Militant outpost found


News & Views

Staff & Wire Reports



Israel says it finds Hezbollah outpost on Lebanon border

By ISABEL DEBRE

Associated Press

Monday, October 22

JERUSALEM (AP) — The Israeli military on Monday said it uncovered a militant outpost on the Lebanese border that Hezbollah guerrillas have set up under the guise of an environmental advocacy group.

A senior officer from the military’s Northern Command told reporters that the new observation post in the village of Al-Adisa violates the United Nations resolution that ended the 2006 Israel-Hezbollah war and bars militant activity in southern Lebanon. He said Hezbollah is using a tree-planting campaign by the “Green Without Borders” association as a cover for its activity along the border to gather intelligence on Israeli troops.

The Lebanese non-governmental organization has acknowledged its affiliation with the militant group but claims its purpose on the border is purely environmental.

The Israeli officer, speaking on condition of anonymity under military guidelines, said the army discovered five other Hezbollah posts in 2017, in breach of the U.N. agreement.

“We haven’t seen any Hezbollah arms yet, but we can see military infrastructure and it’s clear this is part of extensive activity in south Lebanon and in Lebanon in general that is a threat to the IDF and to Israel,” the officer said, referring to the Israeli Defense Forces. “This is of course a buildup that we cannot tolerate.”

The Israeli military on Monday released photos of what it said were the Hezbollah observation posts. One photo showed a uniformed man peering through a window with high-tech binoculars.

Andrea Tenenti, a spokesman for the U.N. peacekeeping force in southern Lebanon, said UNIFIL has “not observed any unauthorized armed persons” at the position and “continues to monitor activities closely,” including those of the environmental group.

The Israeli-Lebanon border, though tense, has been mostly quiet in recent years under U.N. supervision.

Israel and Hezbollah fought a devastating monthlong war in 2006, which ended in a stalemate.

Since then, Hezbollah has amassed an arsenal that is believed to include well over 100,000 missiles and rockets aimed at Israel.

Brexit Equals Severe Storms in English Channel, Irish Sea

By Llewellyn King

InsideSources.com

Blimey! That is what you might say in London vernacular about the mess that Britain is dealing with as it struggles to leave the European Union by March 29, 2019.

With the deadline in clear line of sight, there is no exit plan and Britain is becoming — depending on whom in the Great British Divide you ask — either critically alarmed or hysterically impatient.

British industry and the whole import-export infrastructure are in panic. Supply lines need to be adjusted and possibly new ones established. Manufacturers are wondering whether it will be possible to continue as Britain-based or whether they should up and move to Europe. The British motor industry, which is not owned in the United Kingdom any longer, is a case in point. Jaguar and Land Rover may be iconic marques, but they are Indian-owned, and will they always be made in Coventry, England? Can London remain the financial center of Europe when Paris, Dublin and Frankfurt are scrambling for the title?

On the impatient side, Brexiteers are screaming for an end to the European linkage no matter what.

In the middle, and in a muddle, is Prime Minister Theresa May, distrusted by the extreme Brexit supporters and considered incompetent by the “Remainers,” who still hope that there will be a miraculous reprieve from the referendum vote of June 29, 2016.

Collectively, the British media is not helpful. Most of the press (especially but not exclusively those newspapers controlled by Rupert Murdoch) is for leaving, often vociferously so. When it appeared, in the latest development, that more time may be granted for Britain to find solutions to the thorniest issues like the Irish border question, they howled in unison for faster action.

The newspapers, representing almost the entire readership of daily newspapers in Britain, have fought for Brexit and fight against reconsideration: The Daily Mail, The Daily Telegraph, The Times and The Sun are adamantly and relentlessly for Britain getting out, mostly with little regard to the consequences.

You cannot consider these newspapers without understanding that they have played the same role as Fox News in the United States in inflaming nationalism and worries about sovereignty — a word that has been taken out of history’s locker for the purpose of stirring up antagonism to Europe.

The newspapers I have cited have been aggressively antagonistic to Europe for decades and were, it could be argued, decisive in the “advisory” referendum in which the British public voted to leave Europe by 51.9 percent to 48.1 percent. The die was cast for the most extraordinary change of direction ever voted by a democracy.

The Brexiteers had the advantage of passion, a well-oiled disinformation campaign and the wild-card endorsement of Boris Johnson, the clownish but clever politician who wants to be prime minister beyond all else. David Cameron’s government, which called the referendum, misjudged the electorate through over-reliance on the polls.

