Report: Germany classified list of companies that helped build Syria’s CW stockpile

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LONDON — Germany concealed a list of companies that helped Syria’s chemical weapons program.

A leading German publication asserted that the government of Chancellor Angela Merkel has refused to release a list of German companies suspected of supplying Syria’s CW program.

CW 300x199 Report: Germany classified list of companies that helped build Syria’s CW stockpile

A U.N. chemical weapons expert holds sample from an alleged chemical weapons near Damascus, Syria in August 2013. / Mohamed Abdullah / Reuters

The weekly Der Spiegel said Berlin received the list from the Organization for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons that was assigned the destruction of the CW stockpile and facilities of President Bashar Assad in 2013. About 1,400 Syrians were said to have been killed in Assad’s CW attacks.

“Berlin immediately classified the list and has since kept it under lock and key,” Der Spiegel said. “The government says that releasing the names would ‘significantly impair foreign policy interests and thus the welfare of the Federal Republic of Germany.’”

In a report on Jan. 23, Der Spiegel asserted that successive German governments ignored decades of help by private contractors for Assad’s CW program. Today, Syria was said to have one of the largest stockpiles of CW in the world, including VX, sarin and mustard gas.

“When Left Party parliamentarian Jan van Aken, a former UN biological weapons inspector, made an official inquiry regarding the OPCW list, he was only allowed to read the government’s response in a room in parliament specially designed for reviewing top secret documents,” Der Spiegel said. “But parliamentarians still haven’t learned the names of the German companies that delivered supplies.”

The German-funded Institute for Contemporary History has published suspected German contractors to Syria’s CW program as 1984. The list, cited in a 1984 memorandum, included Schott, which produces laboratory equipment, Kolb, a technology supplier, and Riedel-de Haen, a pharmaceutical firm. Kolb was also said to have helped Saddam Hussein’s CW program in neighboring Iraq.

“German companies, for example, provided equipment for the manufacture of methylphosphonyl difluoride, which can be combined with isopropanol for the production of sarin,” Der Spiegel said. “German intelligence knew about such shipments in 1983. But nothing happened.”

Israel and the United States have long urged Berlin to stop German companies from helping CW programs in the Middle East. But Der Spiegel said German governments, which sought to promote trade, probably did not conduct any investigation.

“The issue is not only that of unscrupulous German companies,” Der Spiegel said. “Rather, it also exposes the hypocrisy of a number of German chancellors, particularly that of Helmut Kohl, the father of reunification and long-time head of the Christian Democrats, the party currently led by Angela Merkel. Kohl was the chancellor of West Germany in 1983 when the issue of chemical weapons arose.”

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Kurds advance, launch rocket attacks against ISIL in Mosul

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BAGHDAD — Iraqi Kurdish forces have reported significant progress in the war against Islamic State of Iraq and Levant.

KurdishRocketAttacks 300x168 Kurds advance, launch rocket attacks against ISIL in Mosul

The rocket attacks “struck great fear into the hearts of the terrorists,” the Kurdistan Democratic Party said.

The Kurdish Regional Government said security forces were moving toward ISIL headquarters in the northern Iraqi city of Mosul. The Kurds said the forces fired rockets into Mosul for the first time since the ISIL capture of northern Iraq in June 2014.

“This struck great fear into the hearts of the terrorists,” the Kurdistan Democratic Party said.

In a statement on Jan. 24, KRG’s Security Council said 21 ISIL senior fighters, including the commander of special forces, were killed in the Kurdish rocket attack. The Kurds said 20 BM-21 Grad rockets were launched from positions 20 kilometers north of Mosul.

Kurds have reported advancing against ISIL positions around Mosul. KRG has urged Baghdad to send the Iraq Army for a major attack on the Mosul area.

The U.S. military has confirmed Kurdish progress against ISIL. In a statement on Jan. 24, the military said Kurdish forces, backed by U.S.-led air strikes, were ready to capture additional territory from ISIL around Mosul. ISIL was said to have deployed up to 30,000 fighters in northern Iraq.

“Forces from the Iraqi Kurdistan Region seized ground formerly held by the enemy, including a critical road junction that ISIL was using to resupply their stronghold in Mosul,” the U.S. military statement said.

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New Saudi king appoints young 2nd generation princes to key posts

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ABU DHABI — Saudi Arabia’s new king has appointed a second-generation prince to the line of succession.

PrinceMohammed 300x180 New Saudi king appoints young 2nd generation princes to key posts

Prince Mohammed, son of King Salman. / Hassan Ammar / AP

King Salman has appointed Interior Minister Prince Mohammed Bin Nayef as deputy crown prince. The position was seen as a stepping stone for the 55-year-old minister to become the next Saudi monarch.

