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Obama Says Wage Gaps Remain 50 Years After Equal Pay Law Passed

President Barack Obama marked the 50th anniversary of Equal Pay Act that was supposed to abolish wage disparity based on sex by saying the gains made by women haven’t completely closed the gap on wages.

As more women become the main earner in households, the disparity in wages compared with men is putting more pressure on middle-income families, Obama said at a White House ceremony marking the occasion.

“And as I said in my inaugural address this year, our journey to equality is not complete until our wives, our mothers, our daughters can earn a living equal to their efforts,” he said.

The law signed by President John F. Kennedy was aimed at assuring women of paychecks equal to those of men doing the same work. In 1963, women earned about 59 cents to every man’s dollar for the same job.

Comparing the median weekly full-time earnings in 2012, women earned 80.9 percent of men, according to the Institute for Women’s Policy Research, a Washington-based research group, citing figures from the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics.



U.S. Congress Committee Endorses $488 Million Aid To Israel

The U.S. House of Representatives Armed Services Committee has endorsed a $488 million increase in military aid to Israel, which would pay for Israel's procurement and development of additional rocket and missile interception systems.

The committee last week approved the defense authorization bill proposal submitted by its chairman, California Republican Howard McKeon. According to the wording of the proposal, the U.S. will allocate another $268 million to Israel in 2014 for the development of two interception systems: the Arrow 3, which intercepts long-range missiles, and the Magic Wand, which intercepts medium-range missiles.

This is a larger investment that initially planned. The bill also states that a further $220 million will be allocated in 2014 to finance the purchase of extra batteries for the Iron Dome missile defense system. The proposal must now be approved by the U.S. House of Representatives Committee on Appropriations. It will be submitted to the Senate at a later stage.

Israel currently has five Iron Dome batteries. The plan will give Israel another five batteries by the end of next year.

The U.S. also gives Israel $3.1 billion in military aid annually. U.S. Secretary of Defense Chuck Hagel promised that this would not be reduced even while significant cuts are being made to the U.S. defense budget.



AP Sources: US Leaning Toward OK On Lethal Aid To Syrian Rebels This Week; No-Fly Zone Unclear

Moved by the Assad regime's rapid advance, the Obama administration could decide this week to approve lethal aid for the beleaguered Syrian rebels and will weigh the merits of a less likely move to send in U.S. airpower to enforce a no-fly zone over the civil war-wracked nation, officials said Sunday.

White House meetings are planned over the coming days, as Syrian President Bashar Assad's government forces are apparently poised for an attack on the key city of Homs, which could cut off Syria's armed opposition from the south of the country. As many as 5,000 Hezbollah fighters are now in Syria, officials believe, helping the regime press on with its campaign after capturing the town of Qusair near the Lebanese border last week.

Opposition leaders have warned Washington that their rebellion could face devastating and irreversible losses without greater support, and the warnings are prompting the United States to consider drastic action.

Secretary of State John Kerry postponed a planned trip Monday to Israel and three other Mideast countries to participate in White House discussions, said officials who weren't authorized to speak publicly on the matter and demanded anonymity.

While nothing has been concretely decided, U.S. officials said President Barack Obama was leaning closer toward signing off on sending weapons to vetted, moderate rebel units. The U.S. has spoken of possibly arming the opposition in recent months but has been hesitant because it doesn't want to al-Qaida-linked and other extremists fighting alongside the anti-Assad militias to end up with the weapons.



Israeli Figures Show Rise In West Bank Settlement Starts Ahead Of Kerry Visit

JERUSALEM — Official Israeli figures show housing starts in West Bank settlements rose significantly in the first three months of 2013 compared to the same period last year — numbers that are likely to cast a shadow on the upcoming visit of U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry.

A document on housing starts released by the Central Bureau of Statistics showed that building in the West Bank jumped from 313 housing starts between January and March last year to 865 the same period this year.

The rise in building starts elicited criticism from the Palestinians, who insist they won’t return to peace talks unless Israel halts all settlement construction in the West Bank and east Jerusalem, areas they claim, along with the Gaza Strip, for a future state. Israel, which captured those areas in the 1967 Mideast war, says talks should resume without any conditions.

