US Jewish lobby group meets



WASHINGTON // The American Israel Public Affairs Committee, the powerful lobbying group known for its unwavering support of Israel, kicks off its annual conference here today amid high tensions stemming from a US-Israel dispute over settlement construction in East Jerusalem. The conference, which brings the Israeli prime minister to the US capital, sets up a week of closed-door meetings and public pronouncements that will provide a clearer picture of how deep the tensions run and how long the diplomatic flap will last.

Benjamin Netanyahu is scheduled to meet Barack Obama, the US president, who recently postponed plans to visit Indonesia and Australia to make a final push for his top domestic priority, healthcare reform. The announcement of their meeting, putting an end to doubts that it would happen, could be a sign that the countries are ready to enter a more conciliatory phase. Mr Netanyahu also will meet Hillary Clinton, the secretary of state, whom he called last week to discuss "specific actions that might be taken to improve the atmosphere for progress", according to the state department. During the call, Mr Netanyahu offered his much-anticipated response to the US request that Israel halt its plan to build 1,600 new housing units on land claimed by Palestinians. The details of that response were not disclosed but Mrs Clinton referred to Mr Netanyahu's proposals as "useful and productive".

The construction plans were announced during a visit to Israel this month by Joe Biden, the US vice president, spoiling his efforts to build momentum for the peace process. Mrs Clinton and Mr Netanyahu are scheduled to address the Aipac audience within hours of each other tomorrow, their most public remarks since the dispute began. The words of each leader will be picked apart by analysts and activist looking for more clues as to how each side will proceed. The Israeli prime minister's speech will likely provide a more definitive answer on the controversial settlement project. For Mrs Clinton, meanwhile, the question is whether she will continue to denounce Israeli policies with tough rhetoric or resort to the kind of pro-Israel applause lines that often define political speeches at Aipac conferences.

Aaron David Miller, a former Middle East negotiator in Republican and Democratic administrations and now a scholar at the Woodrow Wilson Center, said he expects Mrs Clinton to do a little of both, giving a speech that is "tough as well as reassuring". Although Mr Miller said the current dispute is not as serious as some previous ones, such as the 1975 fallout over a US demand that Israel partially withdraw from the Sinai Peninsula, he noted that Mr Netanyahu's visit to Washington has the makings of gripping political theatre for those who track the Israeli-Palestinian conflict.

There were signs late last week that the US-Israel relationship was already on the mend. Mrs Clinton seemed to soften her tone when she described the "unshakeable bond" between the United States and Israel during a press conference. But the dispute has not yet been resolved and the way forward for both sides remains unclear. Steven Cook, an expert on the Middle East at the Council on Foreign Relations, said he expects both sides to wind down the tensions and return to the shared goal of bringing Israelis and Palestinians together for so-called "proximity talks", or indirect negotiations mediated by the United States.

"I think the ones who are going to be sorely disappointed are folks in the region who are expecting the administration to take some sort of different stance," he said, calling the dispute one of many "periodic bumps in the road" in the US-Israel relationship. Still, he said: "The stakes are high for Netanyahu. I think the stakes are high for the administration as well." The Aipac conference often involves a heavy dose of politics, and it has served in the past as a venue for US officials to criticise Israel.

At the 1989 conference, James Baker, the US secretary of state at the time, bluntly told the audience that it was time for Israel to "lay aside once and for all the unrealistic dream of a Greater Israel". In 2006, Nancy Pelosi, the house speaker, heard scattered boos after she called the Iraq war a failure. Last year, Mr Biden criticised Israel's settlement policies, at one point telling the audience "you are not going to like my saying this".

Aipac, for its part, has deliberately staked out a position in the current dispute by issuing a statement that was sharply critical of the administration's tone. It remains to be seen whether the group will soften its position. The annual conference is a tangible expression of Aipac's power in Washington and influence over top US and Israeli policymakers. This year's guests include Tony Blair, the former British prime minister and now envoy to the Mideast Quartet; Tzipi Livni, the Israeli opposition leader and head of the Kadima Party; and several top US legislators and governors.

This year's conference has been billed as the biggest in Aipac's history, with an estimated 7,500 participants. Conference attendees also will visit Capitol Hill to lobby for Aipac-approved legislation, including measures passed by both houses of Congress that would stiffen sanctions on Iran. Aipac spent nearly US$2.8 million (Dh10.3m) lobbying Congress last year, its highest single-year total of the decade, according to the Center for Responsive Politics, a Washington-based research group that tracks money in politics.

@Email:sstanek@thenational.ae

Company Profile

Company name: Cargoz
Date started: January 2022
Founders: Premlal Pullisserry and Lijo Antony
Based: Dubai
Number of staff: 30
Investment stage: Seed

Unresolved crisis

Russia and Ukraine have been locked in a bitter conflict since 2014, when Ukraine’s Kremlin-friendly president was ousted, Moscow annexed Crimea and then backed a separatist insurgency in the east.

