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Dominican investigative journalist targeted with NSO Pegasus spyware, report says



nuria piera

Amnesty International has revealed that a prominent female journalist in the Dominican Republic has been targeted by NSO Group’s Pegasus spyware. Nuria Piera’s mobile device was infected with Pegasus, which provides complete and unrestricted access to a device, three times between 2020 and 2021, according to Amnesty International’s Security Lab analysis. Piera, who has focused on issues of corruption and impunity in the country throughout her career, was conducting high-profile investigations around the time her device was infected. The Dominican Republic is the third country in the Americas, after Mexico and El Salvador, where Amnesty International has confirmed the use of Pegasus to target journalists and human rights defenders.

Amnesty International’s investigation found evidence that Piera’s device was first compromised with Pegasus in or around July 2020. She was also notified of the spyware’s presence in September and October 2021. Piera stated that she had never received a judicial order or formal notification from the Dominican authorities that she was under surveillance. The revelation means that there are now at least 18 countries where it has been confirmed that journalists were targeted with spyware, although the actual scale of the abuse of surveillance technology is likely to be much higher. Amnesty International is calling on states to adopt a global moratorium on spyware.

The lack of transparency around the use of surveillance and spyware makes it challenging for victims to obtain information or seek accountability. Amnesty International spoke to dozens of journalists and human rights defenders in the Dominican Republic who suspected they had been targeted for surveillance because of their work. Most thought that intelligence officers were targeting them using traditional forms of surveillance, such as wiretapping. In the Dominican Republic, there are no clear avenues for adequate remedies in the event of unlawful targeted surveillance. The constitutional avenue for data and privacy protection, Habeas data, and the criminal remedy available under Law 53-07 on Crimes of High Technology (Ley 53-07 sobre Crímenes y Delitos de Alta Tecnología), can only be used when the identity of the surveilling party is known, which is not always possible without the necessary technical skills.

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Everybody Wants Gaza’s Gas



gaza gas

While its citizens take to the streets demanding a ceasefire, the silence of Europe’s leaders is deafening. Ally-ship runs deep, apparently, although their weak calls for “humanitarian pauses” are ignored by the Israeli state which has rained down more bombs on Gaza in the past weeks than in the years combined. Over 10,000 are dead, unable to escape the onslaught as hospitals and refugee camps are targeted. Amnesty International estimates more children have been killed in Gaza than in the past year in every other conflict zone.

Still, Biden and his European pets champion Israel’s right to defend itself, suggesting the Palestinian Health Authority is inflating the numbers of their dead. The UN can only squawk while international law is revealed, yet again, to be upheld only when enemies break it, as Israel cuts off water, food, electricity and the internet to 2 million people trapped in the world’s biggest open-air prison, pretending like collective punishment for the crimes of Hamas on October 7.

But while bombs rain down, business continues as usual, with Israel granting 12 licenses to six companies to explore for natural gas off the country’s Mediterranean coast on October 30th. This is the latest venture to exploit one of several gas fields discovered on the Mediterranean coast over recent decades, aiming to solve Israel’s energy dependency and, crucially, Europe’s supplies.

The total oil and gas reserves were valued at a staggering $524 billion in 2019. But Israel does not have sole legal entitlement to the $524 billion, according to a UN report published in the same year. Not only is some of the $524 billion sourced from within the Occupied Territory of Palestine, much of the rest sits outside national borders in the deep sea, and thus should be shared with all relevant parties. The report questions the national right to these resources given they took millions of years to form—and that Palestinians occupied the whole territory until Israel’s recent formal creation.

The authors also note it is another war crime for the occupying power to deny the citizens the right to use their own natural resources, including diverting Palestine’s water supply, cutting off access to their fisheries, grabbing agricultural land and destroying olive groves. The financial costs are massive. “To date, the real and opportunity costs of the occupation exclusively in the area of oil and natural gas have accumulated to tens, if not hundreds, of billions of dollars.”

Why share when you can export?

The USA’s and EU’s allyship with Israel has been steadfast since the state’s creation in 1948, with agreements strengthening ties ever since. In June 2022, under pressure to find another source of gas since Russia’s invasion of Ukraine, the EU signed a Memorandum of Understanding with a different colonising force to import gas from the Leviathan gas field. This gas field, the biggest of recent discoveries, holds 22 trillion cubic feet in recoverable natural gas and could meet Israel’s domestic demands for 40 years.

The USA went one further, creating a USA-Israel energy cooperation agreement which stipulates that “United States-Israel energy cooperation and the development of natural resources by Israel are in the strategic interest of the United States”, promising to assist Israel with “regional safety and security issues”.

Natural gas is seen as a resource to “positively impact regional security”, which is policy jargon for building trading bridges with neighbouring Arab countries. Egypt began importing gas from the Leviathan field in 2020, and signed the MoU with Israel and the EU last year.

Natural gas, or “LNG” is being used as a political ploy around the world to deepen political relationships and economic interdependence as the world shifts from oil not out of morality but simply because oil reserves are running dry. Branded as a transition fuel by everyone from fossil fuel chiefs to the French President, LNG is the darling fossil fuel with 40% less carbon dioxide emissions than coal (a low bar), and 125 years of global supply in current reserves.