Hopes that Parliament will finally assert itself, take charge of Brexit and call another referendum or nullify the first on the grounds that it was not constitutionally binding, are fading. There is wide acceptance in Britain that the nation is set to sail into waters uncharted — stormy but somehow having the lure of the nation’s explorer past.

Economists are not so sure, and business is looking at decampment to the European mainland.

The Brexiteers see a glowing new era for Britain, which shed its empire with little pain at home, and they may feel this will happen again. British creativity has always been one of its great strengths; for example, creativity in technology that contributed to the success of the empire, including John Harrison’s chronometer and James Watts’s steam engine.

The British will continue to create, to be sure. But how will they sell their creations if they have exempted themselves from their largest market?

The United States, if we do not choke off all immigration, can look forward to a surge of British talent coming across the Atlantic.

ABOUT THE WRITER

Llewellyn King is executive producer and host of “White House Chronicle” on PBS. His email is llewellynking1@gmail.com. He wrote this for InsideSources.com.

The Conversation

No-deal Brexit: survey reveals 44% of people expect the UK to crash out of EU

October 17, 2018

Authors: Bobby Duffy, Visiting Senior Research Fellow; Anand Menon, Professor of European Politics and Foreign Affairs, both King’s College London

Disclosure statement: Anand Menon receives funding from the ESRC. Bobby Duffy does not work for, consult, own shares in or receive funding from any company or organization that would benefit from this article, and has disclosed no relevant affiliations beyond their academic appointment.

Partners: King’s College London provides funding as a member of The Conversation UK.

As the Brexit negotiations grind on, and with a withdrawal agreement still seeming elusive, the British people are becoming more pessimistic about what Brexit might mean. A major new survey by the Policy Institute at King’s College London and Ipsos MORI reveals that nearly half (44%) expect the UK to leave the EU in March 2019 without a deal in place. Only three in ten expect a deal to be worked out.

If we break the population down by party support and preference on Brexit, other fascinating distinctions become apparent. The majority of Remain-backing Labour voters think the UK is heading for a no-deal Brexit, while the majority of Conservative-Leave supporters think the country will leave with a deal.

Strikingly, whatever the outcome of the negotiations, few see much personal economic benefit flowing from Brexit. Only 14% of the public expect that leaving the EU will result in an increase in their own standard of living in the next five years, with twice as many expecting their standard of living to decrease. The public have become more pessimistic since we last asked this question in May 2016, just before the referendum.

This personal economic pessimism reflects a broader sense of a negative impact on the UK economy, at least over the next five years. Only two in ten people expect the UK growth rate to increase as a result of Brexit over that period, with four in ten expecting it to decrease.

But this overall picture is again a balance of very different views between Leave and Remain supporters: 64% of Remain supporters expect Brexit to decrease growth rates, compared with only 17% of Leave supporters.

The bus has finally departed

The NHS was at the heart of the Leave campaign, with explicit messages about how leaving the EU will lead to more funding and reduced pressure. These claims resonated with the public – it is not too much of a stretch to say that the famous red bus promising an extra £300m a week for the NHS conveyed, at least in part, a pro-NHS and anti-austerity message.

Yet there is far less faith now that Brexit will have a positive impact on the NHS. A third expect the quality of health services to decrease as a result of Brexit, a third think the quality will stay the same, and a quarter that it will increase. But, crucially, the belief that Brexit will hurt the NHS has doubled since 2016, when only 17% thought leaving the EU would lead to a decline in the quality of health services.

Again, one’s views of Brexit tend to colour one’s expectations about its impact: six in ten Labour Remain supporters expect a decrease in NHS quality as a result of Brexit, compared with only 16% of Leave supporters.

The big unknown

The reality, of course, is that no one knows what the impact of Brexit will be, not least because no one knows what sort of Brexit the UK will end up with. In that context, it’s no surprise that unease is growing and that the country is so divided, as deadlines loom, talks seem to have stalled and the future is so unclear. But the degree to which beliefs about the future are structured by pre-existing beliefs about Brexit itself is striking (and perhaps understandable given that we don’t know where this process will end up).

And what remains remarkable, and will be the key issue over the weeks to come, is whether this widespread Brexit pessimism – about both the outcome and its impacts – will have any effect on the overall support for Brexit. To date, this has remained remarkably stable, albeit with a slight shift towards remain in recent months.

These attitudes, however, matter. If parliament becomes deadlocked over whatever Brexit deal it is asked to vote on, it is these public attitudes that might determine how Brexit is ultimately settled.

