Europe | USA | Israel/Palestine

Glenn Greenwald: Growing Far-Right Nationalistic Movements Are Dangerously Anti-Muslim — and Pro-Israel (Intercept)

The specter of a growing far-right nationalism anywhere, but particularly in Central Europe, immediately — and for good and obvious reasons — raises fears of an anti-Semitism revival. But at least thus far, the leaders of most of these nationalistic parties — increasingly inspired and fueled by one another’s success — have showcased dangerous animosity toward Muslims, accompanied by strong policy support for Israel and a rhetorical repudiation of anti-Semitism…
Austria is the latest example of a far-right xenophobic party on the verge of obtaining what was, until quite recently, unthinkable power… Hofer demagogues animosity toward Muslims in all the standard ways: equating migrants with “jihadists,” warning of the “Islamification” of Europe, and pronouncing that “Islam is not a part of Austria.”
But not only does Hofer repudiate all anti-Semitism and insist it has no place in his party — he made news earlier this year by calling for the demolition of Hitler’s childhood home and his party sponsored “a New Anti-Semitism Conference” starring the Israeli spy who captured Adolf Eichmann — but the Freedom Party has, in the words of an expert cited by the NYT, “made it part of their strategy to draw closer to Israel.”…
Israeli officials have noticed the pro-Israel bent of Hofer’s posture and some have returned the sentiments of support. “They are one of the most pro-Israel parties in Europe,” proclaimed former Knesset member Michael Kleiner …
When Donald Trump named Steve Bannon as his White House chief strategist, some American Jewish groups (such as the Anti-Defamation League) objected by pointing to his flirtation with if not outright endorsement of anti-Semitic themes, but the most important U.S. group — AIPAC — has to this day not uttered a public word about Bannon.

Pamela Duncan: Europeans greatly overestimate Muslim population, poll shows (Guardian)

The average French estimate was that 31% of the population was Muslim – almost one in three residents. According to Pew Research, France’s Muslim population actually stood at 7.5% in 2010, or one in 13 people…
British respondents put the current Muslim population at 15%, three times the 2010 figure… In the US the average estimate was Muslims accounted for one in six people, whereas Pew put the actual figure at one in 100.

Micah Lee, Margot Williams: Drowning in information: NSA revelations from 262 spy documents (Intercept)

A national intelligence officer gave a top-secret “issue seminar” to NSA staff on the question of “where political action fades into terrorism,” according to a seminar announcement published in June 2004. The announcement suggested that the line between “legitimate political activity” and “activity that is the precursor to, or supportive of, terrorism” is fuzzy. The course used the Vienna-based organization Anti-Imperialist Camp as a case study, describing it as “ostensibly a political organization” but noting that “its many ties to terrorist organizations — and its attempts to collaborate with Muslim extremists — raise questions about where political action fades into terrorism.” No further details were given to substantiate the alleged ties; the group’s website remains online. A spokesperson for the group, Wilhelm Langthaler, told The Intercept that the group was targeted for such accusations for political reasons, including its opposition to the war in Iraq and “our public support for the resistance against occupation which we have compared with the antifascist resistance against German occupation.”

Julian Borger: Chinese warship seizes US underwater drone in international waters (Guardian)

The Chinese navy has seized an underwater drone in plain sight of the American sailors who had deployed it in international waters, in a seemingly brazen message to the incoming Trump administration.
According to a US defence official, the unmanned glider had come to the surface of the water in the South China Sea and was about to be retrieved by the USNS Bowditch, an oceanographic and surveillance ship, when a Chinese naval vessel that had been shadowing the Bowditch put a small boat in the water…
As China develops a strategic submarine fleet, with the potential to carry nuclear missiles out into the Pacific Ocean, the US has built up a monitoring network designed to spot Chinese submarines as they leave their bases. Drones are key to the network, and there is a race under way between major naval powers to develop drones that can work together in swarms and “see” long distances through the water. Underwater gliders are drones that can stay underwater on the lookout for submarines for long periods of time.

AP: China and US in talks over seized drone, officials say (Guardian)

The device was being operated by civilian contractors to conduct oceanic research, according to the Pentagon.

AP: Philippines to ‘set aside’ South China Sea tribunal ruling to avoid imposing on Beijing (Guardian)

The Philippine president has said he would “set aside” a ruling by an international arbitration tribunal that invalidated Beijing’s claims to most of the South China Sea, because he doesn’t want to impose on China.
“In the play of politics, now, I will set aside the arbitral ruling. I will not impose anything on China,” Rodrigo Duterte said at a news conference on Saturday.

Tom Phillips: Images show ‘significant’ Chinese weapons systems in South China Sea (Guardian)

China appears to have positioned “significant” weapons systems, including anti-aircraft and anti-missile systems, on all seven of the artificial islands it has built in the South China Sea, despite vowing it had no intention of militarising the archipelago, a US thinktank has claimed.

Xinhua: China says deployment of defensive facilities on South China Sea islands legitimate (Global Times)
Tom Phillips: ‘Friends forever’? China wary of Rex Tillerson wooing away Russia (Guardian)

Rex Tillerson’s controversial nomination as secretary of state has delighted Moscow where the Texan oilman has deep and long-standing ties. Donald Trump’s choice of the ExxonMobil chief was “100% good news” for Vladimir Putin, one opposition politician claimed.
But in Beijing, already reeling from Trump’s early forays into foreign policy, the move has inspired no such celebration, instead fuelling fears that the president-elect’s courtship of the Kremlin could be part of a bold strategic bid to isolate China.

John Pilger: The Coming War on China (movie; RT)

A nuclear war between the United States and China is not only imaginable but a current ‘contingency’, says the Pentagon. This film by acclaimed filmmaker John Pilger’s is both a warning and an inspiring story of resistance.
The Coming War on China, filmed over two years across five potential flashpoints in Asia and the Pacific, reveals the build-up to war on more than 400 US military bases that encircle China in a ‘perfect noose’.
Using rare archive and remarkable interviews with witnesses, Pilger’s film discloses America’s secret history in the region – the destruction wrought by the equivalent of one Hiroshima every day for 12 years, and the top secret ‘Project 4.1’ that made guinea pigs of the population of the Marshall Islands.

Matthew Rosenberg: Trump Chooses Hard-Liner as Ambassador to Israel (New York Times)

President-elect Donald J. Trump on Thursday named David M. Friedman, a bankruptcy lawyer aligned with the Israeli far right, as his nominee for ambassador to Israel, elevating a campaign adviser who has questioned the need for a two-state solution and has likened left-leaning Jews in America to the Jews who aided the Nazis in the Holocaust.

Peter Beaumont, Julian Borger: Donald Trump’s Israel ambassador is hardline pro-settler lawyer (Guardian)

Donald Trump has named as his ambassador to Israel a pro-settler lawyer who has described some US Jews as worse than concentration camp prisoner-guards.
David Friedman, a bankruptcy lawyer who represented the president-elect over his failing hotels in Atlantic City, served Trump’s advisory team on the Middle East. He has set out a number of hardline positions on Israeli-Palestinian relations, including fervent opposition to the two-state solution and strong support for an undivided Jerusalem as Israel’s capital.
He has called President Barack Obama an antisemite and suggested that US Jews who oppose the Israeli occupation of the West Bank are worse than kapos, Nazi-era prisoners who served as concentration camp guards…
An indication of how Friedman views Israel came in a 16-point action plan he issued with another Trump adviser in November.

Chemi Shalev: David Friedman, Trump’s Radical-right Ambassador, Makes Netanyahu Look Like a J Street Lefty (Haaretz ~ Google News)

By Israeli standards, Donald Trump’s designated Ambassador to Israel, David Friedman, is an extreme right-winger. He might find a place in the settler movement or with Naftali Bennett’s Habayit Hayehudi Party, but only on its right-wing fringes. He makes Benjamin Netanyahu seem like a left-wing defeatist. From where Friedman stands, most Israelis, never mind most American Jews, are more or less traitors.

David Schraub: The Grotesque anti-Semitic Turn of David Friedman, Trump’s Pick for Israel Ambassador (Haaretz)

You don’t even have to be a J Street fan to consider calling them ‘Kapos,’ as David Friedman has done, as disqualifying for such a symbolic post for the U.S. Jewish community…
Friedman has called Barack Obama an “anti-Semite” and contended that J Streeters are “far worse than Kapos.” He also asserted, in the course of advocating “allegiance” standards for Israel’s Muslim citizens, that “In the United States, advocating to overthrow the government by force or violence can get you life in prison” (No, it can’t). And of course, he’s an opponent of the two-state solution.

France orders clear labeling of goods from Israeli settlements (RT)

The French guidelines state that in accordance with Commission rules adopted in November 2015, importers must mark the precise place from which the goods originate and not mark them as products of Israel.
Regulations apply to products that originate in the West Bank, East Jerusalem and the Golan Heights, which are considered occupied territories under international law.
French authorities said that clearly marking the packaging is necessary to not mislead consumers. Goods originating from Palestinian territories must be marked for instance as originating from “the West Bank”, and then, in parenthesis, the package must also be labeled that it comes from “an Israeli settlement.”