“We will continue, God willing, to hold the straight course that this country has followed since its establishment by the late King Abdul Aziz,” Salman said.

Mohammed has represented the second generation of Saudi princes who have waited for decades to enter positions of influence. His late father, Nayef, was interior minister for more than 30 years, but lasted only several months as crown prince before he died in 2012.

Diplomatic sources said Mohammed was regarded as the most pro-American of the next generation of princes. The administration of President Barack Obama has met several times with him, particularly after he was appointed interior minister in 2012.

For his part, Salman pledged to maintain Saudi policy under his predecessors.

The king appointed his 35-year-old son, Mohammed Bin Salman, another rival for the throne, as defense minister and head of the royal court. Mohammed is the youngest member of the Cabinet.

“Prince Mohammed’s appointment comes as a result of the successful role he played as head of the crown prince’s court,” Saudi analyst Saleh Abdul Rahman said.

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Sales of surveillance cameras surge in South Korea after daycare abuse case

SEOUL (Reuters) – Sales of surveillance cameras are surging in South Korea after a daycare center worker was caught on camera earlier this month knocking a toddler to the floor, spurring calls for closer monitoring of schools and child care facilities.

Some parents have kept their children at home amid angry demands for measures to protect children, including more cameras and tighter screening of staff, as subsequent footage of other daycare abuse incidents emerged.

Police arrested the worker on Jan. 15. Prosecutors have yet to charge her.

The education ministry said last week it planned to require that 90 percent of kindergartens install surveillance cameras by next year. Parliament has introduced a bill to require all daycare centers to install cameras, and is expected to pass it in March.

Auction, a large local online shopping outlet, reported sales of surveillance cameras rose 40 percent from Jan. 9 to 22 compared with the same period a year ago. G-Market, another online mall, said sales of surveillance cameras are up 37 percent in the past month. The sites did not give specific sales figures.

Auction cited the daycare abuse case and demand from child care centers, as well as rising camera use by hospitals and other public facilities, fuelling the rise in sales.

“It looks like there was a large impact with CCTV cameras because they are related to children’s safety,” said Kim Sun-seok, who manages the sale of digital products at Auction.

Lee Ki-sook of Ewha Women’s University, who teaches early childhood education, said daycare centers also need to tighten staff certification procedures and increase wages to address the problem of abuse.

“Installing CCTV cameras won’t solve everything,” she said.

(Reporting By Kahyun Yang; Editing by Edmund Klamann)

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So next time we say each US citizen and Taxpayer hands are deep involved in the…

So next time we say each US citizen and Taxpayer hands are deep involved in the blood of each person killed in out area, you should feel further ashamed of yourself instead of crying you don’t support what your government does, if that’s the case then Arab Spring your government just like how you stood idle seeing US deathsquads cheerleading the Arab Sprung countries.

safe image.php?d=AQBXK4AhO3f1cfQJ&w=158&h=158& israel funding aggression So next time we say each US citizen and Taxpayer hands are deep involved in the…
Obama’s ‘helplessness’ an act: Snowden reveals scale of US aid to Israel
The turmoil gripping the Middle East is a direct result of the provision of cash, weapons and surveillance to Israel by the US, the latest Snowden leak illustrates. Obama’s “helpless detachment” is just for show, the Intercept’s Glenn Greenwald writes.

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Meanwhile in occupied #Palestine, #IDF the mercenary thugs formed from foreign i…

Meanwhile in occupied #Palestine, #IDF the mercenary thugs formed from foreign imported racial radical settlers continue the oppression against civilians, the real land owners, because they can and because each western citizen pays them from their hard earned taxmoney to do so.

 Meanwhile in occupied #Palestine, #IDF the mercenary thugs formed from foreign i…
Israeli police savagely beating 15-year-old

Israeli police savagely beating 15-year-old Tariq Abu Khder, the cousin of Mohammed Abu Khder was was burned to death caught on tape.I truly have no words to say. Please Share this everywhere you can before Facebook takes it downPosted by: Karim Metwaly

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To Collect Debts, Nursing Home Seizing Control Over Patients

 To Collect Debts, Nursing Home Seizing Control Over Patients

© Piotr Redlinski for The New York Times
Dino and Lillian Palermo at the Mary Manning Walsh Nursing Home, which had tried to obtain guardianship over Mrs. Palermo.

