Necessity the mother of innovation in Gaza

I have reposted the Al Monitor Gaza contributor Mohammed Othman’s post in full. Posted December 4, 2014

As a muddy builder who has built an octagonal home, this post struck a chord and made me happy.  The devastation in Shajaiya by Israeli warmongers was soul destroying and the shekel control of goods to rebuild the Gaza Strip is yet more testament to the Zionist push to rid Palestinians completely from their invaded homeland.

The ‘product’ still costs and I wonder why they can’t just make muddies and air dry them? Perhaps I should investigate further, unless readers can offer some more information.


Houses under construction by Imad al-Khalidi’s company Ammar Heritage are seen in the northern Gaza Strip, Nov. 15, 2014. (photo by Ammar Heritage)

Gaza engineer develops new technology to replace cement

Author: Mohammed Othman, Translator:Joelle El-Khoury

GAZA CITY, Gaza Strip — Salameh Bihar, 56, who was displaced after Israel destroyed his house in Gaza’s Shajaiya neighborhood in the recent war, is still waiting to rebuild his three-story house. But he is not optimistic about succeeding.

Engineer Imad al-Khalidi has developed a replacement for cement to help the Gaza Strip deal with its housing crisis, after the Israeli war left many homes damaged or destroyed and in the face of Israel continuing to prevent the entry of construction materials.

He explained to Al-Monitor that materials are expensive and difficult to obtain. “The way construction materials are entering Gaza is unfair. For instance, a cement unit is worth 27 shekels [$6.70] for affected citizens, but how are they supposed to afford its price when their homes are destroyed? Moreover, the unit cost exceeds 150 shekels [$37.50] for average citizens [not affected by the war], which raises the price of construction operations,” he explained.

Gazans who had their homes destroyed in the war have been complaining about the slow reconstruction process and the lack of entry of building materials.

The pressing needs of Gazans has inspired innovators to develop solutions through available tools. Three successive Israeli wars in the last six years have devastated the Gaza Strip, most recently the war in July that destroyed or damaged more than 84,000 houses.

Engineer Imad al-Khalidi may have found a temporary solution to help alleviate the lack of construction materials, prevented by Israel from entering the Gaza Strip. In 2008, he started to conduct experiments on natural materials to be used in construction instead of cement, and succeeded in creating a new technique.

Khalidi, a soil expert in organic architecture, said that the search for alternatives was based on materials found in Gaza. “We wanted to use local materials as an alternative, to save ourselves and provide the displaced with shelters, as nearly 5,000 housing units were destroyed in the 2008-2009 war. We examined various types of soil in Gaza, and found a suitable type rich in natural welding materials, such as potassium carbonate, magnesium, metal oxides, limestone and sand,” he explained.

He pointed out that the natural materials he found act like cement in its different stages, but they are more solid and can last hundreds of years.

Khalidi explained the process: “We compose a homogeneous mixture by conducting a soil treatment through pressure, to which we add welding natural materials such as potassium carbonate, ground limestone powder and a small quantity of gypsum, to form an initial coherent product in the brick production. Yet, the strong cohesion begins after it is used and continues to solidify for hundreds of years, and to harden dozens of times more than its initial form. This means that the brick increasingly hardens with time, and has its own characteristics.”

Khalidi established in 2009 his own private factory to produce local bricks in different sizes. At first, he designed machinery operated manually, then he created hydraulic machinery. “We have evolved, and we are now only relying on automated pressure systems. As some donor institutions demanded services to accommodate those affected by the wars, the work has increased in our factory with a production capacity reaching up to 50,000 bricks per day,” he said.

Khalidi said that after he developed his new product, he started working in small workshops, as there was a lack of oil and electricity. But today, he owns another factory. “We have developed a technique to be able to produce bricks without the need for any kind of power, by using the same materials and introducing some improvements so that we can overcome the power crisis,” he added.

Although the material from which the brick is produced is solid, Khalidi believes that it does not consist of a substitute for traditional materials. The long blockade has prevented the reconstruction of destroyed homes, not to mention the natural population increase in the Gaza Strip, which, according to Khalidi, requires 80,000 housing units to be built over the next five years.

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A near completed housing project by Ammar Heritage, northern Gaza Strip, Nov. 15, 2014. (Photo by: Ammar Heritage)

“The significant devastation in Gaza is accompanied by a new and great challenge, namely the provision of shelters. There would be at least 3,000 trucks loaded with construction materials in the Gaza Strip per day, in case there is a serious will to rebuild. For this reason, we are currently using this new technique only to help provide shelters,” Khalidi said.