Peter Walker: UK adopts antisemitism definition to combat hate crime against Jews (Guardian)
Letter (Guardian)

The new definition has nothing to do with opposing antisemitism, it is merely designed to silence public debate on Israel’s crimes against the Palestinians. Antisemitic incidents comprise about 2% of all hate crime. Why then the concentration on antisemitism and not on Islamophobia, which is far more widespread? The suspicion must be that the real concern is not with antisemitism but with Britain’s support for Israel…
We agree that it is antisemitic to associate Jews with the actions of the Israeli state. Unfortunately this is precisely what the International Holocaust Remembrance Alliance’s definition will achieve through perpetuating the stereotype that all Jews support the Israeli state. The IHRA will strengthen not weaken antisemitism. There is a very simple definition of antisemitism from Oxford University’s Brian Klug. Antisemitism is “a form of hostility towards Jews as ‘Jews’.” The IHRA definition smuggles in anti-Zionism, in the guise of antisemitism, as a means of protecting the Israeli state and thus western foreign policy.

Israelis, Palestinians Among Most Enthusiastic Supporters of Torture, Red Cross Survey Says (Haaretz)

Only in Israel, Nigeria and the United States do more people advocate torture of an enemy combatant than oppose such behavior, according to a new survey by the International Red Cross.

Brazil | Austria | Greece | Myanmar | Poland | Israel

Glenn Greenwald: Brazil’s Democracy to Suffer Grievous Blow as Unelectable, Corrupt Neoliberal Is Installed. (Intercept)

In 2002, Brazil’s left-of-center Workers’ Party (PT) ascended to the presidency when Lula da Silva won in a landslide over the candidate of the center-right PSDB party (throughout 2002, “markets” were indignant at the mere prospect of PT’s victory). The PT remained in power when Lula, in 2006, was re-elected in another landslide against a different PSDB candidate. PT’s enemies thought they had their chance to get rid of PT in 2010, when Lula was barred by term limits from running again, but their hopes were crushed when Lula’s handpicked successor, the previously unknown Dilma Rousseff, won by 12 points over the same PSDB candidate who lost to Lula in 2002. In 2014, PT’s enemies poured huge amounts of money and resources into defeating her, believing that she was vulnerable and they had finally found a star PSDB candidate, but they lost again, this time narrowly, as Dilma was re-elected with 54 million votes.
In sum, PT has won four straight national elections — the last one occurring just 18 months ago. Its opponents have vigorously tried — and failed — to defeat it at the ballot box, largely due to PT’s support among Brazil’s poor and working classes.

Glenn Greenwald, Andrew Fishman, David Miranda: New Political Earthquake in Brazil: Is It Now Time for Media Outlets to Call This a “Coup”? (Intercept)

Brazil today awoke to stunning news of secret, genuinely shocking conversations involving a key minister in Brazil’s newly installed government, which shine a bright light on the actual motives and participants driving the impeachment of the country’s democratically elected president, Dilma Rousseff. The transcripts were published by the country’s largest newspaper, Folha de São Paulo, and reveal secret conversations that took place in March, just weeks before the impeachment vote in the lower house was held. They show explicit plotting between the new planning minister (then-senator), Romero Jucá, and former oil executive Sergio Machado — both of whom are formal targets of the “Car Wash” corruption investigation — as they agree that removing Dilma is the only means for ending the corruption investigation. The conversations also include discussions of the important role played in Dilma’s removal by the most powerful national institutions, including — most importantly — Brazil’s military leaders.

Jonathan Watts: Brazil minister ousted after secret tape reveals plot to topple President Rousseff (Guardian)

Planning minister Romero Jucá was recorded saying ‘We have to change the government’ as the only means to stop a sweeping corruption investigation

Rubens Valente: Em diálogos gravados, Jucá fala em pacto para deter avanço da Lava Jato (Folha de S. Paolo)
Temer é recebido no Senado com vaias e gritos de “golpista” (Vermelho)

Kate Connolly, Jon Henley: Far-right candidate narrowly defeated in Austrian presidential election (Guardian)

A leftwing independent candidate has narrowly prevented Austria from becoming the first EU country to elect a far-right head of state, squeaking home by a tiny margin as the country’s new president after a knife-edge contest ended with his opponent conceding defeat.
Alexander Van der Bellen, a 72-year-old retired economics professor backed by the Austrian Green party, defeated his far-right opponent Norbert Hofer only after 700,000 postal ballots – about 10% of the available votes – were taken into account.

Simon Tisdall: Far right surge in Austria signals end of centrist politics-as-usual (Guardian)

If ostracism is not on the cards then outright opposition or direct engagement seem to be the remaining alternatives

Sharmini Peries, Michael Hudson: The Financial Invasion of Greece (Real News Network)

IMF’s concern about Greek debt is bogus, this is full scale financial war, forcing Greece give up ports, pensions, properties and much more

Stavros Mavroudeas: Blatant Hypocrisy: the Latest Late-Night Bailout of Greece (CounterpUnch)

The new late night deal in the Eurogroup on the new bailout for Greece is another blatant hypocrisy by the dominant European Union powers, their partner-cum-competitor IMF (aka the US) and the Greek establishment (now represented by the SYRIZA government).
The new deal is an uneasy compromise subject to a continuing tug-of-war between the US (through its proxy, the IMF) and the EU.
Together, the EU and the US obliged the now crumbling (because of people’s anger) SYRIZA government to capitulate to the troika austerity policies as encapsulated in the now three Economic Adjustment Programs for Greece. These programs aggravated the depression of the Greek economy, caused a rampant immiserisation of the Greek people and expanded the control of Western capitals on the Greek economy.

Poppy McPherson: ‘No Muslims allowed’: how nationalism is rising in Aung San Suu Kyi’s Myanmar (Guardian)

Concerns grow that Buddhist extremism may flourish unless country’s new democratic leaders counter discrimination against minorities…
The few public comments Suu Kyi’s National League for Democracy has given on the issue have not been encouraging.
Suu Kyi reportedly instructed the new US ambassador not to use the term Rohingya…
The fact that nationalist rhetoric has gone unchallenged, and has in some cases been echoed, by the new government has left some wondering what place the country’s minorities have in its future.

Jon Emont: Does Nobel Prize Winner Aung San Suu Kyi Want To Push Her Country’s Muslims Into the Sea? (Tablet)

In the run-up to the vote, Suu Kyi’s NLD purged its candidate roster of all Muslim candidates, including non-Rohingya Muslim Burmese who were legally allowed to participate, in what was widely interpreted as an attempt to neutralize hardline Buddhist and nationalist critics of her party…
U Kyaw Hla Aung, a Rohingya lawyer and prominent dissident who has spent years in and out of prison for defending Rohingya rights and currently lives in a humble house in Thet Key Pyin camp, said the situation facing the Rohingya “is a kind of ethnic cleansing.”…
There are about 1.1 million Rohingya living in Myanmar, which makes them roughly 2 percent of the country’s population. Myanmar is ethnically heterogeneous but overwhelmingly Buddhist, and the Muslim Rohingya, descendants of traders who have lived in Rakhine state, on the border with Bangladesh, for centuries, are labeled as Bengalis by the state, regardless of how many generations their families have resided in Myanmar. State discrimination against the Rohingya was enshrined in the Burmese citizenship law of 1982, which did not recognize Rohingya as an indigenous race to Myanmar, rendering the majority of Rohingya stateless…
The U.N. Refugee Agency estimates that around 50,000 Rohingya have fled Myanmar since January 2014…
In a 2013 interview with the BBC, Suu Kyi categorically denied that ethnic cleansing was taking place in Rohingya and attempted to explain the fear that many Burmese Buddhists brought against Muslims. “There is a perception that Muslim power, that global Muslim power, is very great. And certainly that is the perception in many parts of the world and in our country too.”

So Aung San Suu Kyi’s position is nothing new:
Sara Perria: Why is Aung San Suu Kyi silent on the plight of the Rohingya people? (Guardian)

Burma’s opposition leader appears to be cowed by her need to dampen ethnic tensions and win votes from an electorate in the thrall of Islamophobia

NATO arrests Mateusz Piskorski, the Polish Leader of the Opposition | NATO zatrzymało lidera polskiej opozycji Mateusza Piskorskiego (Voltaire)
Witch Hunt On? Poland Gets Its 1st Political Prisoner (Sputnik)

Mateusz Piskorski, the leader of the Zmiana (Change) party was arrested by officers from Poland’s Interior Defense Agency (ABW) after they raided his Warsaw home, seizing computers and documents. The homes of several other party members were also searched.
Piskorski, known for his pro-Russian views, was charged with spying for “third countries” as pro-government media accused him of working for Russian and Chinese intelligence services…
Piskorski’s arrest followed his warning that the Polish government was “cleaning” the political space of the country of unwanted elements in the run-up to a NATO summit to be held in Warsaw on July 8 and 9.