Lillian Palermo tried to prepare for the worst possibilities of aging. An insurance executive with a Ph.D. in psychology and a love of ballroom dancing, she arranged for her power of attorney and health care proxy to go to her husband, Dino, eight years her junior, if she became incapacitated. And in her 80s, she did.

Mr. Palermo, who was the lead singer in a Midtown nightclub in the 1960s when her elegant tango first caught his eye, now regularly rolls his wife’s wheelchair to the piano at the Catholic nursing home in Manhattan where she ended up in 2010 as dementia, falls and surgical complications took their toll. He sings her favorite songs, feeds her home-cooked Italian food, and pays a private aide to be there when he cannot.

But one day last summer, after he disputed nursing home bills that had suddenly doubled Mrs. Palermo’s copays, and complained about inexperienced employees who dropped his wife on the floor, Mr. Palermo was shocked to find a six-page legal document waiting on her bed.

It was a guardianship petition filed by the nursing home, Mary Manning Walsh, asking the court to give a stranger full legal power over Mrs. Palermo, now 90, and complete control of her money.

Few people are aware that a nursing home can take such a step. Guardianship cases are difficult to gain access to and poorly tracked by New York State courts; cases are often closed from public view for confidentiality. But the Palermo case is no aberration. Interviews with veterans of the system and a review of guardianship court data conducted by researchers at Hunter College at the request of The New York Times show the practice has become routine, underscoring the growing power nursing homes wield over residents and families amid changes in the financing of long-term care.

In a random, anonymized sample of 700 guardianship cases filed in Manhattan over a decade, Hunter College researchers found more than 12 percent were brought by nursing homes. Some of these may have been prompted by family feuds, suspected embezzlement or just the absence of relatives to help secure Medicaid coverage. But lawyers and others versed in the guardianship process agree that nursing homes primarily use such petitions as a means of bill collection — a purpose never intended by the Legislature when it enacted the guardianship statute in 1993.

At least one judge has ruled that the tactic by nursing homes is an abuse of the law, but the petitions, even if they are ultimately unsuccessful, force families into costly legal ordeals.

“It’s a strategic move to intimidate,” said Ginalisa Monterroso, who handled patient Medicaid accounts at the Mary Manning Walsh Nursing Home until 2012, and is now chief executive of Medicaid Advisory Group, an elder care counseling business that was representing Mr. Palermo in his billing dispute. “Nursing homes do it just to bring money.”

“It’s so cruel,” she added. “Mr. Palermo loves his wife, he’s there every single day, and they just threw him to the courts.”

 To Collect Debts, Nursing Home Seizing Control Over Patients

© Piotr Redlinski for The New York Times
Dino and Lillian Palermo at the Mary Manning Walsh Nursing Home, which had tried to obtain guardianship over Mrs. Palermo.

Brett D. Nussbaum, a lawyer who represents Mary Manning Walsh and many other nursing homes, said Mr. Palermo’s devotion to his wife was irrelevant to the decision to seek a court-appointed guardian in July, when the billing dispute over his wife’s care reached a stalemate, with an outstanding balance approaching $68,000.

“The Palermo case is no different than any other nursing home bill that they had difficulty collecting,” Mr. Nussbaum said, estimating that he had brought 5,000 guardianship cases himself in 21 years of practice. “When you have families that do not cooperate and an incapacitated person, guardianship is a legitimate means to get the nursing home paid.”

Guardianship transfers a person’s legal rights to make some or all decisions to someone appointed by the court — usually a lawyer paid with the ward’s money. It is aimed at protecting people unable to manage their affairs because of incapacity, and who lack effective help without court action. Legally, it can supplant a power of attorney and a health care proxy.

Although it is a drastic measure, nursing home lawyers argue that using guardianship to secure payment for care is better than suing an incapacitated resident who cannot respond.

Mr. Palermo, 82, was devastated by the petition, brought in the name of Sister Sean William, the Carmelite nun who is the executive director of Mary Manning Walsh. “It’s like a hell,” he said last fall, speaking in the cadences of the southern Italian village where he grew up in poverty in a family of eight. “Never in my life I was sued for anything. I just want to take care of my wife.”

A court evaluator eventually reported that Mr. Palermo was the appropriate guardian, and questioned why the petition had been filed. But the matter still dragged on, and Mr. Palermo, who had promised to pay any arrears once Medicaid completed a recalculation of the bill, grew distraught as his expenses fighting the case reached $10,000.

In the end, Medicaid’s recalculation put his wife’s monthly copay at $4,558.54, almost $600 less than the nursing home had claimed, but still far more than the $2,642 Mr. Palermo had been paying under an earlier Medicaid calculation. As soon as the nursing home cashed his check for the outstanding balance, it withdrew the guardianship petition.