The statistics bureau’s report detailed housing starts country-wide. The West Bank housing represents the highest relative spike since last year compared to other regions in Israel, but it made up the smallest portion of new building compared to overall construction around the country.

The report, released at the end of May, comes days before Kerry is set to arrive to Israel in his bid to persuade both sides to return to negotiations. Kerry has been shuttling between the sides in recent months in hopes of finding a formula to restart negotiations. He is expected in the region this week on what would be his fifth visit since becoming Secretary of State early this year.



Libya Army Chief Resigns After Clash In Benghazi

TRIPOLI, Libya (AP) -- One of Libya's highest military officers resigned Sunday after clashes between protesters and a government-aligned militia he was in charge of left 31 people dead in the eastern city of Benghazi, the deadliest such violence in a country where armed factions hold sway.

The bloodshed underscored the growing public anger over the government's failure to build an army capable of reining in the militias that dominate parts of the country nearly two years after the fall of Moammar Gadhafi. The militias have become bolder in trying to shape Libya's politics.

The violence erupted Saturday when protesters in Benghazi, the country's second largest city, stormed the main camp of Libya Shield, a largely Islamist grouping of militias that are paid by the government to help maintain security. The protesters were demanding that the militias submit to the full authority of Libya's security forces or lay down their arms.

The clashes prompted Army Chief of Staff Maj. Gen. Youssef al-Mangoush to resign, citing the unusually high death toll from the violence. Al-Mangoush was due to be replaced soon, and the country's Congress voted in support of accepting his resignation Sunday.

He was in charge of the country's roughly 12 Libya Shield brigades, tasked with putting them on government payroll and directing them.



The Worst Argument Against The Apartheid Analogy

A senior employee at right-wing organization NGO Monitor penned an interesting op-ed in Israeli daily Yisrael Hayom this morning (Sunday).

NGO Monitor, which targets organizations and people who actively oppose the occupation, is obsessed with use of the term Apartheid. The piece by NGO Monitor’s deputy director of communications, Lena Abayev, is a longwinded attack on those who compare the situation in the West Bank to that of Apartheid South Africa.

Interestingly enough, there are only two sentences in which the author actually addresses reality on the ground in the West Bank. Sadly, they work against her argument:

Israel is guided by the rule of law and has not imposed any form of apartheid on its citizens or on its Palestinian neighbors. The residents of the West Bank cross the border into Israel every day for their livelihood, and their movements within Israel are not restricted.

Those mildly familiar with South African history know that the permit regime (aka Pass Laws) for blacks in South Africa was one of the most notorious aspects of Apartheid. Similar (but by no means identical) procedures are an inherent part of the regime to which millions of Palestinian non-citizens are subjected.



Israel Could Benefit From Syrian Civil War as Hamas and Hezbollah Face Setbacks

By Nathan Guttman
Published June 09, 2013, issue of June 14, 2013.

WASHINGTON — In the world of realpolitik, one country’s devastation is, at times, the other’s advantage. And the Syrian civil war, with tens of thousands of casualties and millions of refugees, is no different.

For Israel, its neighbor in the South, the disintegration of the Syrian state entails some suprising short-term national security benefits. Analysts looking at the region see some of Israel’s key opponents there losing support, and the focus shifting away from Israel’s conflict with the Palestinians and toward the burning issue of Syria.

“Compared to others, it makes Israel look less bad in the region,” said Bob Freedman, a visiting professor at Johns Hopkins University. He noted that early on in the Syrian civil war, Sunni leaders accused the regime of President Bashar al-Assad of being “worse than Israel.”
But while experts see in Syria’s chaos some short-term benefits for Israel as a byproduct, all agree that the long run promises more perils than opportunities. The greatest risk of all, they say, will be the need to face a fractured Syrian entity lacking central control and awash with extremists who may have access to advanced weapons systems.

