May 30/2018
Compiled & Prepared by: Elias Bejjani


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Bible Quotations
For the one who sanctifies and those who are sanctified all have one Father
Letter to the Hebrews 02/05-12: "God did not subject the coming world, about which we are speaking, to angels. But someone has testified somewhere, ‘What are human beings that you are mindful of them, or mortals, that you care for them? You have made them for a little while lower than the angels; you have crowned them with glory and honour, subjecting all things under their feet.’ Now in subjecting all things to them, God left nothing outside their control. As it is, we do not yet see everything in subjection to them, but we do see Jesus, who for a little while was made lower than the angels, now crowned with glory and honour because of the suffering of death, so that by the grace of God he might taste death for everyone. It was fitting that God, for whom and through whom all things exist, in bringing many children to glory, should make the pioneer of their salvation perfect through sufferings. For the one who sanctifies and those who are sanctified all have one Father. For this reason Jesus is not ashamed to call them brothers and sisters, saying, ‘I will

Titles For Latest LCCC Bulletin analysis & editorials from miscellaneous sources published on May 29-30/18
The Iranian Occupation is the cancer & not the corruption/Elias Bejjani/May 28/18
The May watershed and Lebanon/Mordechai Nisan/Jerusalem Post/May 29/18
Economic Research and the Public/Noah Smith/Bloomberg View/May 29/18
Bitcoin's Big Cleanup/Lionel Laurent/Bloomberg /Tuesday, 29 May, 2018
Turkey and Israel: From Loveless to Fracas/Burak Bekdil/Gatestone Institute/May 29, 2018
Italy's Pro-EU President Flouts Voters/Soeren Kern/Gatestone Institute/May 29, 2018
Israel pushes US to recognize Golan Heights sovereignty/Ben Caspit/The Momitor/May 29/2018

Titles For The Latest LCCC Lebanese Related News published on May 29-30/18
The Iranian Occupation is the cancer & not the corruption
Aoun holds parliamentary, diplomatic meetings
Hariri briefs Aoun on MP consultations
Hariri Travels to Saudi Arabia on Several-Day Visit
Hariri: I'm Keen on Consensus in Cabinet, President Share Reserved
Report: Demands for Sunni Cabinet Seats One of ‘Obstacles’ Facing Hariri
Lebanon Begins Oil and Gas Exploration
Lebanon: Aoun Calls on Judiciary to Support the State in Facing Corruption
Hezbollah Demands Ministerial Portfolio for its Sunni Allies
Lebanese Officer Charged for Framing Famed Actor as Israel Agent
Mustaqbal Urges 'Deterring Outlaws' in Baalbek, Warns of Syria's 'Law 10'
EU Inaugurates Border Management Training Center in Riyaq
U.S. Congressional Delegation Concludes Visit to Lebanon
The May watershed and Lebanon

Titles For Latest LCCC Bulletin For Miscellaneous Reports And News published on May 29-30/18
Trump Confirms Senior N.Korean Official En Route to US
Perpetrator, 2 Policemen Killed in Shooting in Belgium’s Liege
Macron Claims Saudi Arabia Held Lebanon's Prime Minister – and the Kingdom Is Fuming
HRW: Syria’s New Redevelopment Law Discourages Refugee Return
Iraqi Parliament Approves Manual Recounting of Election Votes
Tensions Soar as Israel Hits Gaza Bases After Mortar Fire
Iran Imposes New Restrictions to Clamp Down on Protests
Libyan Parties Convene in Paris
Cairo, Khartoum Discuss Outstanding Issues
Canada and United Arab Emirates agree to enhance cooperation

Latest LCCC Lebanese Related News published on May 29-30/18
The Iranian Occupation is the cancer & not the corruption
Elias Bejjani/May 28/18
The Iranian Occupation is the cancer that is devouring Lebanon in all domains and at all levels. Meanwhile the majority of our derailed merchant like politicians and after they shamefully surrendered to the occupier and became tools in its hands are viciously cheating the public and distracting its focus to the cancer's symptoms like corruption, and not on the main problem, which is the occupation.
Aoun holds parliamentary, diplomatic meetings
The Daily Star/May. 29, 2018 /BEIRUT: Baabda Palace witnessed Tuesday a series of diplomatic and parliamentary meetings concerning current political developments and the priorities for forming a new government, a statement from the presidency said.
President Michel Aoun held a meeting with Akkar MP Mustafa Hussein and Tripoli-Minyeh-Dinnieh MP Ali Darwish, both holding the Alawite seat in their respective districts. The MPs requested that the Alawite sect be represented in the Cabinet.
Aoun also met with Zahle MP Salim Aoun, who presented the president with the needs of the Bekaa region, in general, and the needs of Zahle, in particular. He thanked the president for the government's decision to finance projects in the region and to help the area prosper.
Baalbeck-Hermel MP Jamil al-Sayyed was also on the roster, meeting with Aoun to talk about the security situation in the Bekaa region. "I wished his excellency would continue with the measures taken by the Lebanese Army, as it reassures citizens, facilitates matters, and establishes security and stability in the region," Sayyed told reporters after the meeting, noting that the president shared his enthusiasm for this issue. Aoun also met with British Ambassador Hugo Shorter, who conveyed his congratulations over Lebanon's parliamentary elections, and noted that Britain would remain by Lebanon's side, providing the necessary support. The two briefly discussed developments in the regional situation.

Hariri briefs Aoun on MP consultations

The Daily Star/May. 29, 2018/BEIRUT: Prime Minister-designate Saad Hariri fed back to President Michel Aoun Tuesday on the consultations with MPs and blocs on the forthcoming Cabinet.After meeting Aoun at Baabda Palace, Hariri told reporters, “We discussed all the details [of the consultations] with the president, and I am keen on “entente” in the [new] government.” He added that he is "optimistic that the government formation process will be speedy.”

Hariri Travels to Saudi Arabia on Several-Day Visit
Naharnet/May 29/18/Prime Minister-designate Saad Hariri traveled Tuesday evening to Saudi Arabia on a several-day visit, his office said. Hariri traveled after delivering a speech at the annual iftar banquet of the Dar al-Aytam orphanage. “Lebanon today is facing great internal and external challenges. The ongoing regional escalation, militarily in Syria, politically in occupied Palestine after the unacceptable step of transferring the U.S. Embassy to Jerusalem, and strategically after the U.S. withdrawal from the nuclear agreement with Iran, all are reasons that urge us to double our efforts to continue protecting our country from the surrounding risks,” Hariri said at the event. “The first effort is to accelerate the formation of the government,” he added. The PM-designate said the country is before a “golden opportunity to start the long-awaited reforms and implement the Capital investment program.”“Its first phase was financed at CEDRE conference in Paris a few weeks ago. It will stimulate economic growth, provide the basic services to all the Lebanese and create employment opportunities,” he noted. Hariri added: “Thankfully, I can say that all the main political parties in the country and parliament are aware of the external risks and internal challenges. Thus, they agree on the necessity to speed up the formation of the government. There is also a consensus between President Michel Aoun, Speaker Nabih Berri and myself on the need to accelerate the administrative and economic reforms, including the fight against all kinds of corruption.”The premier-designate also emphasized that he remains committed to “preserving the basic understandings that protected stability and launched the process of making achievements in the resigned government.” He identified them as “the Taef Agreement, the Constitution, our democratic system, the Arab identity of Lebanon, and disassociating Lebanon from interfering in the affairs of the brotherly Arab countries in order to maintain the best relations with them.”Earlier on Tuesday, Saudi Arabia rejected French President Emmanuel Macron's comment that Hariri had been held against his will in the kingdom in November. Hariri announced on November 4 that he was stepping down in a televised address from Riyadh, only to rescind it the following month after Macron's intervention. In an interview broadcast Friday by French broadcaster BFMTV, Macron described how he waded into the crisis after Hariri resigned, allegedly under pressure from the Saudi crown prince. "Lebanon has since emerged from a serious crisis where, as I recall, a prime minister was held in Saudi Arabia for several weeks," Macron said. On Tuesday, a Saudi foreign ministry spokesman denied that Hariri was held against his will. "What the French president said in an interview with channel BFMTV that the kingdom had held Lebanese Prime Minister Saad Hariri is incorrect," he was quoted as saying by the official Saudi Press Agency. "The kingdom of Saudi Arabia was and still supports the stability and security of Lebanon and Prime Minister Hariri," he said.
The spokesman went on to accuse Saudi regional rival Iran and its powerful Lebanese ally, Hizbullah, of stoking instability in Lebanon. Macron's mediation in the crisis, which led Hariri to travel to Paris and then rescind his resignation, was seen by analysts as exposing the limits of Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman's authority. During a first visit to France in April as the heir to the Saudi throne, the prince and Macron hailed a warming of ties between Paris and Riyadh but conceded some differences over Iran. Al-Akhbar newspaper reported Tuesday that Hariri had “postponed” his trip to the kingdom “for a few days for unknown reasons.”Hariri was designated Thursday for a third term as Lebanon's prime minister.

