civilians, and when they claimed they had no evidence that any of the rebel groups in the country had any chemical weapons or expertise.

Hersh sourced some of his information to "recent interviews with intelligence and military officers and consultants past and present" and described how, in the wake of the August attack, the Obama administration "cherry-picked intelligence to justify a strike against Assad". The White House fed a carefully manipulated story to the public and the media, Hersh asserted, comparing this process to how both the Vietnam War and the Iraq War started.

He reported that despite what was implied by American officials on several occasions, the US had no advance warning of the attack. Several important intelligence sources that had previously provided sensitive information about the Syrian chemical weapons sites, including a sophisticated sensor network operated jointly with Israel, were either countered by the Syrians or simply did not detect any activity. Instead, the American intelligence community started frantically sifting through immense volumes of stored communication intercepts after the attack took place, looking above all for ways to implicate the Assad regime.

"This does not lead to a high confidence assessment, unless you start with high confidence that Bashar Assad ordered it, and began looking for anything that supports that belief," Hersh quoted a former high-ranking intelligence official as saying – an assessment that is hard to disagree with.

Bits and pieces of this information have appeared elsewhere – for example, in a recent Wall Street Journal report, which claimed that the intelligence had not been translated into English until after the attack and suggested that Assad may not have known about it while his commanders in the field "may have simply gotten sloppy". Similarly to other mainstream media, however, the Wall Street Journal presented the intelligence linking the regime to the attack as more or less flawless. [2]

Hersh, on the other hand, challenged this link, pointing out, among other things, that the United Nations report about the attack had stated clearly that the evidence its team examined could have been "manipulated" by the rebels and asserting that the Obama administration had made up its information that the Assad regime had distributed gas masks to its troops prior to the attack.

But by far his most damning allegation Hersh made was that American officials had withheld evidence from the public that the al-Qaeda jihadists in Syria had both access to chemical weapons materials and the know-how to mix and use them in battle.

Shortly before the attack, a top intelligence consultant reportedly told Hersh, an Iraqi chemical weapons expert affiliated with al-Qaeda had moved precisely to the area where it took place. "An intelligence document issued in mid-summer dealt extensively with Ziyaad Tariq Ahmed, a chemical weapons expert formerly of the Iraqi military, who was said to have moved into Syria and to be operating in Eastern Ghouta," Hersh wrote.

But though top American officials on several occasions ruled out the possibility that rebels had carried out the attack, Hersh reported that they had plenty of intelligence reports available to them saying that the jihadists were capable of it.

"In the months before the attack," he wrote, "the American intelligence agencies produced a series of highly classified reports, culminating in a formal Operations Order – a planning document that precedes a ground invasion – citing evidence that the al-Nusra Front, a jihadi group affiliated with al-Qaeda, had mastered the mechanics of creating [the poisonous gas] sarin and was capable of manufacturing it in quantity."

To be fair, neither is the information about rebel possession of chemical weapons completely new, though it largely has not made it into the major Western media. A group of Nusra militants (one of the main al-Qaeda affiliates in Syria) was caught in Turkey in May with sarin and sarin precursors. Somewhat comically, they all reportedly claimed they had no idea that the chemicals they had been mixing would produce a deadly chemical weapon. [3]

Even the famous UN investigator Carla del Ponte admitted in May, three months prior to the August attack, that there were strong indication rebels had used sarin in the field. [4]

But though it doesn’t directly exonerate Assad’s forces from responsibility for the attack, Hersh’s report blows major holes into the narrative circulated by the White House and retold by most of the major international news outlets. It strongly suggests that more important revelations are waiting to be made, both about the circumstances of the August 21 incident and about the intense diplomacy that followed it.

Notes:
1. Whose sarin?, London Review of Books, December 8, 2013.
2. As Syrian Chemical Attack Loomed, Missteps Doomed Civilians, Wall Street Journal, November 22, 2013.
3. Detained al-Nusra members say chemicals not for making sarin gas, Zaman, September 13, 2013.
4. UN’s Del Ponte says evidence Syria rebels ‚used sarin‘, BBC, May 6, 2013.