Khalidi has kept the price the same as cement for locals looking to build homes, while upping the price for commercial projects. “The price per square meter ranges between $350 and $400 for ready-to-move-in private construction projects, and between $150 and $160 per square meter for shelter projects. As for the ordinary citizens who did not suffer any damages [to their homes] and would like to build their own home, it will cost them $220 [per square meter], which is the same price as cement.”

Safwat Mushtaha, chairman of Mushtaha and Hassouna Co., a construction company in Gaza, said that modern technology can help in light of the shortage of traditional construction materials because of the Israeli blockade.

Mushtaha told Al-Monitor that by using the new product, “the owners of destroyed homes will save 25% of the original cost of the building process with traditional materials.”

While Khalidi’s product is yet another example of Gazans exploring innovative solutions to help cope with the crippling Israeli-Egyptian blockade, it is no replacement for the need to end the siege.

Read more: http://www.al-monitor.com/pulse/originals/2014/12/palestine-gaza-reconstruction–siege-new-technology.html#ixzz3LLg700WK

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Among his achievements, Palestine- the unmentioned Gough Whitlam stance.

Today the visionary Gough Whitlam, PM of Australia 1972-1975, died at the age of 98.

Much will be written about his legacy as the greatest Statesman Australia ever had on the world stage.

His government’s achievements in sweeping social change and reform through implementation of government policy is unsurpassed in Australia. He changed the way Australia though about itself………

  • Abolished conscription
  • Vietnam troop withdrawal
  • Reduced voting age from 21 to 18
  • Introduced equal pay for women and other policies to support womens rights (see here)
  • Engaged with China as first Western leader (in opposition)to do so.
  • Recognised China
  • Free tertiary education (thanks Gough!)
  • Universal health insurance (Medicare)
  • Universal Childcare reform
  • Death penalty abolished
  • Anti-discrimination laws introduced
  • ‘No fault’ divorce
  • Aboriginal land rights recognised for the first time.

All this and more in such a short time………..

The one black mark that remains about the Whitlam government was their complicit silence on Indonesia’s take over of  Timor Leste in 1975. Despite this Gough has a legacy of significant social reform in this country.

One area that will get no press mention and where Gough held a position completely contrary to PM’s (Liberal or Labour) before him or since, is his stance on Israel/Palestine. Something highly significant  that has not been mentioned in any of the long lists of sustained achievements by the great man of Australian politics.

Perhaps it is best left to the Jerusalem Centre for Public Affairs to enlighten us on his position on Israel with a section of the article from 2007 by Dr. Colin Rubenstein, (Nov. 14th 2007) “A Distant Affinity: The History of Australian-Israeli Relations” (full article here)

…..It is generally agreed that, despite a solidly pro-Israeli record up until that point, the election of an ALP government under Gough Whitlam (December 1972-November. 1975) marked a sharp departure in Australian policy toward Israel and Arab-Israeli issues. The Middle East was not a matter of controversy during the campaign and did not feature in the platform of either major party. Whitlam, speaking to Jewish gatherings during the lead-up to the campaign, emphasized his fraternal ties with the ruling Israeli Labor Party and friendship with leaders such as Golda Meir and Yigal Allon, and received a majority of Jewish support.[52]

In office, however, the Whitlam government moved farther from the United States and closer in its foreign policy to the nonaligned movement, where condemnation of Israel was the norm. Although Whitlam described this policy as “even-handedness and neutrality,” such neutrality was a far cry from the sort also proclaimed by his conservative predecessors.

The effects of this new policy became most apparent during the 1973 Yom Kippur  War when Australia failed to condemn either the Egyptian and Syrian attacks that launched it or the Soviet airlift of arms supplies to the Arab combatants. However, once the United States began to airlift arms and supplies to Israel, the Australian UN representative, on instructions from Canberra, condemned both airlifts with a particular emphasis on America’s. Even before this, there had been repeated one-sided condemnations by Australia in the United Nations of all Israeli reprisals for terrorist and cross-border attacks, but silence about anti-Israeli aggressions.