The Conversation

Taxes and caps on carbon work differently but calibrating them poses the same challenge

October 19, 2018

Author: Amitrajeet A. Batabyal, Arthur J. Gosnell Professor of Economics, Rochester Institute of Technology

Disclosure statement: Amitrajeet A. Batabyal has received research funding from the United States Department of Agriculture, the Giannini Foundation for Agricultural Economics and the Charles Koch Foundation.

Partners: Rochester Institute of Technology provides funding as a member of The Conversation US.

Virtually everything most people on earth do these days involves, either directly or indirectly, the combustion of oil, gas and coal. Burning these fossil fuels is generating carbon emissions, which accumulate in the atmosphere, contributing to global warming.

Since climate change could become catastrophic, economists argue that fossil fuel producers and companies that emit massive amounts of carbon should have to pay a fee or a tax. Economists also say that the people harmed by these emissions – basically, everyone – should be compensated for this harm.

My research on environmental regulation and the design of international environmental agreements looks at the two main ways to address this underlying problem: carbon taxes and cap-and-trade systems. As William Nordhaus, one of the two 2018 Nobel laureates in economics, has explained, the main idea behind both of these approaches to putting a price on carbon is to give people and companies an incentive to alter their behavior in ways that reduce greenhouse gas emissions and slow the pace of climate change.

Carbon taxes

A carbon tax makes fossil fuels more expensive, in turn encouraging utilities, businesses and consumers to use less of them. At the same time, it makes alternatives, such as wind and solar power more competitive – encouraging their use. When designed and implemented properly, carbon taxes raise the price of carbon-intensive goods and lower the prices of non-carbon-intensive goods.

Finland was the first country to establish a carbon tax in 1990. As of October 2018, about 25 governments – including national, state, provincial and local jurisdictions – were levying them, according to the World Bank.

The revenue carbon taxes generate are either distributed as dividends to the public or spent on a government priority, sometimes tied to climate change. An example of this would be supporting renewable energy innovation.

Cap-and-trade systems

With cap-and-trade systems, governments establish quotas that limit how much carbon dioxide and other greenhouse gases can be emitted over the course of a year or another time period. The authorities also issue permits or allowances that authorize the emissions, which can be bought and sold.

These permits are scarce by design. That creates demand for them and the opportunity to set up exchanges where buyers and sellers can agree on the price of the permits and then trade them.

The European Union, several Canadian provinces and U.S. states are some of the best examples of governments using these systems. Established in 2005, the European Union’s Emissions Trading System operates in 31 countries.

The same challenge

The track records to date of both carbon taxes and cap-and-trade systems indicate that they are curbing carbon emissions and encouraging investment in renewable energy, energy efficiency and other technologies that can shrink carbon footprints.

But three things remain unclear: by what amount are they reducing emissions, whether they are operating more efficiently than other options and who is gaining and losing the most from carbon pricing programs.

All told, carbon taxation and trading raised US$33 billion in 2017 across 45 countries and another 25 states, provinces and other jurisdictions around the world, according to the World Bank’s latest carbon pricing overview.

Both kinds of systems are easier to discuss in theory than to put into practice because of all the uncertainties associated with climate change.

That is, governments that levy carbon taxes and set caps on greenhouse gas emissions must move forward without knowing what might be the precise level at which taxes and quotas will spur the requisite changes in energy consumption and business practices.

Comments

Robert J Kolker is a Friend of The Conversation: Caps on Carbon will be the way Mega Corporations keep their smaller and younger competitors out of the market place. As sure as sunrise, the manipulation and sale of “carbon rights” will make the rich even richer and the rest of us somewhat poorer.

Brad Elliott In reply to Robert J Kolker: Quite right. It is difficult enough to regulate within one country without trying to police it around the world.

Ohio Man Sentenced to Prison for Rape of Child

Ohio Attorney General Mike DeWine

October 23, 2018

(POMEROY, Ohio)— Ohio Attorney General Mike DeWine announced today that a Meigs County man will serve more than a decade in prison for sexually assaulting a child under the age of ten.

Brice Hupp, 19, of Long Bottom, pleaded guilty to two counts of rape in Meigs County Common Pleas Court this week, following an investigation and prosecution conducted as part of Attorney General DeWine’s Crimes Against Children Initiative.

Judge I. Carson Crow sentenced Hupp to 14 years in prison and designated him as a Tier III sex offender.

“This defendant belongs in prison, and I’m proud that the work of my team resulted in a lengthy sentence,” said Attorney General DeWine. “Since launching our Crimes Against Children Initiative in 2011, we have been working every day to protect kids and hold predators accountable in Ohio.”

Hupp was arrested in December 2017 after authorities found that he had been sexually assaulting the child for a period of several months.