“They chose to use a strong-arm method, asking for somebody to be appointed to take over her funds, hoping for a rubber stamp to do their wishes,” said Elliott Polland, Mr. Palermo’s lawyer.

Many judges go along with such petitions, according to lawyers and others involved in the process. One judge who has not is Alexander W. Hunter Jr., a longtime State Supreme Court justice in the Bronx and Manhattan. In guardianship cases in 2006 and 2007, Justice Hunter ordered the nursing homes to bear the legal costs, ruling they had brought the petitions solely for the purpose of being paid and stating that this was not the Legislature’s intent when it enacted the statute, known as Article 81 of the Mental Hygiene Law.

 To Collect Debts, Nursing Home Seizing Control Over Patients

© Nina Bernstein/The New York Times
Photographs of the Palermos from the late 1960s. Mrs. Palermo, now 90, has been living at the nursing home since 2010.

Last year Justice Hunter did appoint a guardian in response to a petition by Hebrew Home for the Aged at Riverdale, but in his scathing 11-page decision, he directed the guardian to investigate and to consider referring the case for criminal prosecution of financial exploitation.

The decision describes a 94-year-old resident with a bank balance of $240,000 who had been unable to go home after rehabilitative treatment because of a fire in her co-op apartment; her only regular visitors were real estate agents who wanted her to sell. After Hebrew Home’s own doctor evaluated her as incapable of making financial decisions, the decision says, the nursing home collected a $50,000 check from her; it sued her when she refused to continue writing checks, then filed for guardianship.

“It would be an understatement to declare that this court is outraged by the behavior exhibited by the interested parties — parties who were supposed to protect the person, but who have all unabashedly demonstrated through their actions in connection with the person that they are only interested in getting paid,” he wrote.

Jennifer Cona, a lawyer for the nursing home, called the decision “grossly unfair to Hebrew Home,” but said she could not discuss details because the record was sealed.

Many cases in which judges grant nursing homes’ guardianship petitions never come to light. But one that challenges the legal propriety of such petitions for bill collection is now pending before the Appellate Division of the State Supreme Court. Without explanation, that record, too, is sealed from public scrutiny.

“There is no transparency in the whole process,” said Alexandra Siskopoulos, a lawyer who represents a relative of the nursing home resident in the appellate case — a relative who had wanted to take the resident home. “Unfortunately, people’s eyes are not opened until it’s their family member, and at that point, it’s too late.”

Throughout the country, data is lacking on the most basic facts about guardianships, even how many there are. In New York State, with different rules in 62 counties and no centralized database, it has taken a team of researchers more than two years to collect information from a fraction of case files in 14 counties, said Jean Callahan, the director of the Brookdale Center on Healthy Aging at Hunter College.

Preliminary findings of the center’s study are not expected until later this year, but at the request of The Times, the researchers undertook a breakdown of the petitioners in a sample of the 3,302 guardianship cases filed in Manhattan from 2002 to 2012. More frequent petitioners than nursing homes (12.4 percent) were hospitals (16.1 percent), friends and family (25.3 percent) and Adult Protective Services (40.1 percent).

New York’s guardianship statute was part of a national movement to limit guardianships to the least restrictive alternatives necessary to prevent harm. A petition is supposed to be brought only by someone with the person’s welfare at heart, and guardianship is to be tailored to individual needs, taking into account the person’s wishes.

Instead, Ms. Callahan said, “it has become a system that’s very focused on finances.”

One afternoon, Mrs. Palermo dozed in her wheelchair while her husband described their careful preparations for old age, and the shock of discovering that papers drawn up by an elder law specialist were insufficient protection.

He recalled the fear and anger he felt when he first read the nursing home’s petition, on his bus ride back to a rent-stabilized apartment on East 36th Street filled with mementos of their happy marriage. They have no children. “Who better than me, the husband for 47 years, that she gave power of attorney?” he asked.

As his voice grew anguished, Mrs. Palermo began to moan and cry out incoherently. “Are you O.K., baby?” he asked, jumping up to embrace her. “Now, don’t do that. Come on, give me a hug.”

He soothed her in Italian, speaking of the polenta he had made for her that morning. He wheeled her to the dining room. Later, he would serenade her.

But in the night, again he could not sleep for worry. He fingered drafts of his own petitions, hand-lettered pages that he debated sending to nursing home administrators. One was addressed “To God and to whom it may concern.”

“I’m trapped in a web of people and lawyers that will exhaust my 50 years of sacrifices and savings,” he wrote. “Please, dear God, grant me strength and wisdom to take care of my wife.”

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