The USA, the world’s biggest producer and exporter of LNG, is banking on the energy transition going gassy before it goes green. 20 new LNG terminals, transporting gas from Southwest’s Permian Basin, are expected to be approved by Biden’s administration this year. Bookmarked for exports, analysts say the greenhouse-gas emissions associated with it would be twenty times larger than those from the oil drilling at Willow, the much-protested new oil field in Alaska.

Gas is the currency to curry political favour. In 1999, Gaza almost did just that.

Gas in Gaza

In 1999, BG Group (BGG) discovered a large gas field between 17 and 21 nautical miles off the coast of Gaza. According to the Oslo II accords, the Palestine National Authority has maritime jurisdiction up to 20 nautical miles off of Gaza’s coast. In November 1999, the PNA signed a 25-year contract for gas exploration with BGG.

The reserves were estimated at 1 trillion cubic feet and would meet Palestine’s demands and allow for exports. Ehud Barak, Israel’s Prime Minister at the time, approved authorisation for BGG to drill the first well in July 2000. They struck gas gold. Palestine and Israel began to negotiate and the deal was seen to benefit both Israeli demand and Palestinian supply.

However, a change in Israeli leadership soured the deal, with Ariel Sharon’s government allegedly driving the rejection of a supply deal between the Palestinian gas field and the state-owned Israel Electric Corporation. In May 2002, the UK’s then-PM, Tony Blair, got involved and Sharon agreed to negotiate an agreement for the annual supply of 0.05 trillion cubic feet of Palestinian gas for a period of 10 to 15 years.

However, he changed his mind in 2003 stating that the funds could be used to support terrorism.

Ehud Olmert’s government, spurred on by the new PM, agreed to reopen negotiations with BGG in April 2007. Starting 2009, Israel would purchase 0.05 trillion cubic feet of Palestinian gas for $4 billion annually, creating a good atmosphere for peace, it was argued.

However, the 2007 Battle of Gaza in which Hamas took control of the strip changed the deal once more, with Hamas looking to increase the original 10% Palestinian share in the BGG deal. An Israeli team of of negotiators was set up by the Government of Israel to formulate a deal with BGG, bypassing both the Palestinian government and PNA, effectively nullifying the contract signed in 1999 between BGG and PNA. However, in December 2007, BGG withdrew from negotiations with the Israeli government.

In June 2008, the Israeli government recontacted BGG to urgently renegotiate the deal. The UN report states: “The decision to speed up negotiations with BGG coincided, chronologically, with the planning of an Israeli military operation in Gaza, whereby it would appear that the Government of Israel wished to reach an agreement with BGG prior to the military operation, which was already in an advanced planning stage.”

Israel’s invasion of Gaza in December 2008 brought the Palestinian gas fields under Israeli control—without regard for international law. BGG has been dealing with the Israeli government ever since. The UN estimates billions of dollars in loss for the Palestinian people.

But more gas for everyone else.

The situation in Palestine is more complex than the location of gas fields, but geopolitics and geology map similar courses. In the EU, demand for ally-approved gas is higher than ever, perhaps fuelling the audacity to champion Israel’s war crimes whilst decrying Russia’s own. As for the USA, a network of pipelines is a network of dependents who are less likely to threaten hegemony if their own energy depends on the USA’s 51st state. Through all of these calculations, Palestinians are being murdered—another externality of petrostates which will never be taken into account by our current leaders.

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Trudeau announces Canada is banning assault-style weapons



Canada is banning assault-style weapons

Canada has banned assault-style weapons following the murder of 22 people in the worst mass shooting in the country’s history, Justin Trudeau announced on Friday.

“These weapons were designed for one purpose and one purpose only: to kill the largest number of people in the shortest amount of time. There is no use and no place for such weapons in Canada,” said the prime minister. “Effective immediately, it is no longer permitted to buy, sell, transport, import or use military-grade assault weapons in this country.”

After the Nova Scotia shooting last week, Trudeau said his government intended “strengthen gun control” to fulfill a campaign promise to restrict certain weapons – a plan that had initially been derailed by the coronavirus pandemic.

the government implemented the ban immediately, and without the need for legislation in Parliament, by reclassifying about 1,500 firearm models as prohibited. A program that will buy back banned firearms from current owners is also in the works.

In the meantime, a two year amnesty is now in effect for Canadians who own the banned firearms and government officials said gun owners will also have the option to be “grandfathered” in with weapons they currently own, although no details were available for that program yet.

#Canada #guncontrolnow #triggerchange #cdnpoli

Why The Humanity Post?

The World Health Organisation has named depression as the greatest cause of suffering worldwide. In the U.S., 1 out of 5 deals with depression or anxiety. For youth, that number increases to 1 in 3.

The good news is that 40% of our happiness can be influenced by intentional thoughts and actions, leading to life changing habits. It’s this 40% that The Humanity Post  help to impact.

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The Queen Makes Historic Speech to The Nation



The Queen Makes Historic Speech to The Nation

In a rare move – one that has only been done four times for the monarch – the Queen delivered a speech to the country amid the Coronavirus pandemic.

Speaking from Windsor Castle in a pre-recorded message where only one camera person wearing protective clothing was present, the Queen rallied the country saying we will ‘succeed’ in overcoming Covid-19 and thanked NHS staff and key workers for their tireless sacrifice. One of the most stirring comments was one of hope from the 93-year-old Queen: ‘We should take comfort that while we may have more still to endure, better days will return: we will be with our friends again; we will be with our families again; we will meet again.’

The speech was watched by 24 million viewers, according to reports.

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