In the meantime, however, recent developments have, among other things, degraded the standing of Hezbollah, the Lebanon-based, anti-Israel Shiite militia, which is fighting alongside Assad loyalists in Syria. The group has deployed thousands of fighters from their positions in Southern Lebanon into the Syrian battle theater, serving at times as the front force against the toughest opposition strongholds.

Read more: http://forward.com/articles/178158/israel-could-benefit-from-syrian-civil-war-as-hama/?p=all#ixzz2VkL09jOE

What Was the Israeli Involvement in Collecting Communications Intel for NSA?

Were Israeli companies Verint and Narus the ones that collected information from the U.S. communications network for the National Security Agency?

The question arises amid controversy over revelations that the NSA has been collecting the phone records of hundreds of millions of Americans every day, creating a database through which it can learn whether terror suspects have been in contact with people in the United States. It also was disclosed this week that the NSA has been gathering all Internet usage - audio, video, photographs, emails and searches - from nine major U.S. Internet providers, including Microsoft and Google, in hopes of detecting suspicious behavior that begins overseas.

According to an article in the American technology magazine “Wired” from April 2012, two Israeli companies – which the magazine describes as having close connections to the Israeli security community – conduct bugging and wiretapping for the NSA.

Verint, which took over its parent company Comverse Technology earlier this year, is responsible for tapping the communication lines of the American telephone giant Verizon, according to a past Verizon employee sited by James Bamford in Wired. Neither Verint nor Verizon commented on the matter.

Read more: http://forward.com/articles/178289/what-was-the-israeli-involvement-in-collecting-com/#ixzz2Vk6lbRkP

On Palestinians, Israel's Leadership Is Two-Faced

In late February 2002, shortly after Saudi Crown Prince Abdullah presented columnist Thomas Friedman with his famous Saudi peace plan, the director of Israel’s vaunted Mossad went to his boss, Prime Minister Ariel Sharon. His advice: Welcome the initiative as a bold step toward peace.

The plan offered Israel full recognition and normalized relations with all 22 Arab states, plus a declared end to the Israeli-Arab conflict, in exchange for Palestinian statehood along the pre-1967 lines. The Arab League was due to discuss the plan at a summit in Beirut at the end of March. An Israeli green light would help it along.

Sharon responded warily, then-Mossad chief Efraim Halevy told me some years later. He wanted clarifications. They agreed to ask that Sharon be invited to Beirut to get answers first-hand. Halevy approached an Arab League contact, who returned with a question: What would Sharon say in Beirut? Sharon replied that he would decide once he got there. And that ended that.

In Beirut, emboldened by Israel’s silence, the Syrians demanded a poison-pill clause calling for a “just solution” to the Palestinian refugee problem with an implied right of return. The drafters softened it with words requiring Israeli consent. Israelis hardly noticed; for them the plan had died a day before, on March 27, when Hamas bombed a community Seder in Netanya, killing 30 Israelis, in a declared attempt to derail the pact. In fact, it had been buried weeks earlier in the prime minister’s office.


Read more: http://forward.com/articles/178206/on-palestinians-israels-leadership-is-two-faced/?p=all#ixzz2Vk5lXnmk

US Unleashes Its Nuclear Site Bunker-Buster Bomb

UZI MAHNAIMI, TEL AVIV From: The Times June 10, 2013 12:00AM

THE US Air Force has used a 13-tonne bunker-busting bomb to destroy a replica of one of Iran's underground nuclear facilities, according to reports in Israel.

The results were passed by the Pentagon to Israeli officials in an attempt to convince them that the US is prepared to attack Iran's nuclear program and has the means to do so.

Details were leaked to Israeli newspapers last week.

The GBU-57B bomb took $US500 million ($526m) to develop and costs $US3.5m. Known as the massive ordnance penetrator, it is designed to be dropped from B-2 stealth bombers. Lieutenant-Colonel Jack Miller, a US Air Force spokesman, said last September that Global Strike Command had started to take delivery of the weapon.

The bomb can bore through more than 65m of rock and reinforced concrete at twice the speed of sound before detonating a three-tonne explosive charge. The 7m satellite-guided bomb is accurate to within 5m. Stealth technology is designed to make it invisible to Iranian air defences.


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