The media has obsessively counted every dead body in the conflict between Hamas and Israel. They rarely explain why so many more Palestinians than Israelis have been killed: Hamas does not allow Palestinian civilians into their shelters, while using civilian areas from which to fire their rockets; Israel, on the other hand, devotes its resources to building shelters and Iron Dome protection. Put another way, while Israel uses shelters and Iron Dome to protect its civilians, Hamas uses its civilians to protect its rockets and its terrorists. A widely circulated cartoon makes this point effectively:
Good morning. “Grow for it” cheers the Sun. “UK has fastest-growing economy” is our splash. “Britain’s recovery outstrips the world” is the Times’ front page. “Grow for it”, cheers page 2 of the Sun. “Boost for Osborne as IMF uprates growth”, says the Guardian.
The IMF has raised its growth forecasts for the second time this year; the UK is now forecast to by 3.2% in 2014 and 2.7% in 2015. It’s a good day for George Osborne, says the Mail’s leader: now, how about some tax cuts?
Put the champagne down, says Ed Balls in the Guardian: it’s two years behind George Osborne’s original plan and GDP per head is still below pre-crisis levels, it’s a “lost decade for living standards”, says Mr Balls. There are further caveats, too: we don’t yet know what the global effects of the prolonged period of low interest rates, or what will happen to the recovery once the flow of cheap money begins to be cut off; in the Statesman, Gavin Kelly at the Resolution Foundation outlines the squeeze on households that an uptick in bank rate could cause. And that’s before we consider the possible effects of a trade war with Russia, who, Matt Holehouse reports, are threatening to hit British companies in retaliation for European sanctions.
Assuming for a moment that those various potholes can be avoided, what matters is whether or not that growth is felt around the country, and if it creates the fiscal headroom for tax cuts to the basic rate and a rise in the threshold for the 40p rate. But today’s good news will contribute to the positive feeling within the Tory party that the wind is at their backs and that their chances of defeating Ed Miliband are better than ever.
ED MILIBAND’S SUMMER OFFENSIVE
Speaking of Ed Miliband; the Labour leader kicks off his party’s summer campaign today with a speech at the Royal Institute of British Architects. The theme is “the Choice”; between a Tory government creating a Hobbesian nightmare and a Labour party putting a huggable puppy on every street corner (I paraphrase). As Allegra Stratton explains, it’s partly about Team Ed getting the Shadow Cabinet to “sing for their summer holidays”, particularly those middle-ranking Opposition frontbenchers who went AWOL during Ed’s difficult summer last year. Getting the whole Shadow Cabinet to pitch in will also get the party’s internal machinery working in the run-up to conference and the battles to come thereafter.
DON’T GO RUSSIAN TO JUDGEMENT, BORIS WARNS
Boris Johnson has defended Dave’s decision to play a tennis match with Lubov Chernukhin and her husband. (He took a swipe at the PM’s tennis abilities, though. Asked whether he’d be playing alongside or against the PM, he replied: “We’ll have to see about that – possibly both at the same time.”) Boris also reminded LBC listeners that London is now home to any number of Russian emigres who have now fallen out with the Kremlin, and that simply targeting anyone who has come from that country to this is unlikely to upset Vladimir Putin very much. Regardless, the Mail is going full pelt on this one – “Meet Dave’s other chums who made billions under Putin and are bankrolling the Tories” is the story.
NO SMOKE WITHOUT IRE
“Don’t Mess With The Arrows” roars the Mail’s front page. Michael Fallon, newly installed at the MoD, had to personally intervene to prevent an “outrageous” attempt to get the Red Arrows to trail the colours of the Scottish flag rather than the traditional red white and blue, James Chapman and Louise Eccles reveal. Sources close to Alex Salmond insist that he was unaware of the request that the planes trail the colours of the Saltire, while a spokesman for the Scottish government has described the claims as “completely untrue”. Meanwhile, in today’s Scotsman, John McTernan calls for a new champion for Scottish Labour’s battle to save the Union: a little-known politician called Gordon Brown.
