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23 Dec

News and Analyses, A Foreign Perspective

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Israeli intelligence agents: ‘we routinely targeted innocent Palestinians’ – video

Three veterans from one of Israel’s most secretive intelligence units speak out about questionable surveillance tactics used against Palestinians. The men, along with 40 other reservists, past and present, have signed a public letter refusing to serve in operations involving the occupied Palestinian territories. They allege the widespread use of monitoring and oppressive tactics against innocent Palestinians

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Sony faces a doubly whammy of losses from The Interview and the cost of dealing with the hacking it apparently provoked.

The comedy, starring Seth Rogen and James Franco, depicts the assassination of North Korea’s leader Kim Jong-Un. Photograph: Christopher Polk/Getty

Sony approves limited US release of The Interview on Christmas Day

Move comes after Obama said Sony had ‘made a mistake’ pulling the movie following a campaign to kill film the White House believes was organised by North Korea

Controversial comedy The Interview will be released on Christmas Day, reversing an earlier move by Sony to pull the film following a massive hack of the studio.

Sony held a conference call with theatre owners on Tuesday and gave them the go ahead to release the movie in a limited number of independent cinemas. The decision came after President Barack Obama said Sony had “made a mistake” pulling the movie following a campaign to kill the movie that the US government believes was organised by North Korea.

“We have never given up on releasing The Interview and we are excited our movie will be in a number of theatres on Christmas day,” said Michael Lynton, chairman & CEO of Sony Pictures Entertainment in a statement Tuesday. He said the company was exploring other ways to distribute the movie to the “largest possible audience.”

Sony has been subject to a lengthy and embarrassing hack coordinated by a group calling itself Guardians of Peace (GOP). The hackers have released a slew of personal emails from Sony’s top executives as well as compromising the personal details of 47,000 employees past and present…………………………

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Participants hold German national flags

Participants hold German national flags during a demonstration organised by anti-immigration group Pegida. Photograph: Hannibal Hanschke/Reuters

Germany’s ‘pinstripe Nazis’ plan more anti-Islam marches in new year

Authorities promise to keep close eye on demos that have attracted increasing numbers of people since October

Record 17,000 join ‘pinstripe Nazi’ march in Germany

Demonstrations against Islam that have attracted thousands to the streets of Dresden in east Germany are set to continue in the New Year, with organisers announcing plans for a protest on 5 January.

Although authorities have said there is nothing they can do to prevent further protests, a spokesman for Germany’s interior ministry said it would be keeping a close eye on the demonstrations, which have attracted increasing numbers of people since they began in October.

More than 17,500 people took part in the demonstration organised by the Patriotic Europeans Against Islamisation of the West, or Pegida, in Dresden on Monday – a rise on the 15,000 who were involved in a protest a week before. Much smaller groups have also rallied in Bonn, Kassel and Würzburg. The protesters have been dubbed the “pinstripe Nazis”……………….

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Palestinians dressed as Santa Claus protest in Bethlehem – video

A small group of Palestinian protesters in Santa Claus outfits clash with Israeli security forces a day before the start of Christmas celebrations in the West Bank. The demonstrators gathered at Bethlehem checkpoint to protest against ‘Israeli occupation’. The Israeli army, who claim the protesters also threw rocks, use teargas to disperse the crowd

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David Koch

Students at the University of Kansas are exploring potential conflicts of interest involving the Koch brothers, Charles and David, center. Photograph: Chip Somodevilla/Getty Images

The McGlynn:  Rock Chalk, Jay Hawk, KUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUU!

Kansas academic petitions judge to keep Koch brothers correspondence sealed

University of Kansas students say benefactors for founder and director of the Center for Applied Economics are violating academic principles

An academic at the University of Kansas has petitioned a judge to prevent his correspondence with his benefactors, foundations set up by the billionaire Koch brothers, from being made public under freedom of information laws.

Dr Arthur Hall, founder and director of the Center for Applied Economics at the university’s business school in Lawrence, Kansas, is locked in a bitter fight with students who want to extract the documents as part of their exploration of potential conflicts of interest involving the Kochs. In a lawsuit lodged with the district court of Douglas County, Hall argues that disclosure of the emails and letters would cause him “immediate and irreparable harm” and violate the principles of academic freedom.

For their part, the students say it is Charles and David Koch who are violating academic principles by using their vast wealth – the brothers own the second-largest private company in the US and are estimated to be worth more than $70bn – to inject their distinctive brand of conservatism into an independent seat of learning. Hall once worked as chief economist for Koch Industries’ lobbying arm, the Public Sector Group.

According to the KU group that is leading the freedom of information request, Students for a Sustainable Future, Hall’s center has received $1.4m in financial support from Koch foundations since it was set up in 2004………………..

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ben carson

Ben Carson visits Yad Vashem Holocaust memorial in Jerusalem. Carson, 63, has said that he is ‘strongly considering’ a Republican presidential bid. Photograph: Dan Balilty/AP

Republican presidential hopeful Ben Carson seeks to buff image in Israel

  • Retired neurosurgeon criticises Obama over Israel policy

  • Carson, 63, has little foreign affairs experience

In his first visit to Israel, the prospective Republican presidential candidate Ben Carson said he was in awe of the Jewish state, inspired by its ancient holy sites, impressed by the resilience of people living in a perpetual conflict zone – and deeply disappointed in President Barack Obama.

“I do not believe that Obama has been one to cultivate the relationship,” said Carson, a retired neurosurgeon who has emerged as a favourite of some conservatives in the early field of possible GOP candidates.

“I would make it very clear that Israel and the United States have a long, cordial relationship, and I don’t think we should ever leave the Israelis in a position of wondering whether we support them,” Carson said in an hour-long interview in Jerusalem. “And that certainly is a question now.”

……………….Carson expressed views that are common among Israel’s nationalist right wing. He showed sympathy for Israel’s much-maligned settlement movement and questioned the desire among Palestinians for peace. He even suggested that instead of Israel relinquishing captured land to make way for a Palestinian state, neighbouring countries such as Egypt should provide the space for a future Palestine………………….

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