Mateusz Piskorski: The war against historical memory is NATO’s long-term campaign (Voltaire)

Ariel Noyola Rodríguez: The petroyuan is the big bet of Russia and China | Россия и Китай ставят на нефтеюань по-крупному (Voltaire)

After the economic sanctions that the United States and the European Union imposed against Russia, Moscow and Beijing put together an imposing energetic team that has radically transformed the world oil market. In addition to increasing their interchange of hydrocarbons exponentially, both oriental powers have decided to put an end to the domination of the dollar in fixing the prices of the black gold. The petroyuan is the instrument of payment of strategic character that promises to facilitate the transition to a multipolar monetary system, a system that takes various currencies into account and reflects the correlation of forces in the current world order.

Israelis Will Pay Dearly for Their Prime Minister’s Reckless Appointment (Haaretz)

It’s hard to imagine Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu making a more reckless and irresponsible decision than appointing Avigdor Lieberman defense minister.
For the second time since the last election Netanyahu had to choose between the Zionist Union and the extreme right, and once again he chose to veer right and establish an ideological, racist coalition that aims to entrench the occupation, expand the settlements in the territories, oppress the Arab minority and undermine Israeli democracy.

Gideon Levy: With Lieberman as Defense Minister, Israelis Should Head for the Bomb Shelters (Haaretz; also via Google News)

The State of Israel in the hands of someone who could destroy it: a man who threatened to bomb the Aswan Dam and sees Israel’s Arab citizens as the enemy…
For the first time in Israeli history, fascism is a clear and possibly present danger. True, Menachem Begin’s election as prime minister evoked similar fears, as did the appointment of Ariel Sharon as defense minister. But those were other times, when Israeli society still had immune mechanisms, a system of checks and balances. They were eliminated long ago. Now the state is in the hands of someone who could destroy it.

Jonathan Lis: Outgoing Defense Minister Ya’alon: Extremists Have Taken Over Israel (Haaretz)
Israel Has Been Infected by the Seeds of Fascism, Says ex-Prime Minister Ehud Barak (Haaretz)
A Death Penalty Only for Palestinians (Haaretz)

There are so many reasons to oppose capital punishment. But Avigdor Lieberman’s attempt to adopt it is particularly odious.

Glenn Greenwald: Interview With BDS Co-Founder Omar Barghouti: Banned by Israel From Traveling, Threatened With Worse (Intercept)

Anyone who purports to believe in free speech rights should be appalled by Israeli behavior.

TTIP | Philippines | USA | Britain | Korea | Israel/Palestine | Austria

Greenpeace Netherlands releases TTIP documents (Greenpeace)

Today Greenpeace Netherlands releases secret documents of the EU-US TTIP negotiations. On www.ttip-leaks.org the documents will be made available for everyone to read, because democracy needs transparency.

Andrew Griffin: TTIP leak could spell the end of controversial trade deal, say campaigners (Independent)

Hundreds of leaked pages from the controversial Transatlantic Trade and Investment Partnership (TTIP) show that the deal could be about to collapse, according to campaigners.
The huge leak – which gives the first full insight into the negotiations – shows that the relationship between Europe and the US are stronger than had been thought and that major divisions remain on some of the agreement’s most central provisions.
The talks have been held almost entirely in secret, and most information that is known in public has come out from unofficial leaks. But the new pages, leaked by Greenpeace, represent the first major look at how the highly confidential talks are progressing…
They indicate that the US is looking strongly to change regulation in Europe to lessen the protections on the environment, consumer rights and other positions that the EU affords to its citizens.

Arthur Neslen: Leaked TTIP documents cast doubt on EU-US trade deal (Guardian)

Jorgo Riss, the director of Greenpeace EU, said: “These leaked documents give us an unparalleled look at the scope of US demands to lower or circumvent EU protections for environment and public health as part of TTIP. The EU position is very bad, and the US position is terrible. The prospect of a TTIP compromising within that range is an awful one. The way is being cleared for a race to the bottom in environmental, consumer protection and public health standards.”
US proposals include an obligation on the EU to inform its industries of any planned regulations in advance, and to allow them the same input into EU regulatory processes as European firms.
American firms could influence the content of EU laws at several points along the regulatory line, including through a plethora of proposed technical working groups and committees.
“Before the EU could even pass a regulation, it would have to go through a gruelling impact assessment process in which the bloc would have to show interested US parties that no voluntary measures, or less exacting regulatory ones, were possible,” Riss said.

Leak Confirms Fears: TTIP Is Huge US Threat to EU’s Sovereignty (teleSUR)

The TTIP is possibly the greatest U.S. threat to EU’s sovereignty warned a U.K.-based NGO as leaked documents obtained by Corporate Europe Observatory and the British newspaper the Independent confirmed that United States corporate power could have big sway over laws in the European Union if the controversial Transatlantic Trade and Investment Partnership goes through.

TTIP: UK Parliament ‘would not be able to stop NHS sell-off if treaty is passed (Belfast Telegraph)

The UK Parliament may not have the power to stop or reverse the privatisation of the NHS if the Transatlantic Trade and Investment Partnership passed at EU level, Unite has warned…
Gail Cartmail, Unite assistant general secretary, said that it was “a scandal” that MPs may not have the democratic power to stop TTIP, which she said “threatens the irreversible sell-off of our NHS”.
“The House of Commons will have the power to delay the trade deal but it would only be a matter of time before TTIP eventually slips through,” Ms Cartmail said.

TTIP: The terrible truth (Morning Star)

Every Time we get a look at the details of EU-US trade deal TTIP and its implications we come away disgusted.
Unelected, unaccountable EU bureaucrats are desperate to keep the inner workings of the treaty under wraps for the simple reason that it will be bad for everyone except big business.
That the Department for Business, Innovation and Skills (BIS) has only commissioned a single risk assessment of TTIP — and only one part of it, three years ago — suggests that officials don’t want to leave a record spelling out the truths that they deny so vigorously in public.

Larry Brown: The TPP: A Corporate Bill of Rights (teleSUR)

What we aren’t told by our governments is that these so-called trade deals are really not very much about trade at all. They are international corporate constitutions, aimed at limiting the ability of our governments to control transnational corporate behavior: an international Corporate Bill of Rights.

Pepe Escobar: NATO on Trade, in Europe and Asia, is Doomed (RT)

Everything civil society across Europe – for at least three years – has been debating, and fearing, is confirmed; this is a sophisticated, toxic US-led corporate racket, a concerted assault across the spectrum, from the environment and animal welfare to labor rights and internet privacy. In a nutshell; it’s all about the US corporate galaxy pushing the EU to lower – or abase – a range of consumer protections…
Predictably, the lobbyist-infested European Commission (EC) fiercely defends TTIP, stressing it could benefit the EU’s economy by $150 billion a year, and raise car exports by 149 percent. Obviously don’t expect the EC to connect these “car exports” to a US-led GMO invasion of Europe.

Lorenz Niel Santos: As Filipinos vote for change, will they heed Aquino’s warning? (Asia times)

On Monday, Filipinos will choose their new leader. The question is will they listen to President Benigno Aquino III’s warning that a vote for frontrunner Davao City Mayor Rodrigo Duterte would mean a vote for the possible return of dictatorship.
Aquino has been campaigning against Duterte saying he is showing signs of being a dictator. His mother, the late President Corazon Aquino led the people power revolution in the 80s and toppled strongman Ferdinand Marcos.

Josh Hoxie: American Tax Havens: Elites Don’t Have to go to Panama to Hide Their Money–They’ve Got Delaware (CounterPunch)

Notably, few American names have been listed [in revelations from the Panama Papers] to date. That could change in revelations to come, but it also might not. States like Delaware offer very similar hands-off approaches to regulation that individuals and companies can exploit to hide their business dealings without going overseas.
One single address in Wilmington, for example — 1209 North Orange Street — is listed as the headquarters for 285,000 separate businesses exploiting Delaware’s lax laws. Indeed, both Hillary Clinton and Donald Trump have firms registered in that two-story office building.
In fact, the Tax Justice Network ranks the United States third in the world for financial secrecy, behind only Switzerland and Hong Kong. Panama is No.13.

Margaret Kimberley: Dishonoring Harriet Tubman (CounterPunch)

The history of American presidents is one long tale of criminality and Andrew Jackson was one of the worst of the lot. Jackson grew rich on his Tennessee plantation made profitable by the unpaid labor of 200 enslaved people…
Jackson was perhaps more responsible than any other person for driving indigenous people out of the southern states. The Indian Removal Act and the Trail of Tears were his handiwork…
With great fanfare the Treasury Department announced that new faces will appear on the $5, $10 and $20 notes. Currently George Washington, Abraham Lincoln, Alexander Hamilton, Andrew Jackson, Ulysses S. Grant and Benjamin Franklin appear on the almighty dollar in the most commonly used denominations. With the exception of Abraham Lincoln it is a list of slave holders. Some, like Washington and Jackson, owned hundreds of people, Franklin and Grant a few, but they were all participants in one of the worst evils of human history. Alexander Hamilton gets false credit from popular culture as an abolitionist although he held slaves too. At first the public were told that Tubman would replace Jackson as the new face of the $20 bill. Instead she and Jackson will appear together and make an even greater mockery of her legacy.