Hariri: I'm Keen on Consensus in Cabinet, President Share Reserved
Naharnet/May 29/18/Prime Minister-designate Saad Hariri stressed Tuesday that President Michel Aoun will have a ministerial share in the new Cabinet separate than that of the Free Patriotic Movement. “I put him in the picture of the parliamentary consultations I conducted yesterday regarding the government formation,” said Hariri after talks with Aoun at the Baabda Palace.“I briefed the President on the positivity everyone is showing and President Aoun hoped the government will be formed as soon as possible and he showed great cooperation,” the PM-designate added. “I'm optimistic and God willing the government will be formed very quickly,” he went on to say. Asked whether he agreed with the President on specific “standards” such as “the rotation of portfolios,” the distribution of the so-called “sovereign portfolios” and whether the Cabinet will comprise “26 or 32 ministers,” Hariri said: “We discussed all these things and we agreed to brainstorm to find the best way to form the government.” “In my opinion, everyone is keen on representation in it and I am, in my turn, keen on consensus in it,” he added. Asked whether a preliminary line-up has been reached, the PM-designate said: “No, we only discussed ideas.”As for the share of his al-Mustaqbal Movement and whether it will get all the six seats allocated to the Sunni community, Hariri said: “I don't know, but al-Mustaqbal Movement is al-Mustaqbal Movement. No one can question its presence and the prime minister also exists and he also should have a share.”Asked whether the ten Sunni MPs who do not belong to al-Mustaqbal are eligible to have at least two ministerial portfolios, Hariri said: “Let them say what they want, but I'm present here.”

Report: Demands for Sunni Cabinet Seats One of ‘Obstacles’ Facing Hariri

Naharnet/May 29/18/One of the "main obstacles" facing PM-designate Saad Hariri’s bid to form a new government is “Hizbullah’s demand that a ministerial seat be allocated to a Sunni deputy close to the party,” the Saudi Asharq al-Awsat daily reported on Tuesday. “The party has presented its demand to Hariri during Monday’s consultations, and is expected to reiterate it later on,” well-informed sources told the daily on condition of anonymity. "Hizbullah’s demand that Sunni MPs close to the party be given a cabinet seat in the next government stems from the fact that Lebanon’s parliament has 10 deputies now from outside Hariri’s al-Mustaqbal bloc," said the daily. Al-Mustaqbal used to acquire the entire Sunni quota in previous parliament assemblies, which authorized it to get the entire Sunni ministries in the successive governments. Counter demands for Sunni Cabinet shares did not stop at Hizbullah and al-Mustaqbal bloc. Ex-PM Najib Miqati (MP-elect) has also asked Hariri for a seat, arguing that his four-member parliamentary bloc entitles him for that, according to the daily. Miqati's sources told Asharq al-Awsat that “he and his bloc during parliamentary consultations yesterday presented Hariri with more than one option, including obtaining a ministry for a Sunni figure, without closing the door on other options as a Christian minister.”“In fact, Hariri faces four obstacles embodied in the allocation of the Finance Ministry, the share of the Druze, the share of Sunnis from the March 8 camp, distancing the Lebanese Forces from the so-called sovereign portfolios and the share allocated to the President,” said the daily.
Lebanon Begins Oil and Gas Exploration
Asharq Al-Awsat/Tuesday, 29 May, 2018/Lebanon kicked off on Tuesday its first exploration of offshore oil and gas reserves. Energy and Water Minister Cesar Abi Khalil said in a televised statement that exploration started after authorities gave the go ahead on Monday. Earlier this year, authorities had approved an exploration plan submitted by a consortium of France's Total, Italy's Eni and Russia's Novatek. Lebanon hoped to launch a second offshore licensing round by the end of 2018 or early 2019, Abi Khalil said. In February Beirut signed its first offshore oil and gas exploration and production agreements with the Total-Eni-Novatek consortium for offshore Blocks 4 and 9. Part of Block 9 contains waters disputed with neighboring Israel but the consortium has said it has no plans to drill in the disputed area. Abi Khalil said exploration of the two blocks would last up to three years and the first well is expected to be drilled in 2019, providing all government departments grant necessary licenses and permissions "on time and without delay". Until drilling begins Lebanon will not know what reserves lie in its waters. Abi Khalil said exploratory wells will be dug in the areas with the highest probability of commercially viable discoveries based on seismic studies. Lebanon has an unresolved maritime border dispute with Israel over a triangular area of sea of around 860 sq km (330 square miles) that extends along the edge of three of its total 10 blocks. The agreement in February on offshore exploration drew sharp criticism from Israel, escalating tensions Lebanon, which have since eased. Lebanon is on the Levant Basin in the eastern Mediterranean where a number of big sub-sea gas fields have been discovered since 2009. Potential reserves could be used domestically or exported. Both are attractive for Lebanon which has been short of electricity since its 1975-90 civil war and has an anemic economy battered by war in neighboring Syria and political tensions. It is also hoped the developing oil and gas industry will create jobs and economic growth. But the commercial viability of potential reserves depends on energy market prices, the ability to secure customers and the cost and politics of building export infrastructure.

Lebanon: Aoun Calls on Judiciary to Support the State in Facing Corruption

Beirut - Asharq Al-Awsat/Tuesday, 29 May, 2018/Lebanon’s President Michel Aoun on Monday underlined the fundamental role of judges in eradicating corruption, urging them to support the State's upcoming fight against this plague. Aoun’s remarks came during his meeting on Monday at the Baabda Palace with seven judges who were recently appointed to the Higher Judicial Council. The judges were sworn in before the president. “Your oath is an extension to mine to preserve the law,” Aoun said in an address to the delegation, in the presence of Justice Minister Salim Jreissati.
Aoun urged the new Higher Judicial Council judges to tell him about any problems they would face in the future with politicians. “Do not be confused in the application of laws and the maintenance of your oath, and do not respond to the pressures from any party. I protect the judiciary with all my competences, and I am always ready to defend it,” he stated. Aoun asked the judges to preserve the dignity of the judiciary, “because at the same time you will be preserving the dignity of the government; and with the Constitutional Council, you preserve the Constitution.”
President of the Higher Judicial Council, Judge Jean Fahed, stressed that one of the judge’s “first duties is to be independent in the exercise of his judicial work.”“A lot of politicians and public affairs workers often contact some judges to influence the course of the investigation or trial”, he said, calling for the need to deploy efforts “to address this phenomenon, which puts the judge in a daily challenged under the struggle of facing a moment of weakness.”
Hezbollah Demands Ministerial Portfolio for its Sunni Allies
Beirut - Paula Astih/Asharq Al Awsat/May 29/18/A request made by Hezbollah for a ministerial portfolio to its Sunni allies in the new parliament was on Monday seen as an obstacle to the cabinet formation efforts of PM-designate Saad Hariri who kicked off consultations with parliamentary blocs on the shape of the new government. The Shiite party sees its demand as legitimate after the latest parliamentary elections resulted in the victory of 10 Sunni lawmakers not directly falling “under the umbrella” of Hariri’s al-Mustaqbal Movement. In previous parliaments, most Sunni lawmakers were from Hariri’s bloc, which allowed him to appoint all of the sect’s ministers. After a meeting with Hariri on Monday, head of Hezbollah’s Loyalty to the Resistance bloc MP Mohammed Raad did not reveal that the party requested a Sunni portfolio. Raad said the bloc had requested an “important” portfolio and reiterated the need for a Ministry of Planning. However, informed sources told Asharq Al-Awsat that the party made the demand during the bloc’s meeting with Hariri on Monday. “Hezbollah plans to stress this condition in the coming stage,” the sources said. Most Mustaqbal deputies preferred not to comment on Hezbollah’s new demand, considering that the Shiite party has not yet officially announced it. However, sources close to Hariri’s Movement said that in the case Hezbollah insists on receiving a Sunni seat in the new cabinet, al-Mustaqbal would in return request a portfolio to a Shiite figure that is close to the PM. “All Sunni MPs who won in the last elections from outside the Mustaqbal Movement, do not form a joint bloc, but are rather independents, therefore, they are not allowed to receive a ministerial seat,” the sources said. Recently, President Michel Aoun expressed a desire to appoint a Sunni minister from his share in the new cabinet. The sources said that in such a case, al-Mustaqbal would accept to offer one of its Sunni seats to the President in return for receiving a seat reserved for a Christian.