Victor Kotsev is a journalist and political analyst.

http://www.atimes.com/atimes/Middle_East/MID-01-101213.html

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Policy= res publica

Freudenberg-Pilster* *World’s leading authors: state surveillance of personal data is theft *

• 500 signatories include five Nobel prize winners • Writers demand ‚digital bill of rights‘ to curb abuses

More than 500 of the world’s leading authors, including five Nobel prize winners, have condemned the scale of state surveillance revealed by the whistleblower Edward Snowden and warned that spy agencies are undermining democracy and must be curbed by a new international charter.

The signatories, who come from 81 different countries and include Margaret Atwood, Don DeLillo, Orhan Pamuk, Günter Grass and Arundhati Roy, say the capacity of intelligence agencies to spy on millions of people’s digital communications is turning everyone into potential suspects, with worrying implications for the way societies work.

They have urged the United Nations to create an international bill of digital rights that would enshrine the protection of civil rights in the internet age.

Their call comes a day after the heads of the world’s leading technology companies demanded sweeping changes to surveillance laws to help preserve the public’s trust in the internet – reflecting the growing global momentum for a proper review of mass snooping capabilities in countries such as the US and UK, which have been the pioneers in the field.

The open letter to the US president, Barack Obama, from firms including Apple, Google, Microsoft and Facebook, will be followed by the petition, which has drawn together a remarkable list of the world’s most respected and widely-read authors, who have accused states of systematically abusing their powers by conducting intrusive mass surveillance.

Julian Barnes, Martin Amis, Ian McEwan, Irvine Welsh, Hari Kunzru, Jeanette Winterson and Kazuo Ishiguro are among the British authors on the list.

It also includes JM Coetzee, Yann Martel, Ariel Dorfman, Amit Chaudhuri, Roddy Doyle, Amos Oz, David Grossman, and the Russian Mikhail Shishkin.

Henning Mankell, Lionel Shriver, Hanif Kureishi and the antipodean writers CK Stead, Thomas Keneally and Anna Funder are other globally renowned signatories.

The Guardian has published a series of stories about the mass surveillance techniques of GCHQ and its US counterpart, the NSA, over the past six months; two of the most significant programmes uncovered in the Snowden files were Prism, run by the NSA, and Tempora, which was set up by GCHQ. Between them, they allow the agencies to harvest, store and analyse data about millions of phone calls, emails and search-engine queries.

Though Tuesday’s statement does not mention these programmes by name, it says the extent of surveillance revealed by Snowden has challenged and undermined the right of all humans to "remain unobserved and unmolested" in their thoughts, personal environments and communications. "This fundamental human right has been rendered null and void through abuse of technological developments by states and corporations for mass surveillance purposes," the statement adds.

"A person under surveillance is no longer free; a society under surveillance is no longer a democracy. To maintain any validity, our democratic rights must apply in virtual as in real space."

Demanding the right "for all people to determine to what extent their personal data may be legally collected, stored and processed", the writers call for a digital rights convention that states will sign up to and adhere to. "Surveillance is theft. This data is not public property, it belongs to us. When it is used to predict our behaviour, we are robbed of something else – the principle of free will crucial to democratic liberty."

McEwan told the Guardian: "Where Leviathan can, it will. The state, by its nature, always prefers security to liberty. Lately, technology has offered it means it can’t resist, means of mass surveillance that Orwell would have been amazed by. The process is inexorable – unless it’s resisted. Obviously, we need protection from terrorism, but not at any cost."

The intervention comes after the Guardian and some of the world’s other major media organisations, including the New York Times, the Washington Post and Der Spiegel, began disclosing details of the extent and reach of secret surveillance programmes run by Britain’s eavesdropping centre, GCHQ, and the National Security Agency.