David Wagner: When Liberals Run Out of Patience: the Impolite Exile of Seymour Hersh (CounterPunch)

Seymour Hersh’s The Killing of Osama bin Laden a pocket-size collection of stories written for the London Review and printed during the second Obama administration arrives at an awkward moment for the expatriate journalist who not so long ago was esteemed as the finest investigative reporter in the United States. Hersh now publishes abroad because his talent, though undiminished, no longer fits into the publication plans of the nation’s newspaper and magazine publishers. He has, it appears, failed to adapt to the times. His revelations about deceit and brute force in the conduct of foreign affairs that delighted his editors when he raised a torch over Dick Cheney lost its shine when he reported on President’s Obama’s not-so-different Cold War liberalism.

Anshel Pfeffer: Sadiq Khan’s Victory in London Is Also a Victory for a Different Style of Politics (Haaretz; also via Google News)

While Labour was mostly punished by Jewish voters outside of London, Khan’s proactive engagement with city’s Jewish community while also distancing from Corbyn earned him – more than his party – a landslide victory.
The first election of a Muslim politician to a prominent political position in Britain, actually in the entire western world, is in itself of course a historical event. As fears of the rise of populist and racist politicians and parties, from the left and the right, abound in both the United States and Europe, Sadiq Khan’s victory in London gives grounds for some optimism.

Aeyal Gross: Decision to Outlaw Islamic Movement Criminalizes Thousands (Haaretz; also via Google News)

There is no evidence that the northern branch was involved in terrorist activities; banning the organization will serve to radicalize Israeli Arabs [i.e. Palestinians who hold Israeli citizenship].
The defense minister’s decision to outlaw the northern branch of the Islamic Movement in Israel is based on the Defense (Emergency) Regulations from 1945, a draconian Mandatory law and relic of the colonial era that gives state authorities far-reaching powers.

Mel Gurtov: Sanctions and Defiance in North Korea (Japan Focus)

North Korea has now been sanctioned five times by the United Nations Security Council for its nuclear and missile tests: resolutions 1718 (2006), 1874 (2009), 2087 (2013), 2094 (2013) and 2270 (2016). UNSC Resolution 2270 is the strongest one yet, spelling out in great detail the proscribed goods and requiring that all parties neither import them from nor export them to North Korea. Each resolution obliges the members to carry out the terms of the sanctions and (as the April 15 press statement of the UNSC says) “facilitate a peaceful and comprehensive solution through dialogue.” This is a case of mission impossible for two fundamental reasons: the sanctions will not work, and the fact of them impedes any chance for a “peaceful and comprehensive solution.”

Reuters: Migration crisis: Italians protest over Austria border fence plan (Guardian)

read more:

Korea | Austria

Stephen Haggard: Tensions Update III: Talks (Peterson Institute for International Economics)
Stephen Haggard: Winners and losers – what the North Korean deal really means (Guardian)

Another whirl in the now familiar dance between the two Koreas has ended with Pyongyang expressing regrets over the wounding of South Korean soldiers, Seoul agreeing to halt anti-North propaganda broadcasts, and heavy sighs of relief around the world as war talk dies down.

71 refugees were found dead, suffocated in an abandoned refrigerated lorry in Austria.

Luke Harding: Police fear as many as 50 migrants dead inside lorry left by Austrian motorway (Guardian)

The badly decomposed remains were discovered on Thursday morning on Austria’s A4 motorway between Neusiedl and Parndorf. The truck had been abandoned on the hard shoulder of the road near Parndorf. It had apparently been there since Wednesday. The refugees, who appeared to have suffocated, died before they entered Austria, police said.

A Refugee Tragedy in Austria (New York Times)

The grim geography is this: As the route to Italy via Libya and the Mediterranean has become more difficult and costly, refugees have increasingly headed to Greece, trying then to reach Western Europe via the Balkans. So far this year, 181,000 have gained a first European foothold in Greece after crossing a narrow stretch of sea from Turkey. From there, they make their way across Macedonia and Serbia, rushing to cross the Hungarian border before it becomes impassable, and hope to proceed from there to Germany and other points in Western Europe…
Greece and Italy are overwhelmed. Serbia and Macedonia, which aspire to European Union membership, are struggling to cope.

In the Traiskirchen refugee camp near Vienna, the government has conciously created a humanitarian desaster as a pretext for further measures against refugees. At the camp, people are sleeping in buses and outside, they don’t get enough food, and sanitary conditions are appalling.

Austria refugee camp branded ‘shameful’ by Amnesty International (BBC)

The head of the Austrian branch of Amnesty International, Heinz Pazelt, told the BBC the conditions in Traiskirchen were “shameful”, particularly in a rich country like Austria.
He said hundreds of unaccompanied minors were being severely neglected.
“They are just left alone and have to survive there. They are the last ones who get to eat, and this is a really heavy human rights violation of the convention for children,” he said.
The Amnesty report (in German) says many of the problems could be easily dealt with if there was better cooperation between the federal government and the provincial authorities in Austria.

Hazel Southam: 80,000 will seek asylum in Austria in 2015 – and for many, this former barracks in Traiskirchen is the end of the road (Independent)

The centre is an old Army barracks that was intended to house around 1,000 people…Today 4,800 people are housed in this imposing cream-painted building in conditions that Amnesty International declared “inhumane” and “shameful” last week.
The camp at Traiskirchen is run by ORS, a Swiss firm, reputed to have earned some €21m (£15m) from the camp in the last four years.

Thailand | Russia | India | Israel/Palestine | Austria

Pravit Rojanaphruk (pràwít rôːtnóprɤ̂ːk ประวิตร โรจนพฤกษ์): Beware of those who see the need for Article 44 (Nation)

The irony of the current political situation is that while the junta-appointed chairman of the Constitution Drafting Committee, Borwornsak Uwanno (bɔːwɔːnsàk ʔùwannoː บวรศักดิ์ อุวรรณโณ), is busy promoting the new charter and its numerous built-in checks and balances, junta leader and Prime Minister General Prayut Chan-o-cha (pràjút tɕan ʔoːtɕʰaː ประยุทธ์ จันทร์โอชา) is seriously considering anointing himself with unchecked absolute power under Article 44 of the provisional charter…
Article 44 of the junta’s provisional charter basically gives absolute power to the head of the National Council for Peace and Order (NCPO), which is Prayut. He can override the three branches of power – the executive, which Prayut already heads, the legislative, the members of which Prayut appointed, and the judiciary…
He can even order you or me to be summarily executed as Field Marshal Sarit Thanarat (sàrít tʰánárát สฤษดิ์ ธนะรัชต์) did with a similar law back in the 1960s.

AP: Thai PM’s plan to lift martial law with ‘dictator’ ruling sparks concerns (Guardian)

Thailand’s military-installed prime minister has said he plans to lift martial law 10 months after staging a coup, but will invoke a special security measure that critics say is more draconian…
Thai media have referred to Article 44 as “the dictator law”. Under a similar law in the 1960s, a Thai dictator carried out summary executions.
The measure gives Prayuth power over all aspects of government, law and order, and absolves him of any legal responsibility for his actions…
Prayuth sought to downplay the concerns, telling reporters he would use Article 44 “constructively” to solve security issues.
“Don’t worry,” he told reporters after a cabinet meeting. “If you’re not doing anything wrong, there’s no need to be afraid.”

Reuters: We’ll probably kill journalists who don’t report the truth, says Thai leader (Guardian)
Abigail Haworth: Bangkok’s Big Brother is watching you (Guardian)

Artem Kirpichenok: Russia: Nemtsov – A Symbol of the Right / Немцов: Символ правых сил (Ліва)

Mainstream media have presented Boris Nemtsov as an anti-Putin “liberal” oppositionist. In reality he was part of the oligarchy that began to emerge after the collapse of the Soviet Union, but had fallen out of grace with the main clique that took over.

Abdul Jadid: Mahatma Gandhi was first corporate sponsored NGO of the country: Arundhati Roy (Hindustan Times)

Booker prize winning writer Arundhati Roy (Arundhatī Rāẏ অরুন্ধতী রায়) stirred a controversy on Saturday when she called Mahatma Gandhi as the ‘first corporate sponsored NGO of this country.’ She even went a step further and added ‘it was one of the greatest falsehood in this country to worship him (Gandhi) who wrote horrible things about Dalit, women and poor.’ …
The writer lashed at the ‘corporate controlled system of the country,’ saying that the nation was not run by prime minister Narendra Modi but rather by big corporate honchos like Ambanis, Tatas among others. Terming the corporates as ‘baniyas,’ she said they controlled everything right from big media houses to small companies manufacturing commodities like salt, cosmetics among other things…
Quoting Baba Bheemrao Ambedkar that caste and capitalism were the biggest enemy of the society, the writer said that these two were the biggest concern for the country having a divisive society. Raising question over the motive of Ford and Rockefeller Foundation, which has been set up to strengthen democratic values and to fight for human values, the writer said the main objective of the two were to turn the world into a ‘safe place for the propagation of capitalism.’