Fighting between the Russia-backed rebels and Ukrainian forces has killed more than 14,000 people. In 2015, France and Germany helped broker a peace deal, known as the Minsk agreements, that ended large-scale hostilities but failed to bring a political settlement of the conflict.

The Kremlin has repeatedly accused Kiev of sabotaging the deal, and Ukrainian officials in recent weeks said that implementing it in full would hurt Ukraine.

The biog

Born: Kuwait in 1986
Family: She is the youngest of seven siblings
Time in the UAE: 10 years
Hobbies: audiobooks and fitness: she works out every day, enjoying kickboxing and basketball

ICC Awards for 2021+

MEN

Cricketer of the Year+– Shaheen Afridi+(Pakistan)

T20 Cricketer of the Year+– Mohammad Rizwan+(Pakistan)

ODI Cricketer of the Year+– Babar Azam+(Pakistan)

Test Cricketer of the Year+– Joe Root+(England)

WOMEN

Cricketer of the Year+– Smriti Mandhana+(India)

ODI Cricketer of the Year+– Lizelle Lee+(South Africa)

T20 Cricketer of the Year+– Tammy Beaumont+(England)

Financial considerations before buying a property

Buyers should try to pay as much in cash as possible for a property, limiting the mortgage value to as little as they can afford. This means they not only pay less in interest but their monthly costs are also reduced. Ideally, the monthly mortgage payment should not exceed 20 per cent of the purchaser’s total household income, says Carol Glynn, founder of Conscious Finance Coaching.

“If it’s a rental property, plan for the property to have periods when it does not have a tenant. Ensure you have enough cash set aside to pay the mortgage and other costs during these periods, ideally at least six months,” she says. 

Also, shop around for the best mortgage interest rate. Understand the terms and conditions, especially what happens after any introductory periods, Ms Glynn adds.

Using a good mortgage broker is worth the investment to obtain the best rate available for a buyer’s needs and circumstances. A good mortgage broker will help the buyer understand the terms and conditions of the mortgage and make the purchasing process efficient and easier. 

Spider-Man 2

Developer: Insomniac Games
Publisher: Sony Interactive Entertainment
Console: PlayStation 5
Rating: 5/5

Company profile

Name: Yabi by Souqalmal 

Started: May 2022, launched June 2023

Founder: Ambareen Musa

Based: Dubai 

Sector: FinTech 

Initial investment: undisclosed but soon to be announced 

Number of staff: 12 

Investment stage: seed  

Investors: Shuaa Capital

How to come clean about financial infidelity
  • Be honest and transparent: It is always better to own up than be found out. Tell your partner everything they want to know. Show remorse. Inform them of the extent of the situation so they know what they are dealing with.
  • Work on yourself: Be honest with yourself and your partner and figure out why you did it. Don’t be ashamed to ask for professional help. 
  • Give it time: Like any breach of trust, it requires time to rebuild. So be consistent, communicate often and be patient with your partner and yourself.
  • Discuss your financial situation regularly: Ensure your spouse is involved in financial matters and decisions. Your ability to consistently follow through with what you say you are going to do when it comes to money can make all the difference in your partner’s willingness to trust you again.
  • Work on a plan to resolve the problem together: If there is a lot of debt, for example, create a budget and financial plan together and ensure your partner is fully informed, involved and supported. 

Carol Glynn, founder of Conscious Finance Coaching

RoboCop: Rogue City

Developer: Teyon
Publisher: Nacon
Console: PlayStation 5, Xbox Series X/S and PC
Rating: 3/5

States of Passion by Nihad Sirees,
Pushkin Press

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Company name: Revibe
Started: 2022
Founders: Hamza Iraqui and Abdessamad Ben Zakour
Based: UAE
Industry: Refurbished electronics
Funds raised so far: $10m
Investors: Flat6Labs, Resonance and various others

Common OCD symptoms and how they manifest

Checking: the obsession or thoughts focus on some harm coming from things not being as they should, which usually centre around the theme of safety. For example, the obsession is “the building will burn down”, therefore the compulsion is checking that the oven is switched off.

Contamination: the obsession is focused on the presence of germs, dirt or harmful bacteria and how this will impact the person and/or their loved ones. For example, the obsession is “the floor is dirty; me and my family will get sick and die”, the compulsion is repetitive cleaning.

Orderliness: the obsession is a fear of sitting with uncomfortable feelings, or to prevent harm coming to oneself or others. Objectively there appears to be no logical link between the obsession and compulsion. For example,” I won’t feel right if the jars aren’t lined up” or “harm will come to my family if I don’t line up all the jars”, so the compulsion is therefore lining up the jars.

Intrusive thoughts: the intrusive thought is usually highly distressing and repetitive. Common examples may include thoughts of perpetrating violence towards others, harming others, or questions over one’s character or deeds, usually in conflict with the person’s true values. An example would be: “I think I might hurt my family”, which in turn leads to the compulsion of avoiding social gatherings.

