Arundhati Roy, Amy Goodman, Nermeen Shaikh: Is India on a Totalitarian Path? (Democracy Now)
Voting has begun in India in the largest election the world has ever seen. About 815 million Indians are eligible to vote over the next five weeks. The number of voters in India is more than two-and-a-half times the entire population of the United States. The election will take place in nine phases at over 900,000 polling stations across India. Results will be known on May 16th.
Pre-election polls indicate Narendra Modi will likely become India’s next prime minister. Modi is the leader of the BJP, a Hindu nationalist party. He … served as the chief minister of Gujarat, where one of India’s worst anti-Muslim riots occurred in 2002 that left at least a thousand people dead.
Valentin Mândrăşescu: Russia prepares to attack the petrodollar (Voice of Russia)
The US dollar’s position as the base currency for global energy trading gives the US a number of unfair advantages. It seems that Moscow is ready to take those advantages away.
Peter Koenig: Russia’s Petro-Ruble Challenges US Dollar Hegemony. China Seeks Development of Eurasian Trade (Global Research)
Russia has just dropped another bombshell, announcing not only the de-coupling of its trade from the dollar, but also that its hydrocarbon trade will in the future be carried out in rubles and local currencies of its trading partners – no longer in dollars.
Seymour M. Hersh: The Red Line and the Rat Line: Obama, Erdoğan and the Syrian rebels (London Review of Books)
In 2011 Barack Obama led an allied military intervention in Libya without consulting the US Congress. Last August, after the sarin attack on the Damascus suburb of Ghouta, he was ready to launch an allied air strike, this time to punish the Syrian government for allegedly crossing the ‘red line’ he had set in 2012 on the use of chemical weapons. Then with less than two days to go before the planned strike, he announced that he would seek congressional approval for the intervention. The strike was postponed as Congress prepared for hearings, and subsequently cancelled when Obama accepted Assad’s offer to relinquish his chemical arsenal in a deal brokered by Russia. Why did Obama delay and then relent on Syria when he was not shy about rushing into Libya?
Obama’s change of mind had its origins at Porton Down, the defence laboratory in Wiltshire. British intelligence had obtained a sample of the sarin used in the 21 August attack and analysis demonstrated that the gas used didn’t match the batches known to exist in the Syrian army’s chemical weapons arsenal.
(cf. this article by Hersh from December 2013: Whose sarin? [London Review of Books])
Seymour Hersh, Amy Goodman: Sy Hersh Reveals Potential Turkish Role in Syria Chemical Strike That Almost Sparked U.S. Bombing (Democracy Now)
Charles Andrews: Thomas Piketty’s Capital in the Twenty-First Century: Its Uses and Limits (Monthly Review)
Capital in the Twenty-First Century by Thomas Piketty has caused a stir, which it deserves. Capital 21, as we will abbreviate the title, grapples with a prominent current issue: outrageously unequal incomes and wealth.
Paul Krugman: Why We’re in a New Gilded Age (New Yorker)
John Cassidy: Forces of divergence: Is surging inequality endemic to capitalism? (New Yorker)
[I]n the United States in 2010 …, the richest ten per cent of households owned seventy per cent of all the country’s wealth (a good surrogate for “capital”), and the top one per cent of households owned thirty-five per cent of the wealth. By contrast, the bottom half of households owned just five per cent. When income generated by capital grows rapidly, the richest families benefit disproportionately…
Piketty takes some well-aimed shots at economists who seek to obfuscate this reality. “In studying the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries it is possible to think that the evolution of prices and wages, or incomes and wealth, obeys an autonomous economic logic having little or nothing to do with the logic of politics or culture,” he writes. “When one studies the twentieth century, however, such an illusion falls apart immediately. A quick glance at the curves describing income and wealth inequality or the capital/income ratio is enough to show that politics is ubiquitous and that economic and political changes are inextricably intertwined and must be studied together.”
Andrew Hussey: Occupy was right: capitalism has failed the world (Guardian)
One of the slogans of the 2011 Occupy protests was ‘capitalism isn’t working’. Now, in an epic, groundbreaking new book, French economist Thomas Piketty explains why they’re right.
Will Hutton: Capitalism simply isn’t working and here are the reasons why (Guardian)
Jason Leopold: Revealed: Senate report contains new details on CIA black sites (AlJazeera)
A Senate Intelligence Committee report provides the first official confirmation that the CIA secretly operated a black site prison out of Guantánamo Bay, two U.S. officials who have read portions of the report have told Al Jazeera.
The officials — who spoke on condition of anonymity because the 6,600-page report on the CIA’s detention and interrogation program remains classified — said top-secret agency documents reveal that at least 10 high-value targets were secretly held and interrogated at Guantánamo’s Camp Echo at various times from late 2003 to 2004. They were then flown to Rabat, Morocco, before being officially sent to the U.S. military’s detention facility at Guantánamo in September 2006.