Ilan Pappe: The messages from Israel’s election (Electronic Intifada)

Those of us who know the nature of the beast could not have been surprised by the results of the Israeli election.
Like many of my friends, I was also relieved that a liberal Zionist government was not elected. It would have allowed the charade of the “peace process” and the illusion of the two-state solution to linger on while the suffering of the Palestinians continues.
As always Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu himself provided the inevitable conclusion when he declared the end of the two-state solution — inviting us all to the long overdue funeral of an ill-conceived idea that provided Israel with international immunity for its colonialist project in Palestine.
The power of the charade was on show when the world and local pundits unrealistically predicted a victory for liberal Zionism, an Israeli ideological trend that is near extinction — embodied by the Zionist Union list headed by Isaac Herzog and Tzipi Livni…
The conclusion for the international community should be clear now. Only decolonization of the settler state can lead to reconciliation. And the only way to kick off this decolonization is by employing the same means exercised against the other long-standing settler state of the twentieth century: apartheid South Africa.
The option of BDS — boycott, divestment and sanctions — has never looked more valid than it does today. Hopefully this, together with popular resistance on the ground, will entice at least some of the second and third generation of the Jewish settler-colonial society to help stop the Zionist colonization project.

Mairav Zonszein: Israel killed more Palestinians in 2014 than in any other year since 1967 (Guardian)

Israel killed more Palestinian civilians in 2014 than in any other year since the occupation of the West Bank and Gaza Strip began in 1967, a UN report has said.
Israel’s activities in the Gaza Strip, West Bank and East Jerusalem resulted in the deaths of 2,314 Palestinians and 17,125 injuries, compared with 39 deaths and 3,964 injuries in 2013, according to the annual report (…) by the UN Office for the Co-ordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA).

Israel, US boycott UN human rights inquiry on Gaza, West Bank (Deutsche Welle)
Separation policy in Hebron (B’Tselem)

In January 2015, B’Tselem learned that the Israeli military had renewed segregation on the main street of the neighborhood of a-Salaimeh, Hebron, which leads to the Tomb of the Patriarchs. The military does not allow Palestinians to use the main, paved, part of the street and directs them to use a narrow, unpaved and rough pedestrian passageway.
This segregation had been previously implemented from September 2012 to March 2013. It was discontinued as a result of a short video published by B’Tselem, which showed Border Police officers explaining that the main part of the street was for Jews only. After the video circulated widely and received much media coverage, the military withdrew the policy and allowed free passage to residents, until recently.

Reuters: 14-year-old boy charged with terror offences in Austria (Guardian)

Austria has charged a 14-year-old boy with terror offences after he researched how to build a bomb online and made contact with militants supporting Islamic State fighters in Syria, prosecutors have said.

Israel | Greece | Austria | WWII

David Remnick: Base Appeals (New Yorker)

In last week’s Israeli elections, Netanyahu did play the role of Nixon—except that he did not go to China. Nor did he go to Ramallah. He went racist. In 1968, Nixon spoke the coded language of states’ rights and law-and-order politics in order to heighten the fears of white voters in the South, who felt diminished and disempowered by the civil-rights movement and by the Democrat in the White House, Lyndon B. Johnson. Nixon’s swampy maneuvers helped defeat the Democrat Hubert Humphrey and secure the South as an electoral safe haven for more than forty years.
Netanyahu, a student—practically a member—of the G.O.P., is no beginner at this demagogic game. In 1995, as the leader of the opposition, he spoke at rallies where he questioned the Jewishness of Yitzhak Rabin’s attempt to make peace with the Palestinians through the Oslo Accords. This bit of code was not lost on the ultra-Orthodox or on the settlers. Netanyahu refused to rein in fanatics among his supporters who carried signs portraying Rabin as a Nazi or wearing, à la Arafat, a kaffiyeh…
Netanyahu, sensing an electoral threat from a center-left coalition led by Isaac Herzog and Tzipi Livni, unleashed a campaign finale steeped in nativist fear and hatred of the Other. This time, there was not a trace of subtlety. “Right-wing rule is in danger,” he warned his supporters. “Arab voters are coming out in droves to the polls.” On Israeli TV, he said, “If we don’t close the gap in the next few days, Herzog and Livni, supported by Arabs and leftist N.G.O.s, will form the next government.” (Twenty per cent of the Israeli citizenry is Arab.) He warned darkly of “left-wing people from outside,” including perfidious “Scandinavians,” and “tens of millions of dollars” being used to “mobilize the Arab vote.” Pro-Likud phone banks reminded voters that Netanyahu’s opponents had the support of “Hussein Obama.” …
The day before the election, Netanyahu made it clear that, after so many years of periodically flashing the Nixon-goes-to-China card to keep the center-left and the meddling “foreigners” at bay, he would play a new hand. “Whoever moves to establish a Palestinian state or intends to withdraw from territory is simply yielding territory for radical Islamic terrorist attacks against Israel,” he said in an interview with NRG, a right-leaning Israeli news site. Pressed to say if this meant that he would never agree to a Palestinian state, he answered, “Indeed.”
Now that he has been reëlected, Netanyahu has started to walk back his remarks, telling interviewers that he didn’t mean what he said about “droves” of Arabs, that he is all for a secure two-state solution. Nixon goes to China—again! But why should anyone believe it?

Ilene Prusher: Netanyahu resorts to race-baiting to win elections (Haaretz)

In the last 48 hours we’ve seen Benjamin Netanyahu’s true face.
We learned that he has no intention of ever agreeing to a Palestinian state.
We learned what he thinks of the Arab minority in Israel, which he said should not feel threatened by his attempts to pass a nation-state bill, because this is still a democracy where citizens have equal rights.
But we learned, when we see him sending out tweets, texts and a video saying “Hurry friends, the Arabs are going out in droves to vote, bused in by the left” – we see in that moment what he really thinks of the 20% of Israeli citizens who are Arab.
They are the enemy. They are a danger. They and their votes are to be feared. Their walking peacefully to their places of voting is an existential threat, just like every Palestinian organization of every political stripe. Just like Iran and ISIS and BDS.

Gershom Gorenberg: Netanyahu’s campaign finale dealt a body blow to Israeli democracy (Haaretz)

The Israeli prime minister sees the Green Line as the border between where Arabs can’t vote and where they shouldn’t.

Nick Clegg condemns Netanyahu for ruling out two-state solution (Guardian)

Nick Clegg has described the Israeli prime minister’s pledge that he will not agree to the creation of an independent Palestinian state as alarming, saying it may lead a future British government to formally recognise Palestinian sovereignty.

Peter Beaumont: Netanyahu backtracks on rejecting two states, but damage is already done (Guardian)

Binyamin Netanyahu’s contradictory statements a few days apart on whether or not he supports a two-state solution are so at odds that they are at first hard to reconcile.
On Monday, the eve of Israeli elections, he unequivocally disavowed his support – first given in a speech in 2009 – for a Palestinian state.
By Thursday, however, Netanyahu was in full reverse, saying in an interview with the US channel MSNBC that’s not what he had meant at all.

Peter Beaumont, Alan Yuhas: Netanyahu backs off from pre-election stance ruling out Palestinian state (Guardian)

The embarrassing retreat came as the White House hinted that the US could stop protecting Israel at the UN and international institutions if it was not committed to a two-state solution – a key long-term policy in Washington.

Yonatan Mendel: Diary (London Review of Books)

The Jewish parties, while similar in many ways, can be distinguished in their approaches to the conflict. The first bloc, headed by Netanyahu, is in no way interested in resolving it: giving back territory, putting a halt to building in the Occupied Territories – all that would be too much of a headache…
The second bloc, headed by the Zionist Union of Livni and Herzog, is in love with negotiations. They can’t wait to topple Netanyahu because they long for a ‘peace process’. Oh, the process! Not an actual peace, obviously, not the return of ‘a single Palestinian refugee’ (Livni’s words), no negotiation on ‘Jerusalem, the united and undivided capital of the Jewish people for 3007 years’ (Livni again, it would be 3014 now), no compromise on Israeli’s full security control of the Jordan Valley in the Occupied West Bank, but still – a process. In their dreams, Livni and Herzog see themselves flying to Washington and shaking hands with the US president… The Zionist Union wants to topple Netanyahu, but without offering a meaningful alternative…
The third bloc is by far the ‘nicest’. It’s led by Yair Lapid and his Yesh Atid party. Following the ‘social justice’ demonstrations in 2011, Lapid got voters to think first about themselves and their own ‘social justice’ and to forget about the Other’s lack of social and political rights. Lapid got help from the Labor Party (then headed by Shelly Yechimovich), which showed its new lack of spine when it ‘forgot’ the conflict and concentrated instead on Israel’s middle class. And indeed Lapid offers a great option for Israelis. Why does it matter whether there are 400,000 or 500,000 Israeli settlers? Why worry that Gaza has been under siege for eight years, and could explode tomorrow? Why should we deal with the difficulties of the poorest communities in Israel – the Arab citizens and the ultra-orthodox – when we can complain that they are holding us all back? This party is a great hit in Israel, and there are those who wish to copy its success – the Kulanu party, headed by Moshe Kahlon (formerly of Likud), is a right-wing version. The clearest proof of Israeli decadence and escapism, these parties sell Israelis an all-inclusive package of ‘social justice’ – within Zionist and neoliberal parameters – that does not include Arabs, conflict, refugees, Jerusalem, settlements or any other passé 1990s concepts…
[T]he Jewish-Arab List, the National Democratic Assembly, the United Arab List and the Arab Movement for Renewal joined forces to re-form as the Joint List, which may be the third largest presence in the next parliament. Headed by a young and charismatic leader, Ayman Odeh (who is, yes, supported by me), this party has a line. It says it is against another war on Gaza. It calls for an end to the occupation (and it actually uses the word ‘occupation’) in the West Bank as a step towards peace (and it actually uses the word ‘peace’). It calls on Jews and Arabs in Israel to unite against racism and discrimination – of Arabs and Mizrahi alike – and positions itself on the left (and actually uses the word ‘left’).