In a meeting with predominantly ALP-affiliated Jews called to clear the air, Whitlam apparently became angered by hostile questioning. He equated Israeli responses with terrorism, said an Israeli reprisal raid on a PLO base in Lebanon had been “not only a mistake, but a crime,” and cited the growing Australian Arab community becoming “more articulate” as a reason to change Australian policy. Most controversially, he referred to those present as “You people”; asked about the failure to condemn the Arab attacks that had launched the war, he responded: “You people should realise that there is a large Christian Arab community in this country.”

Under Whitlam, Australia also voted for a resolution equating Zionism with racism at a UN women’s conference in Mexico, though it voted against the equivalent resolution in the UN General Assembly. Whitlam later approved the establishment of a PLO liaison office in Canberra and became embroiled in scandals involving the acceptance of Arab loans to Australia and the ALP. In the 1974 Khemlani affair, Australia sought to borrow $4 billion from dubious Arab sources, repayable as a lump sum after twenty years. Even more controversially, during the 1975 election campaign Whitlam secretly approved a scheme to obtain a substantial sum, often said to be $500,000, from the Iraqi Baath Party to help fund ALP campaign expenses. It later emerged that the man at the center of the Iraqi loans affair, ALP activist Bill Hartley, had also written to Yasser Arafat seeking PLO funds for the party. Approaches for funds also were reportedly made to Saudi Arabia.

Following his highly controversial dismissal by the governor-general and subsequent loss of an election in 1975, Whitlam continued to maintain that his stances were justified by the existence of the growing Arab community in Australia. He also criticized Australian Jewish leaders for having “blackmailed” him, and implied that Israel dominated U.S. foreign policy and that the international media was monolithically pro-Israeli”.

What the article fails to mention of course, is that the reason for seeking the money through Khemlani was because the hostile Senate continuously blocked supply to the incumbent government. Gough needed the $4 billion to ostensibly buy ‘back the farm’, to buy back our mining resources from foreign ownership. He did not succeed and his now historic “dismissal” eventuated.

The media Whitlam spoke of is the Murdoch press, a player in his rise and a key player in his demise.
RIP Gough

 

Xanana Gusmao PM of Timor Leste speaks at the UN General Debate

http://webtv.un.org/watch/timor-leste-general-debate-69th-session/3808487676001

Watch 30 minutes of SANITY in the UN from a tiny, poor nation with INSPIRATIONAL LEADERSHIP

Timor-Leste, General Debate, 69th Session 25 Sep 2014 –

Statement by His Excellency Kay Rala Xanana Gusmão, Prime Minister of the Democratic Republic of Timor-Leste at the general debate of the 69th Session of the General Assembly of the United Nations (New York, 24-30 September 2014).

‘Poet Guerilla’, now Statesman in one of the World’s poorest developing Countriesin New York Talks about Peace

 

Xanana Gusmao, Prime Minister and Minister of Defense and Security of the Democratic Republic of Timor-Leste

Xanana Gusmao, Prime Minister and Minister of Defense and Security of the Democratic Republic of Timor-Leste http://portuguese-american-journal.com/xanana-gusmao-doutor-honoris-causa-by-the-university-of-coimbra-portugal/

KEY NOTE ADDRESS BY HIS EXCELLENCY THE PRIME MINISTER THE DEMOCRATIC REPUBLIC OF TIMOR-LESTE

KAY RALA XANANA GUSMÃO

AT THE HIGH-LEVEL MINISTERIAL LUNCH MEETING ON PEACE AND CAPABLE INSTITUTIONS AS STAND-ALONE  GOALS IN THE POST-2015
DEVELOPMENT AGENDA

New York
22 September 2014

Distinguished guests
Ladies and gentlemen,

We are all here because we are committed to advancing human development, eradicating poverty and securing a sustainable future.

The world took a great step forward in 2000 when the United Nations agreed on the Millennium Development Goals.

The MDGs focused the global development effort on achieving eight goals that addressed poverty, education, gender, child mortality, maternal  health, disease, environmental sustainability and development funding. Since the adoption of the
Millennium Development Goals we have experienced unprecedented human progress.

We have seen hundreds of millions of people lifted from poverty, and improved health and education outcomes across many countries of the world.

However, it is important to note, that much of this progress is not because of the global development effort, but because of the rise of Asia and, in particular, of China.

It is even more important to note, that there are still 2.2 billion people living in poverty in fragile and conflict affected nations – nations that will not achieve even a single Millennium Development Goal by 2015.

The common factor in many of the nations left behind, despite the MDG initiative, is conflict.