The case was investigated by special agents with the Ohio Attorney General’s Bureau of Criminal Investigation and prosecuted by attorneys with Attorney General DeWine’s Special Prosecutions Section.

Ohio Sex Offender Sentenced to Prison on Child Pornography Charges

Ohio Attorney General Mike DeWine

October 17, 2018

(WAPAKONETA, Ohio)— Ohio Attorney General Mike DeWine announced today that a previously convicted sex offender is returning to prison after he pleaded guilty to possessing thousands of child pornography images and videos.

Aron D. Lichtenberger, 40, of Elida, pleaded guilty to one count of pandering obscenity involving a minor, three counts of pandering sexually oriented material involving a minor, one count of illegal use of a minor in nudity oriented material, and one count of possession of criminal tools.

Auglaize County Common Pleas Court Judge Frederick Pepple sentenced the defendant to 17 years in prison.

An investigation conducted by the Federal Bureau of Investigation found that Lichtenberger, who had previously been classified as a Tier II sex offender for sexually abusing a child in 2002, downloaded more than 5,000 sexually explicit images and videos involving young children.

“The amount of child pornography found on this man’s computer is sickening,” said Attorney General DeWine. “I commend the prosecutors and investigators who worked so hard to send this man back to prison for exploiting defenseless kids.”

The case was prosecuted by attorneys with the Attorney General’s Special Prosecutions Section working as part of Attorney General DeWine’s Crimes Against Children Initiative.

Attorney General DeWine Seeks Consumer Restitution from Two Dayton-Area Home Improvement Contractors

(DAYTON, Ohio)—Ohio Attorney General Mike DeWine today announced consumer protection lawsuits against two different home improvement contractors accused of failing to provide promised services to southwest Ohio consumers.

In one case, Cory Devor, doing business as ABC Construction, is accused of taking money for home repair, remodeling, or landscaping work that he either never provided or did in a shoddy manner. Five consumers have filed complaints against the company reporting total losses of over $31,000.

A second lawsuit accuses the owner of TJ Home Improvements, Jessica A. Creech, of violating Ohio consumer protection laws by failing to deliver promised home improvement services or providing shoddy, incomplete work after accepting payment from consumers. Reported losses total about $3,500 among four complaints filed against the company.

Both lawsuits were filed in the Montgomery County Court of Common Pleas. In both cases, the Attorney General seeks reimbursement for consumers and an end to any violations of the state’s consumer protection laws.

“There are many home improvement contractors who do great work. Unfortunately, in these cases, we found that consumers paid for work they never received,” Attorney General DeWine said.

Attorney General DeWine encouraged consumers to research home improvement contractors carefully before making payments. Tips to avoid problems include:

  • Check for complaints filed by other consumers, determine whether the business is properly registered with the Ohio Secretary of State, conduct internet searches, check court websites for legal action, and talk to past customers to learn about their experiences with a contractor.
  • Get multiple estimates. For a large job, consider getting estimates from several different companies.
  • Be wary of requests for large down payments. It’s reasonable for a contractor to require a down payment, but be skeptical if you’re asked to make a large down payment (such as half or more of the total cost) before any work begins. If possible, pay in increments as the work is completed.

Consumers who suspect an unfair or deceptive sales practice should contact the Ohio Attorney General’s Office at www.OhioProtects.org or 800-282-0515.

O’Connor dementia announcement underscores importance of a coordinated state response, caregiver support

By Beverley Laubert, Director, Ohio Department of Aging

Earlier this week, Sandra Day O’Connor, the first woman to serve on the Supreme Court of the United States, made the courageous public announcement that she has been living with dementia. In a statement, O’Connor said, “While the final chapter of my life with dementia may be trying, nothing has diminished my gratitude and deep appreciation for the countless blessings in my life.” Ohio and the nation certainly benefitted from her more than two decades in the nation’s most important courtroom, and our thoughts and prayers are with her and her family during this difficult time, as is our appreciation for her long and accomplished career.

There are many types of dementia; Alzheimer’s disease, which O’Connor likely has, is perhaps the best-known condition that causes dementia, affecting more than 220,000 Ohioans. The total number of people living with all types of dementia is unknown, as diagnosis can be difficult. Leading health organizations around the world are working to find a cure for Alzheimer’s and other dementias. As important as finding a cure is, O’Connor’s announcement reminds us that we must not ignore that there are hundreds of thousands of Ohioans who are focused on the day-to-day challenges of living with or caring for someone with dementia. Caregivers in the workforce and in the home are often underprepared for the daily challenges they will face.

News & Views

Staff & Wire Reports