Lebanese Officer Charged for Framing Famed Actor as Israel Agent
Asharq Al-Awsat/Tuesday, 29 May, 2018/Lebanese authorities charged on Tuesday a high-ranking officer with "fabricating" evidence against a prominent actor in attempt to frame him as an Israel agent, a judicial source told AFP. Lieutenant Colonel Suzanne Hajj "was charged with fabricating the case of collaboration with Israel brought against actor Ziad Itani, as well as hacking websites and inventing non-existent crimes", the judicial source said. Lebanon, which technically remains at war with its southern neighbor, upholds a boycott of Israeli products and of contact with its nationals. Hajj, who headed a unit in Lebanon's Internal Security Forces tasked with fighting cybercrime, was detained for questioning in March over suspicions she had enlisted the help of a hacker to fabricate conversations between Itani and an Israeli woman. She remained in detention until Tuesday, and was released on the condition that she would continue to appear at the military tribunal for hearings, the source said. The charges against her are yet another chapter in the strange case. Lebanese were shocked when news broke in November that Itani had allegedly confessed to having been "tasked to monitor a group of high-level political figures" and their associates on behalf of Israel. People close to the actor said his "confession" was extracted under duress, though the authorities have denied the accusation. Lebanese authorities released him in March and simultaneously issued an arrest warrant for Hajj, who they suspected of having framed him. At the time, a source close to the investigation said Hajj had sought revenge against Itani after he shed light on her liking a controversial post on Twitter last year, after which she was demoted. Itani has shot to prominence in recent years because of a series of comedy plays on Beirut, its customs and the transformations it has undergone in recent decades.
Mustaqbal Urges 'Deterring Outlaws' in Baalbek, Warns of Syria's 'Law 10'
Naharnet/May 29/18/Al-Mustaqbal parliamentary bloc on Tuesday urged security forces to rein in “outlaws” in the city of Baalbek and its suburbs, as it warned over a controversial new Syrian property law. “The bloc discussed the security situations in the city of Baalbek and its region, stressing that the legitimate forces of the army and Internal Security Forces should shoulder their full responsibility in deterring violators and outlaws and providing protection for all citizens in their homes and work places,” Mustaqbal said in a statement issued after its weekly meeting. Separately, the bloc said it reiterated its stance “on Law 10 that has been issued by the Syrian regime, which calls on Syrians to register their properties within one month or face their appropriation by the state.”Mustaqbal warned that “this law is targeted against hundreds of thousands of Syrian refugees who fled the inferno of war to neighboring countries, including Lebanon which is concerned with finding a final solution to this humanitarian dilemma and alleviating its repercussions on the Lebanese and the national economy.”Human Rights Watch has warned that Law 10 empowers authorities to confiscate property without compensating the owners or giving them an opportunity to appeal. The Syrian Government passed Law 10 in April to create "redevelopment zones" to rebuild property damaged in the seven years of civil war. HRW released a report on Tuesday saying the Syrian government also passed two previous laws, in 2012, letting authorities seizes property and assets without due process. The New York-based watchdog says the Damascus government has a record of using these laws to demolish neighborhoods that opposed President Bashar Assad's rule.

EU Inaugurates Border Management Training Center in Riyaq

Naharnet/May 29/18/As part of its “longstanding commitment to the stability and resilience of Lebanon,” the European Union inaugurated Tuesday a center for Integrated Border Management (IBM) training at the Riyaq military base, the EU Delegation to Lebanon said.
“The training center will contribute to strengthening the cooperation between all relevant authorities and agencies involved in border security, trade facilitation and the movement of persons, namely the Lebanese Armed Forces, Internal Security Forces, General Security, Customs and Civil Defense,” the Delegation said in a statement. The ceremony was held under the patronage of Lebanese Army Commander General Joseph Aoun, represented by Brigadier-General Amin al-Orm, and in the presence of EU Ambassador Christina Lassen, Ambassador of the Netherlands Jan Waltmans, and representatives from Lebanese security agencies. During the inauguration, Lassen talked about the European Union's “broad support to Lebanon's security sector, especially following the Rome II ministerial meeting in support of the LAF and ISF, in which the EU was a main donor,” the EU Delegation said. "Today's inauguration of a new Integrated Border Management training center is yet another tangible proof of our longstanding support," Lassen said. She underlined that "Lebanon's stability is a main concern for the European Union and for the international community.”“We firmly believe that only a stable security environment can pave the way for increased investments and long-term economic development in the country that is so badly needed,” Lassen added. The border management program, which is implemented by the International Center for Migration Policy Development, assists border agencies to increase the security of citizens, secure and control borders for a smoother and safer movement of people, and facilitate trade, development and human interaction, all the while promoting “international human rights standards.”