Sometimes a truth is so obvious that it is easily overlooked. The truth we have learned through bitter experience in Timor-Leste is that you must have peace – before you can even begin to rebuild a state.

Ladies and gentlemen, there was not a Millennium Development Goal that addressed this fundamental truth. (my emphasis)

We must ensure we do not ignore the obvious, as we work together to formulate the post 2015 development agenda.

I am very pleased to see that a peace related goal is one of the 17 Sustainable Development Goals suggested by the Open Working Group.

Sustainable Development Goal 16 is to: “Promote peaceful and inclusive societies for sustainable development, provide access to justice for all and build effective, accountable and inclusive institutions at all levels.”

This is a very welcome move, but I believe it should be Sustainable Development Goal number 1, as none of the other 16 goals will be achievable
without peace and effective state institutions. (my emphasis)

Let me share with you some hard ‘truths’ we learned in Timor-Leste to explain what I mean.

Firstly, while we have made remarkable progress in many areas, we are not on track to reach the targets set under even one of the Millennium Development Goals. This is perhaps in part, because we are a very young nation. We are
younger even than the Millennium Development Goals, having only achieved our independence in 2002 after a war of resistance that lasted nearly a quarter of a century.

But it is also because following independence, and despite extensive assistance from the international community, we found ourselves trapped in a cycle of violence and unrest. In 2006, we faced our greatest crisis as sections of
our police and army resorted to armed conflict and took us to the brink of civil war. The crisis wiped out years of development progress and we realised that our problem was not that we were poor but that our institutions were weak.

Children stopped going to school, health clinics were deserted because people were too scared to make the journey to the clinic, our economy was stagnating because the government went into shut down and international investors fled. We had 150,000 people living as displaced people in their own country because they were too scared to go back to their villages.

After much national reflection, we decided we had to make our number one priority the peaceful resolution of our differences. We realised that there can be no development if there is chaos. We realised that without peace, we would betray the dreams of all those who died in our quest for independence. And we realised that without peace, we would be failing our children.

So we started a dialogue. We convinced our rebel soldiers in the mountains to surrender peacefully. Our friends here at the United Nations said it would take a decade but within two years, the tents were gone and our people had all returned home to their villages.

And we began to rebuild our State institutions.

We still have a long way to go. But you only have to compare Dili of eight years ago with the Díli of today to know we are on the right track and that we have made remarkable progress.

Ladies and gentlemen

As we embarked upon the process of consolidating peace and building our institutions we discovered that our experience was not unique. There were
other nations around the world which were fragile, or affected by conflict, that were not on track to achieve a single Millennium Development Goal.

We came together to speak with one voice as the g7+ group of fragile and conflict affected nations. The g7+ now represents 20 nations that have learnt, through bitter experience that a global development framework will not work without a focus on peace building and State building. (my emphasis)

Sadly, the crisis in South Sudan is the most recent example of the hope of development progress being destroyed by conflict, and the failure of state institutions.

And then there is the Ebola crisis gripping West African nations that highlights the critical need for capable institutions to address what could become a global health crisis.

I want to state here that Timor-Leste will contribute $1 million to assist the West African g7+ member nations dealing with the Ebola crisis.

And we see disturbing events in the Middle East unfold which prove the need for peace and properly functioning governments.

We also have to ask the question – who profits from conflict in developing nations? The answer of course, is ultimately those corporations that
manufacture and sells the arms. We need some collective action in the United Nations to properly monitor and investigate who profits from conflict. (my emphasis)

Ladies and gentlemen,

If we are serious about having sustainable development goals that will have a transformative impact on human development and global peace and security, then we need a stand-alone goal that addresses peace building and effective, accountable and inclusive institutions. (my emphasis)

I urge the international community to embrace this goal so we can ensure that no nations, and no people, are left behind by the global development agenda.

And so, as we look into the future, I hope that securing global, regional and national peace will be our consuming agenda.

Because there can be no sustainable development without peace.

Thank you very much.

22 September 2014
Kay Rala Xanana Gusmão

*********************************************************************

I thank ETAN mailing list of a brilliant site  www.etan.org

CHRIS HEDGES veteran Middle Eastern Journalist on State Sponsored Terror

ontheearthproduction  Sep 15, 2014

Chris Hedges: The Disease of Imperialism

 

A transcript is provided on the site http://dandelionsalad.wordpress.com/2014/09/15/chris-hedges-the-disease-of-imperialism-transcript/