Gideon Levy: Why Israel’s Jews must vote for the Arab list (Haaretz)

The Joint List is the clear ray of light in this election season. It’s important for many Arabs to vote for it, and no less important for many Jews to do likewise. There is no more appropriate way for anyone who is guided by moral and ethical standards to demonstrate empathy and register protest.
Those who hesitate because it’s an “Arab party” should remember the role that Jews played in the African National Congress during the apartheid era. They did not recoil because it was a black movement. They did not hesitate because it was not their battle, supposedly.

Gideon Levy: To see how racist Israel has become, look to the left (Haaretz)

The new levels of Arab-hatred being displayed are shocking, and so are the Israeli public’s acceptance of them.
[F]oreign minister [Avigdor Lieberman] said “Those who are against us … we need to pick up an ax and cut off his head,” aiming his ax at Arab Israelis. Such a remark would end the career and guarantee lifetime ostracism of any Western statesman. Only superannuated African dictators speak of axes and beheading — and the leaders of Islamic State, of course. But such is the intellectual, cultural and moral world of Israel’s foreign minister, a bully who was once convicted of physically assaulting a child. The world can’t understand how Lieberman’s remark was accepted with such equanimity in Israel, where some highly-regarded commentators still believe this cynical, repellent politician is a serious, reasonable statesman.
No less repugnant was his savaging, in a televised debate, of Joint List leader Iman Odeh, whom he called a “fifth column” and told, “you’re not wanted here,” “go to Gaza.” None of the other party heads taking part, including those of leftist and centrist slates, leader in the debate, stepped in to stop Lieberman’s tirade. (Zehava Galon of Meretz denounced it later.) Silence is tantamount to an admission of guilt. We are all Lieberman.

Jack Khoury: Erekat: International community to blame for Netanyahu reelection (Haaretz)

Chief Palestinian negotiator Saeb Erekat on Wednesday blamed the international community for Israel’s election results and Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s reelection.
“Such a result would not have been possible had the international community held Israel to account for its systematic violations of international law,” Erekat said in a statement.
Erekat said that results show “the success of a campaign platform based on settlements, racism, apartheid and the denial of the fundamental human rights of the Palestinian people.”

Nahum Barnea: Netanyahu’s dangerous deal with the Republicans (Yedioth Ahronot)

The American Republican Party is intervening in our elections, and in return an Israeli party is intervening in their politics. They are helping our prime minister beat his rivals here, and he is helping them humiliate their president there.

Jack Khoury: New Joint List MK calls on Netanyahu to apologize for ‘Arab voters’ warning (Haaretz; also via Google News)

A new Joint List MK on Saturday called on Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu to apologize to the Arab community for his controversial comments on Election Day, in which he warned Likud supporters that Israeli Arabs were voting “in their droves.”
New Joint List MK Dr. Yousef Jabareen, an attorney and expert in minority rights, was speaking at the first post-election meeting of the Higher Arab Monitoring Committee, which also blasted Netanyahu for his statement.
Jabareen said Netanyahu’s statements constituted incitement toward Arab citizens, who were simply fulfilling their basic right to vote.
“The prime minister presents the vote of citizens who suffer from discrimination as a source of fear and worry? In a normal country, a prime minister would encourage all citizens to get out and vote,” said Jabareen.
“Could anyone imagine a European leader saying in a video clip that he was worried about high voter turnout among Jews in his country? Such a politician would not stay an hour in his job, and rightly so. However, in Israel it seems that anything goes and there is no limit to racist discourse,” added Jabareen.

Orly Azoulay: With a little help from Netanyahu’s billionaire friends (Yedioth Ahronot)

The Republicans, who control the US Congress, have organized a visit for Israel’s prime minister which is worth more than 1,000 political strategists and copywriters’ brilliant ideas.

You’re an Arab? Strip (Haaretz)

The unnecessary, humiliating treatment that multitudes of Arab Israelis suffer routinely in Israel’s airports must be done away with for good.

Anshel Pfeffer: In Israel, racial profiling doesn’t warrant debate, or apologies (Haaretz)

While other democracies hesitate to resort to racial profiling, Israel takes the practice for granted.

Eli Bahar: Israel’s High Court shirking its duty on racial profiling (Haaretz; also via Google News)

The court’s refusal to decide on ethnic profiling at airports is nothing less than scandalous.

Sebastian Budgen, Costas Lapavitsas: Greece: Phase Two (Jacobin)

Much — too much — has been written in a journalistic, superficial vein about Greek Finance Minister Yanis Varoufakis and last month’s negotiations with the European Union. But now that the lines have hardened and are clearer for us all to see, a new situation has opened up.
The scenario of Greece leaving the eurozone (“Grexit”) is more frequently and explicitly posed as the only way that Syriza’s government can avoid backtracking on its campaign promises.

Serge Halimi: The democratic right to cry ‘enough’ / Soutenir la Grèce (Monde diplomatique)

The Greeks voted to change their government, and its dealings with the world. For now, Greece and Germany have stepped back from the brink, with EU approval for Greek reform proposals and a 4-month bailout extension.

Costas Lapavitsas: To beat austerity, Greece must break free from the euro (Guardian)

What should we as Syriza do and how could the left across Europe help? The most vital step is to realise that the strategy of hoping to achieve radical change within the institutional framework of the common currency has come to an end. The strategy has given us electoral success by promising to release the Greek people from austerity without having to endure a major falling-out with the eurozone. Unfortunately, events have shown beyond doubt that this is impossible, and it is time that we acknowledged reality.
For Syriza to avoid collapse or total surrender, we must be truly radical. Our strength lies exclusively in the tremendous popular support we still enjoy. The government should rapidly implement measures relieving working people from the tremendous pressures of the last few years: forbid house foreclosures, write off domestic debt, reconnect families to the electricity network, raise the minimum wage, stop privatisations. This is the programme we were elected on. Fiscal targets and monitoring by the “institutions” should take a back seat in our calculations, if we are to maintain our popular support.
At the same time, our government must approach the looming June negotiations with a very different frame of mind from February. The eurozone cannot be reformed and it will not become a “friendly” monetary union that supports working people. Greece must bring a full array of options to the table, and it must be prepared for extraordinary liquidity measures in the knowledge that all eventualities could be managed, if its people were ready. After all, the EU has already wrought disaster on the country.

Peter Tiede, Costas Lapavitsas: „Kompletter Schuldenschnitt ist der Preis für den Grexit“ (Bild)

Jeremy Warner: Austria is fast becoming Europe’s latest debt nightmare (Telegraph)

Ah Austria, land of schnitzel, lederhosen, Mozart, alpine meadows and beer drinking. Less widely appreciated is its special place in the history of catastrophic banking crises.

Rory Fanning: The Firebombing of Tokyo (Jacobin)

Today marks the seventieth anniversary of the American firebombing of Tokyo, World War II’s deadliest day. More people died that night from napalm bombs than in the atomic strikes on Hiroshima and Nagasaki. But few in the United States are aware that the attack even took place…
World War II was carried out with brutality on all fronts. The Japanese military murdered nearly six million Chinese, Korean, and Filipino civilians by the end of it. However, to argue that Japanese civilians deserved to die — that children deserved to die — at the hands of the US military because their government killed civilians in other Asian countries is an indefensible position, in any moral or ethical framework.
Operation Meetinghouse saw more than three hundred B-29 bombers flying at ten thousand (as opposed to their usual thirty thousand feet) to avoid the effects of a 100 to 200 MPH jet stream, and setting Tokyo ablaze in the late hours of March 9. The American planes dropped five hundred thousand M-69 bombs (nicknamed “Tokyo Calling Card”), which were designed specially to consume the largely wooden residential structures of Tokyo.

Palestine | Iraq | Afghanistan | Egypt | Media

Jason Burke: Gaza homes ‘uninhabitable’ as tens of thousands come back to rubble (Guardian)

Previous estimates of 65,000 rendered homeless in Gaza now look conservative. In Beit Hanoun alone, around 30,000 people will have to be rehoused. The town is just one of around a dozen communities lying in the three kilometre “free fire zone” declared by Israeli troops during the most intense period of fighting to have been devastated…
On Monday, the United Nations called the level of destruction “unprecedented.”