U.S. Congressional Delegation Concludes Visit to Lebanon
Naharnet/May 29/18/Democratic U.S. Senator Cory Booker led a Congressional delegation that concluded a one-day visit to Lebanon on Monday. The delegation's meetings with Prime Minister-designate Saad Hariri, Lebanese Army Commander General Joseph Aoun and UNIFIL Deputy Head of Mission Imran Riza focused on “security cooperation between the United States and Lebanon,” the U.S. embassy in Beirut said in a statement. The delegation also visited the Bekaa Valley, where they met with local officials and beneficiaries of a USAID water project in Rassieh.
The Rassieh water facility operated by the Bekaa Water Establishment (BWE) comprises of a Pump Station and Water Treatment Plant that treats and pumps 320m³ of drinking water per hour, to approximately 28,580 people in the city of Zahle. USAID, under a previous project, upgraded the facility’s water testing laboratory including rehabilitation of the building, provision of equipment, and training of technicians. “USAID is continuing to provide assistance to BWE under the Lebanon Water Project (LWP). USAID’s assistance has helped and continues to help BWE improve the water supply service for citizens throughout Zahleh and the Bekaa region,” the embassy said.
The May watershed and Lebanon
Mordechai Nisan/Jerusalem Post/May 29/18
We stand at a watershed, and the tides are shifting.
This month of May has been exceptionally hot in the Middle East, recording a number of major political events bound by a common thread. The primary focus is Iran and its proxies and allies, while America’s President Donald Trump seeks to shape a new reality. The air is filled with anxiety, the inferno burns in Syria, Gaza, Iraq and Yemen.
• On May 6, amid charges of fraud and intimidation, Hezbollah achieved a victory in Lebanon’s parliamentary elections. This does not change the confessional distribution of seats, fixed at 64:64 Christian-Muslim representation, with the Shi’ites awarded 27, but it does confirm that 67 of the 128 deputies are lined up with the Shi’ite Hezbollah militia. While Lebanese Prime Minister Sa’ad Hariri and his Sunni-led Future Party list declined, the “strategic alliance” binding  Hezbollah leader Hassan Nasrallah with Maronite President Michel Aoun and his Free Patriotic Movement – hardly free or patriotic –held fast. Meanwhile Hezbollah continues to thoroughly dominate Lebanon, an armed state within a faltering non-state, defining foreign policy, provoking Israel, monitoring the Beirut International Airport, smuggling weapons into the country and penetrating the command of the Lebanese Army.
• On May 8, the United States announced its withdrawal from the 2015 Iran nuclear deal, together with the imposition of new and harsh sanctions against the Iranian regime. President Trump’s decision was followed by a major policy statement by Secretary of State Pompeo on May 22, when he outlined demands addressed to Iran: to cease its nuclear program and ballistic missile development, withdraw its forces from Syria, end support to Mideast terrorist groups –Hezbollah, Hamas and Islamic Jihad, stop threatening Israel with destruction, and end attacks against Saudi Arabia. The secretary inferred that the US would assure that all these demands will, if not fulfilled by Tehran’s consent, be guaranteed by US action.
• On May 10, Israel responded to an Iranian-initiated rocket attack from Syrian territory toward the Golan Heights with extensive aerial strikes against Iranian targets – weapons sites and intelligence centers. Twenty-eight Israeli planes participated in the largest attack by Israel into Syria since 1974.
• On May 12, Iraqi parliamentary elections were held in the midst of multiple political challenges facing that war-torn, Sunni-Shi’ite religion.
• On May 23, Israelis and Lebanese recalled the IDF withdrawal from south Lebanon 18 years earlier in 2000. While there was an arguable security rationale for the decision, it was carried out in total deception and abandonment of Israel’s South Lebanese Army (SLA) ally, whose soldiers and families were compelled to flee to Israel. The Lebanese lost their homes and country, and suffered humiliation. This moral scar on Israel’s conscience has not been removed to this day.
Iran was definitely at the center of things, as it has been the engine of the evil axis since its Islamic Revolution in 1979. But now the tide was turning against her. Protests against the regime in Iran, from Mashed to Fars province, focused on the high cost of living, currency collapse, unemployment, and a regime marred by corruption and old age. The political ice in Iran was cracking at the end of the spring thaw.
The Iranian/Syrian occupation regime in Lebanon, spreading a pallor of fear in the country, executed its oppressive control over the decades by assassinating opposition figures from all religious denominations – presidents, parliamentarians, army officers, religious figures and journalists. This modus operandi gives insight into why and how Hezbollah made gains in the recent elections. The American demand for Lebanon’s liberation from the ayatollahs’iron grip is in accord with United Nations Security Council resolutions 520 (1982), 1559 (2004), and 1701 (2006). These called for the withdrawal of foreign forces from Lebanon and for the disarming of Hezbollah. Yet this terrorist gang and international outlaw parades the formula of “army, people and resistance” as a Lebanese consensus position. It may appear so only because the silent agony of the Lebanese is drowned in tears of subjugation, while the political class – full of traitors, opportunists, cowards and sycophants – has abandoned its responsibility as guardians of Lebanon’s sacred mission of peace, faith and tolerance.
The lack of popular protest in the streets of Lebanon does not reflect heartfelt acceptance of Hezbollah’s abduction of the country; rather the people live in fear, hostages of a hostile and vicious gun-wielding pack of ruffians. Hezbollah took to violence in fighting Sunnis and Druse in clashes in the streets of Beirut in earlier years, this in defiance of their promise that its weapons are aimed only at Israel. President Trump offers a glimmer of hope that Lebanon will return to embrace its special national mystique when liberated – along with Iran itself – from repression by a religiously dogmatic and repressive Shi’ite regime.
When Hezbollah’s conquest of Lebanon ends, however that may occur, the SLA families in Israel will then be able to return home in safety and dignity. Israel’s flagrant injustice to its Lebanese brothersin-arms will finally be mended. Nowhere was it written that Israel had a right to determine the fate of the SLA fighters, because in 2000 they could have stayed to fight Hezbollah to protect their families, homes, and native villages.
*The writer authored two books on Lebanon: The Conscience of Lebanon: A Political Biography of Etienne Sakr (Abu-Arz) (2003), and Politics and War in Lebanon: Unraveling the Enigma (2015).
Copyright © 2014 Jpost Inc. All rights reserved
Latest LCCC Bulletin For Miscellaneous Reports And News published on May 29-30/18
Trump Confirms Senior N.Korean Official En Route to US
Agence France Presse/Naharnet/May 29/18/President Donald Trump confirmed Tuesday that a senior North Korean official is en route to New York as part of preparations for a planned summit with leader Kim Jong Un.
"We have put a great team together for our talks with North Korea. Meetings are currently taking place concerning Summit, and more. Kim Young Chol, the Vice Chairman of North Korea, heading now to New York. Solid response to my letter, thank you!" Trump wrote in a tweet. General Kim Yong Chol landed at Beijing airport on Tuesday and will continue on to New York the following day after talks with Chinese officials, South Korea's Yonhap news agency reported earlier, quoting diplomatic sources. The trip is part of a flurry of diplomacy as preparations gather pace for the on-again, off-again summit between Trump and North Korea's leader, scheduled to take place in Singapore on June 12.
Perpetrator, 2 Policemen Killed in Shooting in Belgium’s Liege
Asharq Al-Awsat/Tuesday, 29 May, 2018/A gunman killed on Tuesday two Belgian female police officers with their own weapons before killing a bystander, in what authorities feared was a terrorist attack. The bloodshed in the gritty eastern industrial city of Liege began around 10:30 am (0830 GMT) when the attacker armed with a knife repeatedly stabbed the two officers before using their own firearms to kill them, prosecutors said."Armed with a knife, the suspect followed and attacked two police officers, and used their own firearms to kill them," prosecutor Philippe Dulieu told a news conference. "He continued on foot, attacking a parked vehicle where he opened fire on a 22-year-old man in the passenger seat. The young man died. "He then continued and entered the Leonie de Waha school. He took a woman working there as hostage. Police intervened, he came out firing on the police officers, wounding several before he was killed."Federal prosecutors said they had launched a terror investigation into the incident. Police Chief Christian Beaupere said the slain officers were 45-years-old and 53-years-old, the latter the mother of twins. Four other officers were wounded in the attack, one of them seriously with a severed femoral artery. "The goal of the attacker was to target the police," Beaupere said. Justice Minister Koen Geens said the assailant was on a two-day leave from prison. Geens described him as a repeat offender who had been incarcerated since 2003 and was due for release in two years. A source close to the investigation identified to AFP the attacker as Benjamin Herman, born in 1982, saying he had past convictions for robbery, violence and drug dealing. Herman was "already on the run" after committing another murder on Monday night in the town of On, in southern Belgium, the source said, though local prosecutors said they have not yet established a link with the Liege incident. "He is suspected of having been radicalized (in prison)," the source said on condition of anonymity. A Twitter user posted dramatic footage of the violent climax to the incident. As a group of armed officers approach the entrance to the school, the black-clad gunman bursts out with a gun in each hand, before collapsing under a deafening hail of police bullets. The governor of Liege province said all the children and staff were safe and unhurt. Liege police chief Christian Beaupere said it was "clear that the assassin's objective was to attack the police." He added that one of the four officers wounded in the attack had suffered a serious leg injury. Liege, a major city in Western Europe's former industrial heartland, was the scene of another bloody shootout in 2011. In that attack a former convict armed with grenades and an automatic rifle killed six people and wounded more than 120. Prime Minister Charles Michel denounced what he called the "cowardly and blind violence" of Tuesday's attack. "All our support for the victims and their loved ones. We are following the situation with the security services and the crisis center," Michel tweeted. There was support from other European countries, with French President Emmanuel Macron condemning the incident as a "terrible attack" and expressing the "solidarity of the French people". British Prime Minister Theresa May said the UK "stands resolute with our Belgian allies against terror".Belgium has been on high alert since authorities in January 2015 smashed a terror cell in the town of Verviers that was planning an attack on police. The cell also had links to Abdelhamid Abaaoud, the mastermind of the November 2015 ISIS attacks on Paris that killed 130 people. Belgium was then hit itself by ISIS suicide attacks on Brussels airport and a metro station, which killed 32 people in March 2016
Macron Claims Saudi Arabia Held Lebanon's Prime Minister – and the Kingdom Is Fuming
Reuters May 29, 2018/Saudi Arabia's Foreign Ministry denied French President Emmanuel Macron's assertion that the kingdom held Lebanese Prime Minister Saad al-Hariri captive last November, official Saudi media reported on Tuesday. In an interview with broadcaster BFM TV last week, Macron claimed credit for heading off war in Lebanon, which was plunged into crisis after Hariri resigned while in Saudi Arabia, saying he feared assassination and criticising the Saudis' regional rival Iran and its Lebanese ally Hezbollah. Sources close to Hariri have said Saudi Arabia had concluded that the prime minister, a long-time Saudi ally, had to go because he was unwilling to confront Hezbollah. After international intervention, including by Macron, Hariri was able to leave the kingdom and eventually rescinded his resignation. Lebanese officials accused the Saudis at the time of holding Hariri hostage. Riyadh, like Hariri, denied he was ever held against his will. The Saudi Foreign Ministry statement on Tuesday called Macron's comments "untrue" and said the kingdom would continue to support Lebanon's stability and security. "All the evidence confirms that what is pulling Lebanon and the region towards instability is Iran and its tools like the Hezbollah terrorist militia..." the statement said. Saudi Arabia and Iran are locked in a decades-old struggle for regional influence, which plays out in armed conflicts and political disputes including in Lebanon, Syria, Iraq and Yemen. France had nurtured new links with Saudi Arabia and other Gulf Arab states in recent years due to its tough stance on Iran in nuclear negotiations, and the broad similarity of their policies on conflicts across the Middle East.However, Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman’s uncompromising efforts to counter Iran’s growing influence in the Middle East are sometimes perceived as reckless in Paris. Macron dined with Hariri and Prince Mohammed in Paris in April after a conference to rally international support for an investment programme to boost the Lebanese economy. Hariri, who visited Riyadh in February for the first time since the November crisis, is working to form a new coalition after a May 6 parliamentary election which strengthened his rival Hezbollah and its political allies. They won just over half the seats in parliament, while Hariri lost over a third of his seats. Under Lebanon's sectarian power-sharing system, though, he remains the frontrunner to form the next government.