The revelations have sparked a huge debate on the legal framework and oversight governing western spy agencies. Obama has launched a review of US intelligence operations, and earlier this month the UN’s senior counter-terrorism official, Ben Emmerson, announced an investigation into the techniques used by both US and British intelligence agencies.

Civil liberties groups have criticised the UK government for putting intense political pressure on the Guardian and other media groups covering the leaks rather than addressing the implications of the mass surveillance programmes that have been uncovered. But campaigners hope Tuesday’s statement will increase the pressure on governments to address the implications of the Snowden revelations.

"International moral pressure is what’s needed to ensure politicians address the mass invasion of our privacy by the intelligence services in the UK and US," said Jo Glanville, from English Pen, which along with its sister organisations around the world has supported the Writers Against Mass Surveillance campaign. "The signatories to the appeal are a measure of the level of outrage and concern."

Tuesday’s statement is being launched simultaneously in 27 countries, and organisers hope members of the public will now sign up through the change.org website.

Eva Menasse, one of the group of German writers who initiated the project, said it began with an open letter from a group of authors to the German chancellor, Angela Merkel, when the first Snowden revelations came to light. "When we started, we did not know how far we would get. But more and more colleagues joined us and within the last weeks we were sitting at our computers day and night, using our networks as more people came forward. This started as an entirely private initiative, but now has worldwide support."

Another author who helped set up the campaign, Juli Zeh, said writers around the world had felt compelled to act: "We all have to stand up now, and we as writers do what we can do best: use the written word to intervene publicly."

Winterson told the Guardian she regarded Snowden as a "brave and selfless human being"."We should be supporting him in trying to determine the extent of the state in our lives. We have had no debate, no vote, no say, hardly any information about how our data is used and for what purpose. Our mobile phones have become tracking devices. Social networking is data profiling. We can’t shop, spend, browse, email, without being monitored. We might as well be tagged prisoners. Privacy is an illusion. Do you mind about that? I do."

http://www.theguardian.com/world/2013/dec/10/surveillance-theft-worlds-leading-authors?CMP=EMCNEWEML6619I2

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Politics: From Vision to Action

Barandat* *FDP-Parteitag Feige Führung*

Philipp Rösler und Rainer Brüderle: Das Wort "Entschuldigung" fiel nicht einmal. (Foto: Getty Images)

Die FDP hat eine neue Führung. Aber die alte hätte vorher noch eine wichtige Aufgabe gehabt: die verheerende Wahlniederlage aufarbeiten. Stattdessen verweigert sie sich dem letzten Dienst, duckt sie sich weg. Und überlässt der Basis auszusprechen, was ausgesprochen werden muss. Ein Kommentar von Thorsten Denkler, Berlin

Die Wahl haben in der FDP viele vergeigt: die Vorstände, die Vizes, die verschiedenen Parteivorsitzenden und natürlich auch der Spitzendkandidat. Erstaunlich, wie wenige von denen sich an diesem ersten Tag der Aufarbeitung auf dem FDP-Sonderparteitag zu Wort melden. Es sind genau zwei: Jetzt Ex-Parteichef Philipp Rösler und der Spitzenkandidat und Chef der vorerst letzten Bundestagsfraktion, Rainer Brüderle.

Und selbst die zeigen nur auf andere: Auf die Medien, die CDU, auf Angela Merkel, auf die Durchstecher in den eigenen Reihen. Wie kläglich, dass Rösler lieber darüber lamentiert, wie schlecht er von den Medien behandelt worden sei, als darüber, welche kommunikativen und strategischen Fehler er selbst gemacht hat. Erinnert sei nur an seinen Coup, Joachim Gauck gegen Merkel als Bundespräsident durchgeboxt zu haben. Um sich dann über den Klee selbst dafür zu loben.

