Andrew Levine: Saving the World Obama-Style (CounterPunch)
When it comes to spying and killing, Barack Obama is Mr. Malevolent.
But every now and then, he gets a notion to go high-minded. Words come first. Sometimes he backs up his words with gestures; sometimes he even puts people on the case – feckless people like John Kerry.
It never comes to anything however, and sooner or later (usually sooner), the notion passes.
He and Kerry have been at it for some time now with the Israel-Palestine “peace process,” and Obama is gearing up to take on inequality next.
The pattern reveals a lot about the Obama presidency and about the man.
Gregory Elich: Korean Conspiracy Trial (CounterPunch)
It made worldwide news when Lee Seok-ki, representative in the South Korean National Assembly, was arrested on charges of treason. South Korea’s National Intelligence Service (NIS) fed media outlets with a transcript of a meeting that Lee attended, which appeared to reveal plans by the Unified Progressive Party to take up arms against the South Korean government in the event of war with the north.
The release of the transcript came at the height of national protests against interference by the NIS in the national election of December 2012. The Unified Progressive Party (UPP) was at the forefront of the anti-NIS demonstrations, and the furor that resulted over the accusations against Lee and the UPP succeeded in stifling mass protests.
John Feffer: Kim the Third (Foreign Policy in Focus)
No one performs Shakespeare in the theaters of Pyongyang. Instead, he is enacted in the corridors of power.
John Roberts: Cambodian security forces shoot striking garment workers (World Socialist Web Site)
At least four workers have been shot dead, after Cambodian military police opened fire yesterday on striking workers blocking the road near the Canadia Industrial Park in the southern suburbs of the capital Phnom Penh. The national strike for higher pay involving tens of thousands of garment workers began on December 24.
Tony Cartalucci: More Than Meets the Eye Behind Cambodia’s Growing Unrest (Global Research / AltThaiNews)
The Cambodian people undoubtedly face a tyrannical regime, but US-backed opposition will bring nation only deeper into despair and destitution.
Protests growing in both Thailand and neighboring Cambodia may at first look very similar. Both are against supposedly “elected governments,” but both nations are clearly run by illegitimate dictatorships. Both nations have streets filled with growing numbers of dissatisfied people who are increasingly putting pressure on their respective regimes, lead by one or several opposition parties. And both seek reformed elections.
However, one is heavily backed by the United States’ faux-democracy promoters and offers only further despair and destitution, while the other is heavily opposed by the US and other Western interests, but if successful will restore order to a nation hindered by political instability for years.
Harriet Sherwood: Major US academic body backs boycott of Israeli educational institutions (Guardian)
A prestigious US academic body has joined a growing movement to boycott Israel in protest at its treatment of Palestinians, in a move both welcomed and condemned in a bitterly divisive international arena.
The American Studies Association (ASA), which has more than 5,000 members, is the most significant US academic organisation to back a boycott of Israeli educational institutions following a two-thirds majority vote. Around a quarter of members took part in the ballot.
Why boycott Israeli academic institutions?
Israeli academic institutions function as a central part of a system that has denied Palestinians their basic rights. Palestinian students face ongoing discrimination, including the suppression of Palestinian cultural events, and there is sanctioning and ongoing surveillance of Palestinian students and faculty who protest Israeli policies. Israeli universities have been a direct party to the annexation of Palestinian land. Armed soldiers patrol Israeli university campuses, and some have been trained at Israeli universities in techniques to suppress protestors.
Omar Barghouti: On Academic Freedom and the BDS Movement (Nation)
An effective isolation of Israeli academic institutions will undoubtedly curtail some privileges that Israeli scholars take for granted, like generous travel subsidies, but that has no bearing on their academic freedom.
Judith Butler: Academic Freedom and the ASA’s Boycott of Israel (Nation)
Those who may well acknowledge the justice of such claims may still object to the boycott on the grounds that it denies, potentially or actually, the academic freedom of Israeli citizens. But the BDS movement has taken an explicit stand against any discrimination on the basis of citizenship. And a significant number of Israeli academics have themselves joined the movement…
The astonishing fact remains that no major Israeli university or cultural institution has actively opposed the occupation.
That said, American Studies scholars can continue important collaborative work with Israeli filmmakers, sociologists, philosophers, archaeologists or artists outside of Israel. Indeed, their access to independent funding and to international mobility is still substantial. Sadly, the same cannot be said about Palestinian academics whose travel papers and rights to mobility are currently severely restricted…
Let us remember that academic freedom can be exercised only if there is a freedom to speak about political views, to articulate and defend the views we have, but also if there is a freedom to travel, not just from university to university as US academics are used to doing, but also from one’s home to the university. An enormous number of Palestinian university students are put in jail under conditions of indefinite detention because of having espoused political views that are considered unacceptable or because such views were attributed to them without cause. During periods of heightened security control, the periodic shutdowns of Palestinian universities have made it nearly impossible to complete a full semester for most Palestinian students.
Rania Khalek: Does The Nation have a problem with Palestinians? (Electronic Intifada)
Ali Abunimah: Stephen Hawking’s support for the boycott of Israel is a turning point (Guardian)
Boycotting Israel as a stance for justice is going mainstream – Israelis can no longer pretend theirs is in an enlightened country.
Ali Abunimah: Under pressure, PLO tries to limit damage from Abbas attack on Israel boycott (Electronic Intifada)
Rocked by criticism from Palestinian and international activists, the Palestinian Authority (PA) has backed away from comments made by its de facto leader Mahmoud Abbas repudiating the boycott, divestment and sanctions (BDS) movement…
Last year, Abbas stoked widespread outrage among Palestinians when he told Israeli television that he renounced the right of Palestinian refugees to return to their homes.
John Pilger: Mandela’s gone, but apartheid lives in Australia (Green Left Weekly)
In 2008, Prime Minister Kevin Rudd apologised … Older Aboriginal people were grateful; they believed that Australia’s first people – the most enduring human presence on earth – might finally receive the justice and recognition they had been denied for 220 years.
What few of them heard was the postscript to Rudd’s apology. “I want to be blunt about this,” he said. “There will be no compensation.”
That 100,000 people deeply wronged and scarred by vicious racism – the product of a form of the eugenics movement with its links to fascism – would be given no opportunity to materially restore their lives was shocking, though not surprising. …
When the Labor government in the 1980s promised “full restitution” and land rights, the powerful mining lobby went on the attack, spending millions campaigning on the theme that “the blacks” would “take over your beaches and barbies”. The government capitulated, even though the lie was farcical; Aboriginal people comprise barely 3% of the Australian population.
Today, Aboriginal children are again being stolen from their families. The bureaucratic words are “removed” for “child protection”. By July 2012, there were 13,299 Aboriginal children in institutions or handed over to white families. Today, the theft of these children is now higher than at any time during the last century…
The incarceration of black Australians here is eight times that of black South Africans during the last decade of apartheid.