HRW: Syria’s New Redevelopment Law Discourages Refugee Return
Asharq Al-Awsat/Tuesday, 29 May, 2018/Human Rights Watch condemned on Tuesday the Syrian regime over a recent law it approved that is aimed at redeveloping areas devastated by seven years of war. The rights watchdog charged the regime with passing laws to allow itself to seize private property, displace residents and discourage refugees from returning to the war-battered country. The latest such bill, known as Law 10, empowers authorities to confiscate property without compensating the owners or giving them an opportunity to appeal. The regime passed Law 10 in April to create "redevelopment zones" to rebuild property damaged in the seven years of civil war. Lebanon had last week expressed concern over the law. Prime Minister Saad Hariri said the law "tells thousands of Syrian families to stay in Lebanon" by threatening them with property confiscation. Lebanon hosts more than a million Syrian refugees and Foreign Minister Jebran Bassil expressed concern over the limited time frame given for refugees to prove possession of their properties. He said it could impede the return of Syrian refugees to their homes. "The inability of the refugees to practically present what proves their possession (of their properties) during the given time limit might lead to them losing their properties and their sense of national identity," Bassil said in a letter to his Syrian counterpart Walid al-Muallem. HRW released a report on Tuesday saying the regime also passed two previous laws, in 2012, letting authorities seize property and assets without due process. The New York-based watchdog says the Damascus regime has a record of using these laws to demolish neighborhoods that opposed Bashar Assad's rule. Bassil had sent a letter to UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres, calling for action to protect the rights of Syrian refugees in maintaining their properties.
Iraqi Parliament Approves Manual Recounting of Election Votes
Baghdad – Asharq Al-Awsat/Tuesday, 29 May, 2018/Iraq’s parliament successfully held its fourth emergency session to discuss election results on Monday, pushing the session until late afternoon while waiting for holding quorum. At least 165 lawmakers need to be attending for a parliamentary session to kick off legitimately. More so, the Iraqi parliament approved manual recounting of 10 percent of votes in the May 12 parliamentary election amid allegations of fraud, forgery and irregularities. If there is 25 percent difference between the results of the manual and electronic count, then all Iraqi provinces are to undergo a full manual recount. The parliament’s decision also called for ‘voiding expat votes and conditional voting in internal displacement camps in Anbar, Salahuddin, Nineveh and Diyala provinces.’ Their votes were cancelled out due to the abundance in evidence of forgery and dissuasion of voters. For his part, Parliament Speaker Salim al-Jabouri called on judicial authorities and the Integrity Commission charged with probing election results to maintain the democratic practice in the political process in the country. Jabouri said that authorities work towards eliminating errors or manipulation that could have tampered with the Iraqi votes, pointing out that the emergency session came after the excesses of evidence of foul play affecting results were mounting. For his part, the Al-Ahrar Bloc MP Riyad Ghali Saadi said several violations occurred with Monday’s emergency session. In a press conference, Saadi said that the extraordinary session has seen several violations, where there was no official invitation to attend, and no agenda. He pointed out that quorum was not completed with only 140 attending MPs, mostly of the blocs which lost the election. On May 19, the Iraqi Independent High Electoral Commission (IHEC) announced the final results of the parliamentary election, which showed that the al-Sa'iroon Coalition, led by Shiite cleric Moqtada al-Sadr, was the front-runner by winning 54 of the 329 parliament seats. The al-Fath Coalition, led by Hadi al-Ameri, came in the second place with 47 seats, while the al-Nasr Coalition, led by Iraqi Prime Minister Haider al-Abadi, came in third with 42 seats. The State of Law Coalition, headed by Vice President and former Prime Minister Nuri al-Maliki, garnered 25 seats. Head of the parliamentary Legal Committee Mohsen al-Saadoun said that the decisions taken by the House of Representatives on the elections have no real-time impact. But some notable politicians disprove saying that the parliamentary decision is binding. “Decisions do not annul the laws voted upon. Law No. (45) issued by Parliament approved the issue of electronic voting, and cannot be canceled by the decision of manual counting," head of the Iraqi Front for National Dialogue MP Saleh al-Mutlaq told Asharq Al-Awsat.

Tensions Soar as Israel Hits Gaza Bases After Mortar Fire
Gaza- Asharq Al Awsat/Tuesday, 29 May, 2018/Israel carried out strikes against bases in the Gaza Strip on Tuesday after Palestinians launched their heaviest barrages against Israel since the 2914 Gaza war. The firing of some 28 mortar shells toward Israel caused no injuries, with most intercepted by air defense systems, but Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu vowed a forceful response. "Israel takes a grave view of the attacks on it and its communities by Hamas and Jihad from the Gaza Strip,” he said during a conference in northern Israel, adding that the military would respond “forcefully.” One mortar shell exploded near a kindergarten building, a military spokesman said, causing damage to the structure. Shortly after Netanyahu spoke, Israel's military began carrying out strikes in Gaza. Israel's military said it was "currently operating in the Gaza Strip. The explosions heard are related to this activity. Details to follow."
It did not confirm whether the response was air strikes, other means such as tank or missile fire or a combination. Gazan sources spoke of air strikes. Tuesday's incidents came after weeks of deadly demonstrations and clashes along the Gaza-Israel border, beginning on March 30. Tensions have been spiraling along the border with protests struggling to challenge the 11-year blockade of the Gaza Strip and to press Palestinian claims to lands in what is now Israel, which has responded to certain events with airstrikes against military targets in Gaza. The protests have called for Palestinians who fled or were expelled in the 1948 war surrounding Israel's creation to be allowed to return to their former homes now inside Israel. They peaked on May 14, when at least 61 Palestinians were killed as tens of thousands of Gazans protested and clashes erupted on the same day of the US transfer of its embassy in Israel from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem. Demonstrations and clashes have continued at a low level since then. At least 121 Palestinians have been killed by Israeli fire in the unrest. Israel says its actions are necessary to defend its borders and accuses Hamas of encouraging thousands of Palestinians to break through the border and attack Israelis. It has fought three wars with Hamas since 2008. But Israel has faced international criticism and calls for an independent investigation over its use of live fire during the protests and clashes along the border.
No Israelis have been killed and only one soldier has been reported lightly wounded.

Iran Imposes New Restrictions to Clamp Down on Protests

London- Adil al Salmi/Asharq Al Awsat/May 29/18/
Iran’s Interior Ministry has approved another measure that restricts areas where public demonstrations can be held. The new law, which covers many Iranian cities, is seen as a proactive measure initiated by various security and military agencies. Iranian authorities had faced popular uprisings in late December 2017 which carried into early 2018. As the pace of protests and strikes escalated, Iran’s conservative authorities, such as the Revolutionary Guard, resorted to coercive restrictions to stifle protests, with the measure being the most recent encroachment on Iranian freedoms. Interior Ministry’s Political Department Director-General Bahram Sarmast told a press conference that the government approved the appointment of special places for protest gatherings in Tehran and other centers in Iranian provinces and cities. The law provides for the government to choose venues for Iranian protests. Government officials justified the bill by saying that it was looking after hearing the voice of the protesters and providing security without disturbing workplaces and livelihood of uninvolved people. Sarmast said that the government has not yet directed the concerned bodies, but authorities will strictly monitor parks, sports fields and squares designated for protests. The government says the decision guarantees “citizenship rights.” However, Iran’s constitution stipulates the protection of the freedom to nonviolently gather and demonstrate anywhere and at any time, without violating the principles of the Islam.Ministry of Interior’s announcement comes after high-note warnings and orders by Iranian judiciary spokesman, who asked security services and the police to ‘firmly’ face any disturbances that threaten national stability. Iran’s conservatives, who hold true power in the cleric-led regime, heavily lean on accusations against the US administration and Tehran-sensitive countries to justify passing oppressive measures. The judicial official even went as far as warning Iranian families against taking part in protests. Iran’s Supreme Leader Ali Khamenei on Wednesday accused the US administration of plotting to topple the regime. Khamenei's comment came in response to remarks made by the newly appointed Secretary of State Mike Pompeo, who has announced 12 conditions for a US return to negotiations with the Iranian regime. The US had exited the Iran nuclear deal after accusing Tehran of non-compliance with the agreement’s conditions and pursuing regional aggression.

Libyan Parties Convene in Paris

Cairo - Khalid Mahmoud/Asharq Ah Awsat/May 29/18/The international conference on Libya, which brought together Libyan parties and representatives of 19 regional and international organizations, was launched in Paris on Tuesday under the chairmanship of French President Emanuel Macron. The French presidency called on the Libyan officials and international community to participate in implementing a comprehensive political roadmap to end Libya’s crisis which has severely affected the country and the region. The presidency added that after seven years of tension and conflict, this conference aims at launching a new period of stability and cooperation, that is anticipated by the Libyans. The High Council of State (HCS) voted on Monday to attend the Paris conference but on four conditions: the political deal signed in Skheirat in 2015 would be the legal framework of the initiative, elections wouldn't be held before a referendum on the constitution, the importance of military institutions operating under civilian authority, and implementing a prompt ceasefire in the eastern city of Derna and lifting the siege. Paris invited the neighboring countries of Libya in addition to Morocco, UAE and Qatar to the conference which also witnessed the participation of the African Union (AU), Arab League and European Union in addition to the four permanent UN Security Council members (China, US, UK and Russia) plus Italy and Germany. In return, 13 armed groups in western Libya cast doubt on the talks in Paris, saying the French initiative doesn’t represent them. They declared their opposition to "any initiative aimed at normalizing military rule". Further, the army continued to advance towards Derna in an operation aimed at expelling extremist groups there.