Brüderle benennt zwar Fehler. Aber den einzigen, zu dem er sich selbst bekennt – die Zweitstimmenkampagne kurz vor der Wahl – hat er gar nicht allein auf den Weg gebracht. Und für falsch hält er sie im Grunde auch nicht. Show bis zum bitteren Ende. Sein unnötiger Machtkampf gegen Rösler, seine mangelnde Sensibilität im Umgang mit Frauenthemen, sein zuweilen peinliches Schweigen zu den Sexismus-Beschreibungen einer Stern-Journalistin. Er hätte wie Rösler genug Grund gehabt, sich ehrlich zu machen.

Warum muss es der neue Chef der Jungen Liberalen sein, der der alten Führung diesen Spiegel vorhält? Punkt für Punkt benennt Alexander Hahn was schief gegangen ist: Das Entwicklungshilfeministerium abschaffen wollen und dann selbst den Minister stellen. Eine Debatte über Westerwelles "spätrömische Dekadenz", dass "es einem die Tränen in die Augen schießen lässt". Die Hotelsteuer als das "erst große liberale Signal". Steuersenkungen die "in vier Jahren Regierungszeit unentschuldigt bis zuletzt nie Realität wurde.

Und dann kommt noch "unser Spitzenkandidat Rainer Brüderle und sagt: ‚Wer Merkel will kann auch FDP wählen’". Hahn spricht aus, was gesagt werden muss. "Wer FDP wählt, der wählt die FDP! Und nicht den nächsten CDU-Bundeskanzler."

Viele andere in der langen Aufarbeitungsdebatte kommen zu ähnlichen Schlüssen.

Nur die, die die vielen Fehler gemacht haben, schweigen. Oder zeigen mit dem Finger auf andere. Ein Armutszeugnis. Wer Ehre für sich beansprucht, der sollte auch in der Lage sein, zu seinen eigenen Fehlern zu stehen, sie zu benennen. Das Wort "Entschuldigung" fiel nicht einmal. Das wäre ein Zeichen von Größe gewesen. Und neben dem eigenen Rückzug aus der aktiven Politik der letzte gute Dienst an ihrer Partei gewesen.

http://www.sueddeutsche.de/politik/fdp-parteitag-feige-fuehrung-1.1838239

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Suter*

Broadband internet makes low-skilled workers more dispensable

by IZA Press

broadband internetDoes adoption of broadband internet in firms enhance labor productivity and increase wages? And is this technological change more beneficial for high-skilled workers? A new IZA discussion paper by Anders Akerman, Ingvil Gaarder and Magne Mogstad answers these questions using rich Norwegian data with firm-level information on value added, factor inputs and broadband adoption. The authors exploit a public program that rolled out broadband access points to examine how it shifts the production technology and changes the productivity and labor outcomes of different types of workers. They find that broadband adoption favors skilled labor by increasing its relative productivity. The increase in productivity of skilled labor is especially large for college graduates in fields such as science, technology, engineering and business. By comparison, broadband internet is a substitute for workers without high school diploma, lowering their marginal productivity.

Consistent with the estimated changes in labor productivity, wage regressions show the expansion of broadband internet improves the labor market outcomes of skilled workers and worsens the prospects of the unskilled. The authors explore several possible explanations for the skill bias of broadband internet. They find suggestive evidence that broadband internet complements skilled workers in executing non-routine abstract tasks, and substitutes for unskilled workers in performing routine tasks. Taken together, the findings have important implications for the ongoing policy debate over government investment in broadband infrastructure: On the one hand, broadband internet can enhance firm productivity. On the other hand, it seems to have strong distributional implications favoring skilled workers, which could be a barrier to government investment in broadband infrastructure.

Read abstract or download discussion paper.

IZA Press | December 9, 2013 at 10:02 am | URL: http://wp.me/p3cqoR-tJ

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Middle East

Kerry brings plan integrating West Bank security

in planned US-led anti-Al Qaeda regional force

DEBKAfile Exclusive Report December 6, 2013, 11:31 AM (IDT)

The security plan, which US Secretary of State John Kerry brought with him Thursday, Dec. 5, on his eighth trip for reviving Israeli-Palestinian peace talks, entails deploying a regional international force including US troops along the Jordan Rift Valley and West Bank in a future Palestinian state. This is reported by debkafile’s military and counterterrorism sources.
The plan, drawn up by Gen. John Allen, was presented by Kerry for the first time to Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu in Jerusalem and Mahmoud Abbas in Ramallah.