Amy Goodman: Ilan Pappé: Israel Has Chosen to be a “Racist Apartheid State” with U.S. Support (Democracy Now)
Gaza: Israeli Soldiers Shoot and Kill Fleeing Civilians (Human Rights Watch)
Mounting evidence of deliberate attacks on Gaza health workers by Israeli army (Amnesty International)
Russ Greenleaf: Make no mistake, Israel is targeting citizens in Gaza (Courier-Journal)

When John Kerry said, “some pinpoint operation,” he was asking the obvious question: Why is it that over half the people Israel has killed in Gaza are women and children? More than 150 children. If Israel is trying to avoid hitting civilians, why are over 70 percent of the casualties civilians?

Ben Hubbard, Jodi Rudorenaug: Questions of Weapons and Warnings in Past Barrage on a Gaza Shelter (New York Times)
Geoff Earle: Netanyahu asks US to help Israel avoid war crime charges (New York Post)
Glenn Greenwald: Terrorism in the Israeli Attack on Gaza (Intercept)
Glenn Greenwald: Netanyahu’s ‘Telegenically Dead’ Comment Is Grotesque but Not Original (Intercept)
Desmond Tutu: My plea to the people of Israel: Liberate yourselves by liberating Palestine (Haaretz)

Those who continue to do business with Israel, who contribute to a sense of “normalcy” in Israeli society, are doing the people of Israel and Palestine a disservice. They are contributing to the perpetuation of a profoundly unjust status quo.
Those who contribute to Israel’s temporary isolation are saying that Israelis and Palestinians are equally entitled to dignity and peace.
Ultimately, events in Gaza over the past month or so are going to test who believes in the worth of human beings…
Nelson Mandela famously said that South Africans would not feel free until Palestinians were free.
He might have added that the liberation of Palestine will liberate Israel, too.

Amira Hass: A European green light to kill, destroy and pulverize Gaza (Haaretz)

In its ongoing silence, official Germany is collaborating with Israel on its journey of destruction and death, waged against the Palestinian people in Gaza. Germany isn’t alone – Austria’s silence is also deafening.
Actually, why single out these two countries? On the second or third day of the war, Chancellor Angela Merkel wasn’t the only one to declare that she stood beside Israel. The entire European Union supported Israel and its right “to defend itself.”
Yes, France and Britain did some squirming last week, making a few feeble sounds of protest. But the EU’s original stance, stated on July 22, still resounds. It accused the side under prolonged Israeli siege of causing the escalation. This is the side that, despite all the European declarations on its right to self-determination and an independent state in the West Bank and Gaza, is still under Israeli occupation after 47 years.
EU member states and, obviously, the United States, gave Israel a green light to kill, destroy and pulverize. They placed the brunt of the blame on the people launching the rockets, the Palestinians. The rockets are disrupting the “order” and the “quiet,” endangering the security of Israel, which is so weak and vulnerable, always attacked for no reason whatsoever.

Rainer Rupp: Genozidplanspiele (junge Welt)

Pepe Escobar: Why Obama is bombing the Caliph (RT)

Obama’s bombing of the Caliph’s goons has absolutely nothing to do with US ambassador to the UN Samantha Power’s much beloved R2P (‘responsibility to protect’) doctrine – as in the responsibility to protect up to 150,000 Yazidis, not to mention Kurds and remaining Christians, from a ‘potential’ genocide carried out by the Caliph’s goons…
The Caliph’s goons were dead set on conquering Irbil – the capital of Iraqi Kurdistan. The Kurdistan Regional Government (KRG) is led by the wily Massoud Barzani – a long-time US client/vassal.
The US maintains a consulate in Irbil. Crammed with CIA types. Or, as the New York Times so lovingly puts it, “thousands of Americans.”

Afghanistan: No justice for thousands of civilians killed in US/NATO operations (Amnesty International)

“Thousands of Afghans have been killed or injured by US forces since the invasion, but the victims and their families have little chance of redress. The US military justice system almost always fails to hold its soldiers accountable for unlawful killings and other abuses,” said Richard Bennett, Amnesty International’s Asia Pacific Director.
“None of the cases that we looked into – involving more than 140 civilian deaths – were prosecuted by the US military. Evidence of possible war crimes and unlawful killings has seemingly been ignored.”

Patrick Kingsley: Egypt massacre was premeditated, says Human Rights Watch (Guardian)

Egyptian security forces intentionally killed at least 817 protesters during last August’s Rabaa massacre, in a premeditated attack equal to or worse than China’s Tiananmen Square killings in 1989, Human Rights Watch (HRW) has argued in a report…
The report recommends that several senior individuals within Egypt’s security apparatus be investigated and, where appropriate, held to account for their role in the planning of both the Rabaa massacre and others that occurred last summer – including Abdel Fatah al-Sisi, Egypt’s then defence minister and new president. As head of the army at the time, Sisi had overall responsibility for the army’s role at Rabaa, and has publicly acknowledged spending “very many long days to discuss all the details”.

Lisa O’Carroll: Seymour Hersh on Obama, NSA and the ‘pathetic’ American media (Guardian)

Seymour Hersh has got some extreme ideas on how to fix journalism – close down the news bureaus of NBC and ABC, sack 90% of editors in publishing and get back to the fundamental job of journalists which, he says, is to be an outsider…
The Obama administration lies systematically, he claims, yet none of the leviathans of American media, the TV networks or big print titles, challenge him.

Should we laugh or cry? Since Obama said “We did some things that were wrong. We did a whole lot of things that were right, but we tortured some folks”, the New York Times decided to call torture torture. I guess the New York Times paid special attention to what Obama said right after that: “It’s important for us not to feel too sanctimonious in retrospect about the tough job that those folks had. And a lot of those folks were working hard under enormous pressure and are real patriots.” Remember that Obama also said that after taking office, he only banned “some” of torture techniques.
Alan Yuhas: New York Times to use the word ‘torture’ when describing torture (Guardian)

Under pressure from reporters and editors, the New York Times’ leadership has decided to use the word “torture” with regard to the CIA’s treatment of prisoners in the years following September 11.
Executive editor Dean Baquet published a statement on Thursday announcing the change in style, explaining that since we now know many more details of the CIA’s methods over the past decade – including waterboarding, sleep deprivation and caging prisoners in a box – the “plain-English” meaning of “torture” now outweighs the “specialized legal meaning” of the word.

Palestine | Inequality | Iraq | Syria | Hiroshima

Amy Goodman, Juan González: “A Hideous Atrocity”: Noam Chomsky on Israel’s Assault on Gaza & U.S. Support for the Occupation (Democracy Now)

Hideous. Sadistic. Vicious. Murderous. That is how Noam Chomsky describes Israel’s 29-day offensive in Gaza that killed nearly 1,900 people and left almost 10,000 people injured.

Amy Goodman, Juan González: Noam Chomsky: Israel’s Actions in Palestine are “Much Worse Than Apartheid” in South Africa (Democracy Now)
Amy Goodman, Nermeen Shaykh: Henry Siegman, Leading Voice of U.S. Jewry, on Gaza: “A Slaughter of Innocents” (Democracy Now)

“When one thinks that this is what is necessary for Israel to survive, that the Zionist dream is based on the repeated slaughter of innocents on a scale that we’re watching these days on television, that is really a profound, profound crisis — and should be a profound crisis in the thinking of all of us who were committed to the establishment of the state and to its success,” Siegman says. Responding to Israel’s U.S.-backed claim that its assault on Gaza is necessary because no country would tolerate the rocket fire from militants in Gaza, Siegman says: “What undermines this principle is that no country and no people would live the way that Gazans have been made to live. … The question of the morality of Israel’s action depends, in the first instance, on the question, couldn’t Israel be doing something [to prevent] this disaster that is playing out now, in terms of the destruction of human life? Couldn’t they have done something that did not require that cost? And the answer is, sure, they could have ended the occupation.”

Juan Cole: Israel Doesn’t Get Geneva Conventions, Still Holding Gaza Civilians Hostage (Truthdig)

The Israeli government is saying that it will only let in building materials so that Palestinians in Gaza can rebuild or repair the some 40,000 buildings that have been damaged or destroyed if Hamas disarms.
It is legitimate for Israel to seek the disarming of Hamas, but it isn’t legitimate or legal in international law for it to hold non-combatants’ lives and welfare hostage in order to accomplish that goal.

Jimmy Carter, Mary Robinson: How to Fix It (Foreign Policy)

Ending this war in Gaza begins with recognizing Hamas as a legitimate political actor.