Cairo, Khartoum Discuss Outstanding Issues
Cairo - Sawsan Abu Husain/Asharq Al Awsat/May 29/18/Egypt’s Foreign Minister Sameh Shoukry will meet on Tuesday with his Sudanese counterpart, Al Dirdiri Mohamed Ahmed, who is on his first official visit to Cairo since his appointment. According to the Egyptian Foreign Ministry, the talks, which will be held at the ministry’s headquarters in Cairo, are expected to discuss Egyptian-Sudanese relations and regional issues of common concern. The two ministers will hold a joint press conference following their meeting. “Discussions will focus on ways and means to strengthen relations between the two countries and their peoples, and activating the mechanisms approved by President Omar Hassan al-Bashir and President Abdel-Fattah el-Sisi at more than one summit to resolve the outstanding issues,” Sudan’s Ambassador to Cairo Abdel Mahmoud Abdel Halim said. In remarks to Asharq Al-Awsat, the diplomat said that talks would also touch on Arab and African affairs, especially the situation in Libya, Yemen and Syria, as well as enhancing coordination between the two countries in international and regional forums. He explained that the talks between the ministers would specify the appropriate date for the meetings of the two countries’ ministers of foreign affairs and intelligence chiefs, which is supposed to take place in Khartoum. The ambassador revealed that a meeting will be held in Cairo for the cooperation committee between the countries of Egypt, Sudan and Ethiopia regarding the Renaissance Dam on June 18-19, and would gather the ministers of foreign affairs, irrigation and intelligence to follow-up on the agreements reached in Addis Ababa earlier this month. Relations between Khartoum and Cairo were strained earlier this year, as Bashir accused Cairo of supporting Sudanese dissidents. In turn, Egyptian media have repeatedly accused Khartoum of harboring members of the Muslim Brotherhood, which Cairo considers a terrorist organization. Tension between the two countries has also increased due to differences over Ethiopia’s construction of the Great Renaissance Dam on the Nile River, and Sudan’s explicit support for the Ethiopian position. Egypt fears that the dam will affect its share of Nile waters. Sisi and his Sudanese counterpart agreed in March to overcome their differences and strengthen security ties and cooperation at the first bilateral summit that was held in Cairo following the crisis.

Canada and United Arab Emirates agree to enhance cooperation
May 29, 2018 - Ottawa, Ontario - Global Affairs Canada
Canada and the United Arab Emirates (U.A.E.) have a deeply rooted relationship, and today the Honourable Chrystia Freeland, Minister of Foreign Affairs, hosted a successful bilateral meeting with Sheikh Abdullah bin Zayed Al Nahyan, the U.A.E.’s Minister of Foreign Affairs and International Cooperation.
The ministers discussed their desire to build on existing relations to expand trade and investment between Canada and the U.A.E. They also discussed Middle East regional security issues.
In addition, Minister Freeland and Sheikh Abdullah discussed the need to coordinate a global response to the Rohingya crisis. Minister Freeland debriefed Sheikh Abdullah on Canada’s strategy, unveiled on May 23, 2018, to respond to the Rohingya crisis.
The ministers also noted the conclusion of a memorandum of understanding (MOU) to increase cooperation on consular affairs. The MOU will establish a joint committee comprising representatives of the two countries who will meet regularly to discuss consular matters and help to resolve ongoing consular issues and cases.
“I was glad to hold constructive discussions today with His Highness Sheikh Abdullah to find solutions to global and regional crises. Canada and the United Arab Emirates have a strong and long-standing relationship, and I look forward to continuing to build on this important friendship and to cooperating even more closely with the U.A.E. in the near future.’’
- Hon. Chrystia Freeland, P.C., M.P., Minister of Foreign Affairs
Quick facts
During the U.A.E. delegation’s visit to Canada this week, discussions between Canadian officials and the delegation also touched on cooperation in the areas of innovation, education, youth and space.
During this visit, the Government of Canada also announced its intention to lift the visa requirement for U.A.E. citizens on June 5, 2018. This decision is based on a comprehensive and rigorous evaluation of the U.A.E. against Canada’s visa policy criteria, which found that the U.A.E. meets Canada’s criteria for a visa exemption.
In December 2017, Canada and the U.A.E. signed a defence cooperation arrangement to help advance shared interests, including increased personnel training opportunities, defence engagement and the promotion of regional stability.
The U.A.E. is home to an estimated 40,000 Canadians, and 150 Canadian companies have an operational presence there.
The U.A.E. is Canada’s largest export market in the Middle East and North Africa and is Canada’s 16th-largest export market globally.
On May 24, Canada announced its intention to become a member of the International Renewable Energy Agency, which is hosted in Abu Dhabi. The U.A.E. is recognized as a regional leader in efforts to combat climate change.
Associated links
Government of Canada signs defence cooperation arrangement with the U.A.E.
Canada intends to lift visa requirement on the United Arab Emirates
Canada-United Arab Emirates relations
Canada’s strategy to respond to Rohingya crisis
Adam Austen
Press Secretary
Office of the Minister of Foreign Affairs
Media Relations Office
Global Affairs Canada

Latest LCCC Bulletin analysis & editorials from miscellaneous sources published on May 29-30/18
Economic Research and the Public

Noah Smith/Bloomberg View/May 29/18
Representing economic research to the public is a difficult exercise; results can be subtle and come with a lot of qualifications. What’s more, the research tends not to come with guidelines for how to apply the results to real-world public debates — that’s a pundit’s job. Thus, it’s inevitable that pundits will sometimes make mistakes.Tim Bartik, an economist at the Upjohn Institute for Employment Research, recently took journalism professor Ellen Ruppel Shell to task on Twitter for alleged misrepresentations of his research with colleague Brad Hershbein. Shell’s New York Times op-ed entitled “College may not be worth it anymore,” argued that the monetary returns to higher education are much lower for poor families than for middle-class or rich ones.As Bartik points out, he and Hershbein found that the college earnings premium — the lifetime difference in earnings between those who get a bachelor’s degree and those who only finish high school — was substantial for people from all income backgrounds. For people from families below 185 percent of the poverty line, a 71 percent earnings premium translated to a lifetime income boost of $335,000 — hardly something to sneer at, and much more than the cost of most college degrees. And interestingly, for people from families actually below the poverty line, Bartik and Hershbein found a very large premium of 179 percent, although their estimates are less precise.
Also, as Bartik notes, the class difference Shell cites doesn’t exist for black people, or for women. The researchers found that black people from low-income backgrounds who earn college degrees actually earn $408,000 more during the course of their lives than white college graduates from similar class backgrounds. So by downplaying the value of a college degree, Shell and others could be doing a great disservice to disadvantaged minorities.
Of course, the college wage premium doesn’t mean that getting a degree will automatically boost your income by the given amount. Some fraction of that extra income is probably just due to the talent and work ethic needed to graduate. And your major matters too — earnings are substantially higher for STEM, health-care and business majors than for arts and humanities majors. So Bartik and Hershbein’s research doesn’t provide a perfect answer to the question of “Should I go to college?” Still, for most people, it’s probably worth it — as long as you can graduate.
But Shell’s op-ed also touched on an important point that discussions of the college premium sometimes ignore — the college system may be increasing inequality. This can be seen in Bartik and Hershbein’s numbers for the lifetime incomes of graduates from various backgrounds.
For poor people, Bartik and Hershbein found a very large college earnings boost, so at the lower end of the distribution, college probably works to reduce inequality. But in dollar terms, people from the upper classes get the biggest boost of all — more than $1 million in extra lifetime earnings.
To the extent that this premium represents a causal effect, it means that college degrees actually increase the total income gap between the upper class and the middle class. Bartik and Hershbein found that the difference is largely driven by white male college graduates from well-off backgrounds.
This is sadly predictable, since part of the benefit of college comes not from classes and studying but from the people you meet. For poor kids, this can mean learning about better career options from more privileged peers. But for rich kids, it can mean networking with other rich kids, creating and cementing the exclusive social groups that give access to very lucrative job and investment opportunities later in life. This high-powered networking effect is probably strongest for white men, who continue to dominate the upper ranks of the corporate hierarchy and the investor class, and for whom college networks can act as a gateway to that social world. So college is very important for the poor, but it may be even more beneficial for the rich — especially the rich, white and male. Unfortunately, there’s no easy answer to that problem. Abolishing the college system would almost certainly hurt the poor, and rich white men would probably find some other way to form good-old-boy networks. A better solution would be to make college social networks more egalitarian — to somehow ensure that rich white men make lots of friends who are women, minorities, and people from less advantaged backgrounds during their formative years. That’s easier said than done. But colleges should be thinking about how to promote such a mixing of human networks.