ANTHEM FOR DOOMED YOUTH CONTRACT
The Coalition’s flagship programme to tackle youth unemployment is to be quietly ditched amid claims that it has been a failure, Jim Pickard reports in the FT. The £1 billion scheme was a personal project of Nick Clegg but just under 5,000 recruits completed placements in the scheme’s first year against a target of 160,000 for the entire programme.
SORRY NOT SORRY
Nick Clegg is under growing pressure to suspend David Ward, who said he would be prepared to fire a Hamas rocket at Israeli civilians, Matt Holehouse reports. In a rare intervention, the Israeli ambassador, Daniel Taub, wrote to Nick Clegg to express his “shock and disgust” at the remarks.
The House of Lords will shortly give a second reading to Lord Falconer of Thoroton’s assisted dying bill, which would allow doctors to help terminally ill patients to commit suicide if their life-expectancy is less than six months.
Attempts over the years to legalise “mercy killings” have all failed. Now opposition is softening, in part because of the way campaigners have manipulated the language in order to reframe the debate.
In a stroke of propaganda genius, the Voluntary Euthanasia Society renamed itself Dignity in Dying. Instantly, killing was transformed into dying. Killing is bad, but dying is inevitable. And people are frightened of dying in pain or distress.
It’s the moral equivalence which is so devastating. When Egypt this week proposed its ceasefire in Gaza, a BBC presenter asked whether both sides would now conclude there was no point carrying on with the war. From the start, restraint has been urged on both sides — as if more than 1100 rocket attacks on Israel in three weeks had the same weight as trying to stop this onslaught once and for all.
Israel has been bombing Gaza solely to stop Hamas and its associates from trying to kill Israeli citizens. But for many in the west, the driving necessity is not to stop Hamas but to stop Israel.
Moral equivalence morphs instantly into moral bankruptcy. People have looked at the casualty count — around 200 Palestinians killed at time of writing while only a handful of Israelis have been injured or killed — and decided that this proves Israel is a monstrous aggressor.
Israeli leaders have told Britain it should support its continuing war in Gaza because Hamass rocket attacks are like the Blitz.
Benjamin Netanyahu, the Israeli prime minister, and Avigdor Lieberman, the foreign minister, were speaking as they met the new Foreign Secretary, Philip Hammond, who is on a whirlwind tour of the Middle East.
“I think you, as a representative of the UK, of Britain, have a special understanding, at least a historical understanding, of what Israel is undergoing,” Mr Netanyahu said.
“Theres only been one other instance where a democracy has been rocketed and pelleted with these projectiles of death, and thats Britain during World War Two. Israel is undergoing a similar bombardment now.”
Hamass decision to fire rockets in the direction of Ben Gurion Airport may well have ended any real prospect of a two-state solution. Whether the regulators and airlines that have stopped flights to and from Israel are right or wrong, this stoppage cannot possibly be tolerated by a democratic country that relies so heavily on tourism and international travel. It is of course a war crime to target an international civilian airport, as Hamas has clearly done. Israel has every right to keep that airport open, employing all reasonable military means at its disposal. Since Hamas fires its rockets from densely populated civilian areas, there will be more Palestinian civilian deaths.
Cheering wildly and spraying bottles of prosecco over each other, jubilant salvage workers celebrated on the harbour front of Giglio as the Costa Concordia was finally towed away from the island, two-and-a-half years after it capsized with the loss of 32 lives.
Sporting heavy stubble and wearing battered helmets, divers from half a dozen countries congratulated each other on the success of one of the greatest wreck removal projects in maritime history, as the great white cruise ship was hauled away from the island’s granite shores by two powerful tug boats.
Here’s some reasons why we don’t allow cell phones in operating areas, propylene oxide handling and storage area, propane, gas and diesel refueling areas.