The security provisions Washington promised Israel under a final settlement of its dispute with the Palestinians are assuming a broader, regional form as a US blueprint, on which the Obama administration is still working, for a Middle East regional force to combat Al Qaeda.
This force would secure parts of Syria, as well as Jordan, Saudi Arabia, the future Palestinian state and Israel against Al Qaeda attack from positions in Syria, Iraq and Sinai.

The secretary of state proposed integrating Israeli and Palestinian special forces units in the planned regional counter-terror force, alongside the American, British, French, Saudi, Jordanian, Egyptian and Qatari units enlisted to the new framework
Since its area of operation would be extensive, ranging from southern Syria to Sinai, including Israel and the potential Palestinian state, the IDF would be able to continue performing its security functions in Judea, Samaria and the Jordan Valley, as part of the new force. But by the same rule, Palestinian forces would be allowed by mutual consent to serve in parts of Israel in the same multinational framework.

The public groundwork for this plan is already being laid by means of extensive reporting in Western media which magnify the ever-present menace Al Qaeda poses to the United States and West Europe from its concentrations in Syria and Iraq.

The US and British media have been fed materials depicting thousands of young American, European, Saudi and Jordanian Islamists flocking to Syria to fight with Al Qaeda-affiliated rebel militias against Bashar Assad and their potential as ticking terror bombs on their return home.

British intelligence, not normally forthcoming on terrorist threats, provided detailed information Friday, Dec. 5, about sophisticated, hard-to-detect bombs, newly developed by the Yemen-based Al Qaeda in Arabia (AQAP), and made of non-metallic and low-vapor explosives disguised as harmless objects like shoes, clothing or soft drink bottles to fool international airport and border post scanners.

All these reports lay stress on the operational links between AQAP and Al Qaeda branches in Syria and Egyptian Sinai.

Thursday, the day Kerry arrived in Israel, Al Qaeda staged one of its biggest operations in recent times against the Yemeni Defense Ministry in Sanaa. It claimed at least 52 lives and injured up to 200 people. Suicide bombers rammed the ministry compound’s gates setting off explosives in cars and bomb belts, while gunmen stormed the defense ministry building and hospital annex, gunning down any personnel they met, including foreign staff. Among the dead were six doctors.

US forces across the region, including Jordan, the Arabian Peninsula and the Horn of Africa, were immediately placed on high terror alert. Friday, as the Secretary of state met the Israeli prime minister for the third time and headed off to the Palmachim Air Force base to inspect the Arrow missile interceptor, US forces in Israel, the embassy in Tel Aviv and General Consulate in Jerusalem were also placed on heightened alert against a major terrorist strike.
The Yemeni attack was viewed by experts as an Al Qaeda demonstration of defiance, to show the visiting American official that Washington’s evolving security strategy was no match for its own ability to launch surprise attacks anywhere in the region on the most heavily guarded facilities.

Prime Minister Netanyahu is reported by debkafile’s Jerusalem sources as open to the new security proposal put before him by the secretary of state, although he was familiar with some of its elements from earlier discussions between US and IDF officers on the situation in southern Syria and Jordan and how to deal with it.
The Palestinian leader, however, was much more reserved. At first he turned the plan down, but then agreed to look into it in consultation with the Saudis and Jordanians.

http://www.debka.com/article/23506/

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*Massenbach’s

Recommendation*

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see our letter on:

Wir wünschen Ihnen ein angenehmes Wochenende. Ihr Team.

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Udo von Massenbach – Bärbel Freudenberg-Pilster – Jörg Barandat – Edith Suter

UdovonMassenbachMail

Edith.SuterJoergBarandat

FDP-Lindner-Lichtjahre entfernt _ DTJ ONLINE.pdf

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