Bitcoin's Big Cleanup
Lionel Laurent/Bloomberg /Tuesday, 29 May, 2018
Bitcoin and other cryptocurrencies make up just a tiny slice of the global economy. But that doesn’t mean regulators can ignore the wave of scams, fraud and market manipulation designed to snare gullible punters.
With US law enforcers now probing trading practices such as “spoofing” — illegal and aggressive order cancellations designed to move markets — this looks very much like the beginning of a sustained crypto cleanup. Drawing investors back in, even with the promise of a less Wild West-style market, will take longer than cheerleaders expect. Investigating possible price manipulation in these markets was a natural next step for the authorities, which have ramped up scrutiny of everything from new token sales to crypto-hedge funds in recent months. There’s plenty of data evidence to dig into, and the Commodity Futures Trading Commission and SEC have demanded information from a lot of companies. There are the “pump-and-dump” chat rooms where traders take advantage of thinly traded digital currencies. Elsewhere, exchanges have been accused of being open to spoofing or so-called “wash” trading, where one entity buys and sells the same order. The popular Coinbase exchange faces allegations from clients of insider trading. Of course, it’s natural to question the authorities’ track record of putting spoofers and manipulators behind bars, even those working in traditional financial markets. It’s a fairly recent phenomenon. The practice of spoofing was only made illegal in the US in 2010, and the first conviction was in 2015. In January, the CFTC announced the creation of a new Spoofing Task Force to “root out” the practice. So there’s still no established model for building a successful anti-spoofing case — for example, what a jury would deem to be a suspicious level of order cancellations.
Order-to-trade ratios played a part in determining the first-ever conviction under spoofing laws
But the drive by law enforcers to dig into the crypto world and demand more transparency is here to stay. This can only dent the aura, and price, of Bitcoin. We don’t know the true “worth” of a cryptocurrency — although there are many wacky price targets — but there’s evidence that the price is closely linked to the ecosystem where it is traded. One recent research paper found that a near-tenfold rise in Bitcoin’s price in 2013 was driven primarily by two bots engaging in suspicious activity in a thin market. The market today is very different, with more traders, more coins and more exchanges, but greater transparency is bound to have an impact. Bitcoin fell to its lowest price in more than a month after Bloomberg’s report on the US criminal probe. The bursting of the Bitcoin bubble has led to a prolonged stagnation as regulators dive in What happens next? Crypto-evangelists will no doubt argue that a better-maintained market is a healthy development, and one that will pave the way for the flood of institutional Wall Street money that always seems to be right around the corner. Plenty of market participants have been asking for more transparency. New crypto exchange Legolas, for instance, has criticized the incumbents as being opaque and vulnerable to manipulation. Still, the idea that big risk-averse institutional investors will jump in just as authorities start to trawl the depths of this murky market seems fanciful. Speculation has been Bitcoin’s chief appeal, of course, but the necessary cleanup operation will drag on its price for some time to come.