The Shell Oil Company recently issued a warning after three incidents in which mobile phones (cell phones) ignited fumes during fueling operations.
In the first case, the phone was placed on the car’s trunk lid during fueling; it rang and the ensuing fire destroyed the car and the gasoline pump.
In the second, an individual suffered severe burns to their face when fumes ignited as they answered a call while refueling their car!
And in the third, an individual suffered burns to the thigh and groin as fumes ignited when the phone, which was in their pocket, rang while they were fueling their car. Mobile phones that light up when switched on or when they ring release enough energy to provide a spark for ignition
Mobile phones should not be used in filling stations, or when fueling lawn mowers, boat, etc.
Mobile phones should not be used, or should be turned off, around other materials that generate flammable or explosive fumes or dust, (I.e., solvents, chemicals, gases, grain dust, etc…)
TO sum it up, here are the Four Rules for Safe Refueling:
1) Turn off engine
2) Don’t smoke
3) Don’t use your cell phone – leave it inside the vehicle or turn it off
4) Don’t re-enter your vehicle during fueling.
Bob Renkes of Petroleum Equipment Institute is working on a campaign to try and make people aware of fires as a result of ‘static electricity’ at gas pumps. His company has researched 150 cases of these fires. His results were very surprising:
1) Out of 150 cases, almost all of them were women.
2) Almost all cases involved the person getting back in their vehicle while the nozzle was still pumping gas. When finished, they went back to pull the nozzle out and the fire started, as a result of static.
3) Most had on rubber-soled shoes.
4) Most men never get back in their vehicle until completely finished. This is why they are seldom involved in these types of fires.
5) Don’t ever use cell phones when pumping gas
6) It is the vapors that come out of the gas that cause the fire, when connected with static charges.
7) There were 29 fires where the vehicle was re-entered and the nozzle was touched during refueling from a variety of makes and models. Some resulted in extensive damage to the vehicle, to the station, and to the customer.
8) Seventeen fires occurred before, during or immediately after the gas cap was removed and before fueling began.
Mr. Renkes stresses to NEVER get back into your vehicle while filling it with gas. If you absolutely HAVE to get in your vehicle while the gas is pumping, make sure you get out, close the door TOUCHING THE METAL, before you ever pull the nozzle out. This way the static from your body will be discharged before you ever remove the nozzle. As I mentioned earlier, The Petroleum Equipment Institute, along with several other companies now, are really trying to make the public aware of this danger.
I ask you to please send this information to ALL your family and friends, especially those who have kids in the car with them while pumping gas. If this were to happen to them, they may not be able to get the children out in time.
Thanks for passing this along.
Proportionality in international law is not about equality of death or civilian suffering, or even about [equality of] firepower. Proportionality weighs the necessity of a military action against suffering that the action might cause to enemy civilians in the vicinity.
“Under international humanitarian law and the Rome Statute, the death of civilians during an armed conflict, no matter how grave and regrettable does not constitute a war crime…. even when it is known that some civilian deaths or injuries will occur. A crime occurs if there is an intentional attack directed against civilians principle of distinction or an attack is launched on a military objective in the knowledge that the incidental civilian injuries would be clearly excessive in relation to the anticipated military advantage principle of proportionality.” — Luis Moreno-Ocampo, Chief Prosecutor, International Criminal Court.
“The greater the military advantage anticipated, the larger the amount of collateral damage — often civilian casualties — which will be “justified” and “necessary.” — Dr. Françoise Hampton, University of Essex, UK.
Tunisian authorities say all mosques and media calling for jihad are to be immediately closed in a bid to end a radical movement they fear will derail the nation’s move to democracy. A statement early Sunday announced the closing of mosques operating outside control of the Religious Affairs Ministry and places of worship that celebrated the killings last week of 15 Tunisian soldiers near the Algerian border. The government also announced the closing of unlicensed TV and radio stations that call for jihad and declare some people infidels.