Hoarding: the intrusive thought is the overvaluing of objects or possessions, while the compulsion is stashing or hoarding these items and refusing to let them go. For example, “this newspaper may come in useful one day”, therefore, the compulsion is hoarding newspapers instead of discarding them the next day.

Source: Dr Robert Chandler, clinical psychologist at Lighthouse Arabia

COMPANY PROFILE

Company: Eco Way
Started: December 2023
Founder: Ivan Kroshnyi
Based: Dubai, UAE
Industry: Electric vehicles
Investors: Bootstrapped with undisclosed funding. Looking to raise funds from outside

COMPANY PROFILE

Name: SmartCrowd
Started: 2018
Founder: Siddiq Farid and Musfique Ahmed
Based: Dubai
Sector: FinTech / PropTech
Initial investment: $650,000
Current number of staff: 35
Investment stage: Series A
Investors: Various institutional investors and notable angel investors (500 MENA, Shurooq, Mada, Seedstar, Tricap)

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John Cena pinned Triple H in a singles match

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Seth Rollins retains the Intercontinental title against The Miz, Finn Balor and Samoa Joe

AJ Styles remains WWE World Heavyweight champion after he and Shinsuke Nakamura are both counted out

The Undertaker beats Rusev in a casket match

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Braun Strowman won the 50-man Royal Rumble by eliminating Big Cass last

Quick facts on cancer
  • Cancer is the second-leading cause of death worldwide, after cardiovascular diseases 
  • About one in five men and one in six women will develop cancer in their lifetime 
  • By 2040, global cancer cases are on track to reach 30 million 
  • 70 per cent of cancer deaths occur in low and middle-income countries 
  • This rate is expected to increase to 75 per cent by 2030 
  • At least one third of common cancers are preventable 
  • Genetic mutations play a role in 5 per cent to 10 per cent of cancers 
  • Up to 3.7 million lives could be saved annually by implementing the right health
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  • The total annual economic cost of cancer is $1.16 trillion

 

COMPANY PROFILE

Founder: Hani Abu Ghazaleh
Based: Abu Dhabi, with an office in Montreal
Founded: 2018
Sector: Virtual Reality
Investment raised: $1.2 million, and nearing close of $5 million new funding round
Number of employees: 12

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Director: Nikhil Nagesh Bhat

Starring: Lakshya, Tanya Maniktala, Ashish Vidyarthi, Harsh Chhaya, Raghav Juyal

Rating: 4.5/5

COMPANY PROFILE

Company: Educatly
Started: 2020
Based: UAE
Founders: Mohmmed El Sonbaty, Joan Manuel and Abdelrahman Ayman
Industry: Education technology
Funding size: $2 million
Investors: Enterprise Ireland, Egypt venture, Plus VC, HBAN, Falak Startups

ACC T20 Women’s Championship

UAE fixtures
Friday, June 17 v Oman
Saturday, June 18 v Singapore
Monday, June 20 v Malaysia
Wednesday, June 22 v Qatar
Friday, June 24, semi-final
Saturday, June 25, final

UAE squad: Chaya Mughal (captain), Esha Oza, Indhuja Nandakumar, Kavisha Kumari, Khushi Sharma, Lavanya Keny, Priyanjali Jain, Rithika Rajith, Samaira Dharnidharka, Sanchin Singh, Siya Gokhale, Suraksha Kotte, Theertha Satish, Vaishnave Mahesh

Libya's Gold

UN Panel of Experts found regime secretly sold a fifth of the country's gold reserves.

The panel’s 2017 report followed a trail to West Africa where large sums of cash and gold were hidden by Abdullah Al Senussi, Qaddafi’s former intelligence chief, in 2011.

Cases filled with cash that was said to amount to $560m in 100 dollar notes, that was kept by a group of Libyans in Ouagadougou, Burkina Faso.

A second stash was said to have been held in Accra, Ghana, inside boxes at the local offices of an international human rights organisation based in France.

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ULTRA PROCESSED FOODS

- Carbonated drinks, sweet or savoury packaged snacks, confectionery, mass-produced packaged breads and buns 

- Margarines and spreads; cookies, biscuits, pastries, cakes, and cake mixes, breakfast cereals, cereal and energy bars

- Energy drinks, milk drinks, fruit yoghurts and fruit drinks, cocoa drinks, meat and chicken extracts and instant sauces

- Infant formulas and follow-on milks, health and slimming products such as powdered or fortified meal and dish substitutes

- Many ready-to-heat products including pre-prepared pies and pasta and pizza dishes, poultry and fish nuggets and sticks, sausages, burgers, hot dogs, and other reconstituted meat products, powdered and packaged instant soups, noodles and desserts

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If you go...

Etihad Airways flies from Abu Dhabi to Kuala Lumpur, from about Dh3,600. Air Asia currently flies from Kuala Lumpur to Terengganu, with Berjaya Hotels & Resorts planning to launch direct chartered flights to Redang Island in the near future. Rooms at The Taaras Beach and Spa Resort start from 680RM (Dh597).


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