Turkey and Israel: From Loveless to Fracas
Burak Bekdil/Gatestone Institute/May 29, 2018
How can there ever be a lasting peace between a Zionist state and another nation where the president thinks that Zionism is a crime against humanity?
When Turkey and Israel decided to normalize their badly strained ties in December 2016, after more than six years of downgraded diplomatic relations, the first thing they did, as the protocol dictates, was to appoint ambassadors to each other's capital. With a theoretical new chapter opening in troubled relations, Turkey and Israel appointed two prominent career diplomats, Kemal Ökem and Eitan Na'eh, respectively.
This author's pessimistic guess at the time was: "The diplomats may be willing, but with (Turkish President Recep Tayyip) Erdoğan's persistent Islamist ideological pursuits, they would seem to have only a slim chance of succeeding". In essence, Erdoğan had pragmatically agreed to shake hands with Israel, but his ideological hostility to the Jewish state and his ideological love affair with Hamas had not disappeared.
After less than a year and a half, the Turkish and Israeli embassies in Tel Aviv and Ankara are once again ambassador-less. The loveless date has turned into a tussle.
"A crime against humanity," Turkish prime minister, Binali Yıldırım, shouted after clashes between Israeli security forces and Palestinian protesters caused the deaths of dozens of demonstrators. Erdoğan described the incidents as a "genocide" and Israel as a "terrorist state." "No matter from what side, whether from the United States or Israel, I curse this humanitarian plight, this genocide," he said. Then what would naturally happen happened.
Turkey recalled Ökem "for consultations" and told Na'eh to leave the country "for a while." Na'eh was shown on Turkish television undergoing an airport security check in public view in an apparent plot that aimed to degrade him in the eyes of the public. In return, Israel asked the Turkish Consul General in Jerusalem to temporarily to leave the country.
Pictured: Israel's ambassador to Turkey, Eitan Na'eh, hands his credentials to Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan, December 5, 2016. (Image source: Courtesy Turkish Presidency)
Israel's Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said on Twitter that Erdoğan was in no position to "preach morality to us." Netanyahu tweeted: "There is no doubt he (Erdoğan) well understands terrorism and slaughter." Erdoğan tweeted back that Netanyahu was the leader of "an apartheid state that has occupied a defenseless people's lands for 60+ years in violation of U.N. resolutions." He added: "Want a lesson in humanity? Read the 10 commandments".
A member of the Knesset, Itzik Shmuli (Zionist Union), replied to Erdogan:
"We will not accept lectures from the anti-Semitic Turkish butcher, who blows up daily thousands of Kurds living in northwestern Syria, and whose country is responsible for the massacre of the Armenian nation and the historical atrocities done to the Assyrians".
Anger in the Knesset led to various retaliatory proposals including cancelling joint meetings with senior Turkish officials, calls for Israelis to cancel vacations in Turkey and calls for Israel to recognize the rights of the Kurdish minority in Syria. More importantly, some members of the Knesset proposed passing a bill that recognized the early 20th century killing of hundreds of thousands of Armenians under Ottoman rule as genocide.
In Turkey, Erdoğan summoned an emergency meeting of the 57-member Organization of Islamic Cooperation. His government quickly put together a massive anti-Israeli meeting in Istanbul. There, Erdoğan falsely compared Israel's actions in Gaza to the Nazi persecution of the Jews in the Holocaust during World War II. "There is no difference between the atrocity faced by the Jewish people in Europe 75 years ago and the brutality that our Gaza brothers are subjected to," he said.
Foreign Minister Mevlüt Çavuşoğlu called for Israel to be taken to the International Criminal Court (ICC). Yuval Steinitz, Israel's minister for national infrastructure, energy and water, replied: "If Çavuşoğlu would look at what Turkey is doing to the Kurds both in Turkey and in Syria, he would understand that Turkey is 'ripe' to end up at the ICC long before Israel."
Ironically, a helping hand to Erdoğan in the latest row with Israel came from Jews. Along the sidelines of his state visit to Britain, Erdoğan met in London on May 15 with members of the anti-Zionist Neturei Karta International organization, a group that is against the existence of the state of Israel. "We have to realize and understand that helping the state of Israel is not in the favor of Jewish people," Elahanan Beck, the chief rabbi of Neturei Karta, said. "If you want to help the Jewish people, follow the example of what the Turkish president did: Withdraw your ambassador from there and come out in the clear".
The only Jewish friends Erdoğan could make were the anti-Zionist Jews. The Turkish president has never hidden his anti-Zionist (and pro-Hamas) ideology. Speaking at a United Nations forum in 2013, Erdoğan said Zionism was a crime against humanity "like fascism and Islamophobia".
How could there ever be long-lasting peace between a Zionist state and another nation whose president persistently thinks Zionism is a crime against humanity?
Burak Bekdil, one of Turkey's leading journalists, was recently fired from Turkey's leading newspaper after 29 years, for writing what was taking place in Turkey for Gatestone. He is a Fellow at the Middle East Forum.
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Italy's Pro-EU President Flouts Voters
Soeren Kern/Gatestone Institute/May 29, 2018
The political situation reflects the stranglehold on power wielded by the pro-EU establishment, which is evidently determined to preserve economic austerity at the expense of democracy.
"We need to prepare a plan B to get out of the euro if necessary... the other alternative is to end up like Greece." — Paolo Savona, a former industry minister who has called Italy's entry into the euro a "historic mistake."
"In Italy, there is a problem of democracy. In this country, you can be a convicted criminal, convicted for tax fraud, under investigation for corruption and be a minister... but if you criticize Europe, you cannot be the Minister of the Economy in Italy." — M5S leader Luigi Di Maio.
Italy's new populist government-in-waiting resigned on May 28 after its choice of a eurosceptic finance minister was rejected by the country's pro-EU president — who instead asked an unelected technocrat to form a pro-EU government.
The political wrangling ends a bid by Italy's two anti-establishment parties — the left-leaning Five Star Movement (M5S) and the center-right League (Lega) — to form a populist coalition government, which would have been the first of its kind in Europe.
The political situation reflects the stranglehold on power wielded by the pro-EU establishment, which is evidently determined to preserve economic austerity at the expense of democracy.
Italian president Sergio Mattarella refused to accept the nomination for finance minister of Paolo Savona, an 81-year-old former industry minister who has called Italy's entry into the euro a "historic mistake."
In his latest book, "Like a Nightmare and a Dream" (Come un incubo e come un sogno), Savona called the euro a "German cage" and warned that "we need to prepare a plan B to get out of the euro if necessary... the other alternative is to end up like Greece."
Mattarella, who was installed by a previous pro-EU government, said that the "uncertainty over our position in the euro has alarmed Italian and foreign investors who purchased our government bonds and invested in our companies." He added that "membership of the euro is a fundamental choice for the future of our country and our young people."
Mattarella said that he wanted the next finance minister to be someone "who is not seen as a supporter of a line that could probably, or even inevitably, provoke Italy's exit from the euro."
Mattarella has now asked Carlo Cottarelli, a former official at the International Monetary Fund, to form a government of unelected technocrats. Known as "Mr. Scissors" for making cuts to public spending, Cottarelli presumably would seek to maintain the strict fiscal discipline imposed on the euro currency bloc by Germany.
Italian president Sergio Mattarella has asked Carlo Cottarelli (pictured above), a former official at the International Monetary Fund, to form a government of unelected technocrats. Cottarelli is known as "Mr. Scissors" for making cuts to public spending.
On May 17, the League and M5S, rival populist parties now in a coalition, published a 39-page agreement called "Contract for a Government of Change." A two-page synthesis closely resembles U.S. President Donald J. Trump's "Contract with the American Voter."
In an effort to boost economic growth, the League promised to cut taxes, while M5S pledged to increase public spending.
Italian GDP is forecast to grow by just 1.5% in 2018, the same level as in 2017, making it the worst performer in the 19-nation euro zone.
Italy already holds the world's third-largest public debt, totaling €2.3 trillion ($2.7 trillion). Italy's current debt-to-GDP ratio is 130% of GDP, the highest in the eurozone after that of Greece.
The League and M5S promised to reduce public debt by increasing growth by stimulating domestic demand and by promoting exports rather than "through tax and austerity-based interventions."
The coalition agreement also called for: a flat tax; a simplification of the tax code; increased retirement and maternity benefits; a crackdown on government corruption and crime; swift deportations of illegal migrants; increased defense spending aimed at making Italy a "privileged partner" of the United States; and a revision of the EU treaties involving monetary policy.
M5S leader Luigi Di Maio denounced President Mattarella's pro-EU move and called for the president to be impeached for overstepping his authority:
"In Italy, there is a problem of democracy. In this country, you can be a convicted criminal, convicted for tax fraud, under investigation for corruption and be a minister...but if you criticize Europe, you cannot be the Minister of the Economy in Italy."
Lega leader Matteo Salvini, also criticized Mattarella's decision, but declined to join Di Maio's call for impeachment:
"A government cannot be formed in Italy without the approval of Berlin, Paris or Brussels. It is madness. I would like Italy to return to being a free country."
Cottarelli must now form a government and then have it approved by parliament, where M5S and Lega hold majorities in both houses. Therefore, Cottarelli likely will only head a caretaker government until snap elections are called, which could be held on September 9, according to the newspaper Corriere della Sera.
Italy, the eurozone's third-biggest economy after Germany and France, has been without a government since inconclusive elections on March 4, when the League (which ran within a four-party center-right coalition), won a plurality of seats in the Chamber of Deputies and in the Senate, thereby becoming the main political force.
M5S, however, was the party most voted for and came in second, while the center-left coalition led by former Prime Minister Matteo Renzi came in third. Therefore, no political group or party won an outright majority, which resulted in a hung parliament.
"The majority of Italians (6 out 10) see it with favor," said a survey published by the daily La Repubblica as the two party leaders, the 5Stars' Luigi Di Maio.
Recent polls show that new elections could result in an even bigger majority for the M5S and the Lega. Considering that their prospective coalition government collapsed after Mattarella rejected the eurosceptic Savona, M5S and Lega may frame the next election as a referendum on Italy's role in the EU.
*Soeren Kern is a Senior Fellow at the New York-based Gatestone Institute.
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Israel pushes US to recognize Golan Heights sovereignty
Ben Caspit/The Momitor/May 29/2018
There is cautious optimism in Jerusalem over the chances that the Trump administration will agree to recognize Israeli sovereignty over the Golan Heights. Apart from Minister of Intelligence Yisrael Katz, who insinuates as much in recent interviews, no Israeli source is willing to risk a public guess. Still, several senior political sources have told Al-Monitor that there is a good chance it will happen. One senior Cabinet member said on condition of anonymity, “We have presented this option to the Americans on all levels, including during a conversation between Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and President Donald Trump. This is a one of a kind historic opportunity, which we will not have again.” A senior diplomatic source in Jerusalem confirmed on condition of anonymity, “It’s on the table, both for the Americans and for us. It is Israel’s supreme strategic interest right now, and what is remarkable about it is that the move comes with almost no price attached.”
Another encouraging sign is the change in attitude of Netanyahu over reaching some arrangement or other with Hamas in the Gaza Strip, but that is worth an article of its own. Over the past few weeks, Israel has been considering several options for an arrangement, which would ease the closure and reduce pressure on Hamas, in exchange for a complete stop to the firing of rockets and digging of attack tunnels from Gaza into Israel, and the return of the bodies of Israeli casualties and of civilians being held by Hamas. Netanyahu is aware that the waves of Palestinians charging the fence along its southern front make it difficult for the US administration to continue with its wholehearted and unequivocal support of Israel. In response, Netanyahu’s government is willing to go a long way toward Trump in order to gain continued, comprehensive support along the northern front, which, according to Netanyahu, is Israel’s real front. Of course, this involves the Golan Heights.
The original proponent of the idea is Zvi Hauser, who was Netanyahu’s Cabinet secretary from 2009 to 2013. Hauser first proposed the idea in 2013. “There’s an enormous elephant in the room, and I’m glad that people are starting to pay attention to it now,” Hauser told Al-Monitor May 26. “The Golan Heights make up just 1% of Syria’s territory. They have been controlled by Israel for over 50 years, and Israeli law has been applied to the Golan Heights for 36 years now [since December 1981]. There is no better option for the Golan on the horizon than the Israeli option. The only other alternatives are the Islamic State or Iran, and everyone who should know that does."
Hauser first proposed raising the idea during the final two years of the Barack Obama administration. He articulated it when the security team led by Gen. John Allen worked together with their Israeli counterparts to outline Israel’s security interests, in advance of the formulation of an American “security plan.” Hauser suggested that their work should not stop at al-Hamma — in the southernmost part of the Golan Heights, where the borders of Israel, Syria and Jordan converge — but continue northward, and define the Golan Heights as a first-rank Israeli strategic interest. It did not happen. Later, after world powers inked the nuclear agreement with Iran, some people suggested to Netanyahu that he put a stop to his personal campaign against the agreement and reach a “deal” with the Americans instead. One of the components of such a deal would be American recognition of Israel’s annexation of the Golan Heights.
“It would be logical and necessary,” Hauser noted. “After all, there was no debate that the nuclear agreement did not provide a response to conventional Iranian aggression, and for Israel, this aggression focuses mainly on the Golan Heights.”
The problem was that Netanyahu refused to give up his campaign against the agreement even after it was signed, and the opportunity passed.
Now Israel is seemingly facing a golden opportunity, which is unlikely to repeat itself again. “President Trump has been overturning agreements without as much as beating an eyelash,” a senior diplomatic source in Jerusalem told Al-Monitor on condition of anonymity. “He canceled the nuclear agreement, even though Iran has been meticulous in fulfilling its part of the agreement, which is unprecedented. That's why it will be feasible to foresee Trump partnering with us on the Golan issue.”
Katz is the locomotive who is pushing this effort full-steam ahead, especially among the public. Katz dropped a bombshell May 23 when he announced in an interview with Reuters that there is a good chance that the Americans will recognize the Golan Heights as Israeli territory, and that this would be a powerful response to Iran and its efforts to establish a front against Israel in Syria. According to Katz, such a move would “punish” Iranian aggression and send a clear message to Syrian President Bashar al-Assad, who has been allowing Iran to turn his country into a base for operations against Israel. All of this would bolster Israel’s ability to defend itself.
Another senior Israeli Cabinet member, who asked to remain anonymous, told Al-Monitor, “President Trump understands the importance of strategic depth. As far as Israel is concerned the Golan Heights are vital strategic depth. In the last clash with Iranian forces over the Golan Heights, they fired 32 rockets into Israel, but only four of them actually landed in Israeli territory [they were shot down by the anti-missile defense system Iron Dome]. Most of the others landed in Syrian territory. Imagine what would have happened if these rockets had been fired from the Golan Heights near the Sea of Galilee, at Israeli towns and villages in the Galilee.”
Another reason Israel hopes to gain American recognition is based on the fact that Israel’s control of the Golan Heights does not involve occupation of another people, as is happening in the West Bank or as happened in Gaza with millions of Palestinians. Although the House of Representatives shelved a proposal May 26 by Rep. Ron DeSantis, R-Fla. — that the United States recognize Israeli sovereignty over the Golan Heights — Israel believes that the current situation in Syria and the combination of current circumstances are to their advantage.
“Over 700,000 civilians have been killed in Syria in the past few years,” another senior diplomatic source in Jerusalem told Al-Monitor on condition of anonymity. “There are 14 million refugees. The country will not recover for at least three generations, and even if Assad does manage to restore stability to his regime, genuine reconciliation is impossible there. The only viable option for the Golan Heights is Israeli sovereignty. Apart from the Shiite axis, no one in the Middle East would shed a tear if the United States recognizes a situation that has existed de facto for the last half century now.”