Richard Falk: Joint Declaration by International Law Experts on Israel’s Gaza Offensive (Global Justice in the 21st Century)
Chris Hedges: Why Israel Lies (Trutzdig)
Chris Hedges speech about Gaza (YouTube)
Lizzie Dearden: Right-wing Israeli politician calls for Gazans to be ’concentrated in camps’ – and then all resistance ‘exterminated’ (Independent)
Katie Halper: A refreshingly open call for ethnic cleansing of Palestinians from an Israeli deputy speaker (Raw Story)
Duncan Roden, Stuart Munckton: Israeli calls for genocide rooted in its history (Green Left Weekly)
Chris Doyle: Israel and the language of genocide (Al-Arabiya)
Yoav Bar: Zionist Demo in Haifa: “In Gaza there is no studying, there are no children left!” (Free Haifa)
Michel Warschawski: Don’t touch my MK, Haneen Zoabi! (Alternative Information Centre)
Mira Bar Hillel: Despite claims that anti-Semitism is on the rise in the UK, it’s Israel’s critics who need protection (Independent)

The reality is that those who really need bodyguards do not live in London, Manchester or Leeds. They are my brave Israeli friends and colleagues who have attempted to do nothing more than protest peacefully against the Gaza massacres.

Asa Winstanley: “Liberal” Guardian to print pro-genocide ad (Electronic Intifada)
Roy Greenslade: The Times refuses to carry ad accusing Hamas of ‘child sacrifice’ (Guardian)

But The Guardian has agreed to run the advert on Monday.

Any newspaper that published an advertisement accusing Jews of “child sacrifice” would rightly be condemned as anti-Semitic.
How is it, then, that Britain’s leading “liberal” newspaper is set to publish just such an ad about Palestinians on Monday?

Jeanna Smialek: The 1% May Be Richer Than You Think, Research Shows (Bloomberg)

The richest of America’s rich — the top 0.1 percent with at least $20 million in net wealth — held 23.5 percent of all U.S. wealth in 2012 after adding in estimates of how much was hidden in offshore tax havens, said Zucman, a visiting scholar at the University of California at Berkeley…
Austria’s top 1 percent held as much as 36 percent of that country’s wealth in 2013, if adjusted with Forbes’ data. That’s 13 percentage points more than one survey estimate suggests, which would make Austria almost as unequal as the U.S.

Patrick Cockburn: Isis consolidates (London Review of Books)

As the attention of the world focused on Ukraine and Gaza, the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria (Isis) captured a third of Syria in addition to the quarter of Iraq it had seized in June. The frontiers of the new Caliphate declared by Isis on 29 June are expanding by the day and now cover an area larger than Great Britain and inhabited by at least six million people, a population larger than that of Denmark, Finland or Ireland. In a few weeks of fighting in Syria Isis has established itself as the dominant force in the Syrian opposition, routing the official al-Qaida affiliate, Jabhat al-Nusra, in the oil-rich province of Deir Ezzor and executing its local commander as he tried to flee. In northern Syria some five thousand Isis fighters are using tanks and artillery captured from the Iraqi army in Mosul to besiege half a million Kurds in their enclave at Kobani on the Turkish border. In central Syria, near Palmyra, Isis fought the Syrian army as it overran the al-Shaer gasfield, one of the largest in the country, in a surprise assault that left an estimated three hundred soldiers and civilians dead. Repeated government counter-attacks finally retook the gasfield but Isis still controls most of Syria’s oil and gas production. The Caliphate may be poor and isolated but its oil wells and control of crucial roads provide a steady income in addition to the plunder of war.

Owen Bennett-Jones: How should we think about the Caliphate? (London Review of Books)
Patrick Cockburn: Battle for Baghdad (London Review of Books)
Torie Rose DeGhett: The War Photo No One Would Publish (Atlantic)

When Kenneth Jarecke photographed an Iraqi man burned alive, he thought it would change the way Americans saw the Gulf War. But the media wouldn’t run the picture.

Amy Goodman: Hiroshima and Nagasaki, 69 Years Later (Truthdig)

Egypt | Britain | Laura Poitras | Gay rights | Iran | KPÖ

Pepe Escobar: A message from our (Saudi) sponsors (Asia Times)

The Egyptian junta is about to let former despot Hosni Mubarak out of the box in the name of defending the interests of the “Egyptian people”. Take it as a message from the House of Saud, which loves Mubarak as one of its own. … “Arab Spring? What Arab Spring?”

Adam Gabbatt: US insists it has not stopped aid to Egypt as pressure mounts on Obama (Guardian)
Patrick Kingsley: Egypt’s cruellest week (Guardian)

Most so-called liberals have thrown their lot in with the army, since the current environment has forced almost everyone into a with-or-against-us mindset. …
Spurred on by a jingoistic and uninquiring media (some Egyptian television presenters cried with joy on air the day Morsi was overthrown) much of Egyptian society is convinced that the former president’s supporters are wholly a terrorist force bent on making Egypt part of some wider Islamic state. “We are not against any protesters – but we are against terrorists. We have a war with terrorists,” says Mohamed Khamis, a spokesman for Tamarod, the grassroots campaign that successfully encouraged millions to march against Morsi in June. …
But the central charges – that most Brotherhood supporters are violent, that their two huge protest camps were simply overgrown terrorist cells, and that their brutal suppression was justified and even restrained – are not supported by facts.

Heiko Khoo: Whither the Egyptian revolution (China.org.cn)

Rob sent this link:
Peter Maass: How Laura Poitras Helped Snowden Spill His Secrets (New York Times)
He also sent this article (it’s behind a paywall):
Hung Ho-fung: China’s Rise Stalled (New Left Review)

Obama’s poodles at work:
Glenn Greenwald’s partner detained at Heathrow airport for nine hours (Guardian)
Glenn Greenwald: Detaining my partner was a failed attempt at intimidation (Guardian)
Jonathan Watts: David Miranda: ‘They said I would be put in jail if I didn’t co-operate’ (Guardian)

Rob wrote that Miranda’s case is by no means the first time that British police have abused Schedule 7 in this way. They have been using it to seize activists at ports for questioning because detainees are not allowed a lawyer, can be imprisoned if they fails to answer all questions put to them, and any documents in their possession can be seized and copied. One example of this that the media completely ignored is the repeated detention – five times – of two researchers for Corporate Watch on their way back from the West Bank and Golan:
Schedule 7 of the Terrorism Act 2000: A police snooping tool to protect private profit (Corporate Watch)

Further bizarre events:
Julian Borger: NSA files: why the Guardian in London destroyed hard drives of leaked files (Guardian)

A threat of legal action by the government that could have stopped reporting on the files leaked by Edward Snowden led to a symbolic act at the Guardian’s offices in London

Spencer Ackerman: White House: US government wouldn’t force reporters to destroy computers (Guardian)

The UK government insisted that the Guardian surrender or destroy computers containing classified information leaked by Edward Snowden. The White House has said that it would not be “appropriate” for the US government to destroy leaked government secrets obtained by media organisations in the way ordered by the British government.

Nicholas Watt, Spencer Ackerman, Josh Halliday and Rowena Mason: UK and US at odds over destruction of Guardian hard drives (Guardian)
Steve Horn: What The US And Russia Are Really Quarreling Over: Pipelines (MintPress News)

Christopher Carbone: Have gay rights groups abandoned Bradley Manning? (Guardian)

Mainstream LGBT rights groups like Human Rights Campaign and GLAAD have stayed quiet about Manning. … Why has Manning, whose revelations about the US Army’s actions epitomize social justice in action, gotten the cold shoulder from the Human Rights Campaign and GLAAD (formerly known as the Gay & Lesbian Alliance Against Defamation)? The silence of these groups has been deafening. …
First, Manning is the opposite of everything that these groups seek to portray as the image of “gay Americans”. I use those quotes because the majority of LGBT Americans don’t conform to these upwardly mobile, white, polished, virile male stereotypes. Manning doesn’t look like CNN anchor Anderson Cooper. …
Second, organizations like the HRC, which had net assets of over $32.7m at the end of last year and claims more than a millions members and supporters, happens to have the financial backing of major military industrial corporations, including Lockheed Martin, which is sponsoring the HRC’s upcoming national gala in Washington DC and Booz Allen Hamilton, a corporate partner for the national event, as well as Northrop Grumman a sponsor of their Los Angeles gala. …
There was no quid pro quo, however, the HRC and GLAAD know exactly where their bread is buttered. The Human Rights Campaign spent millions of dollars and countless volunteer hours to lobby for the repeal of Don’t ask, don’t tell, ensuring that patriotic and law-abiding gays and lesbians can continue to serve in the US military and fight its wars in far-flung places. …
GLAAD has had Goldman Sachs (that bastion of awesomeness) as a patron of its media awards in the past and Verizon (remember those agreements with the NSA?) as a supporter …

Saeed Kamali Dehghan, Richard Norton-Taylor: CIA admits role in 1953 Iranian coup (Guardian)

Declassified documents describe in detail how US – with British help – engineered coup against Mohammad Mosaddeq

Shimon Gapso: If you think I’m a racist, then Israel is a racist state / אני גזען? (Haaretz)
Neve Gordon: Being Honest About the Dominant Zionist Narrative (CounterPunch)

Gapso’s clear-sighted analysis of the dominant Zionist narrative speaks volumes about Israel’s state in the new millennium. With jingoist pride he reveals the logic of exclusion that defines the current Israeli political and social landscape. The novelty is not so much in what he says, but that he is has no shame in saying it. The only thing that he forgets to mention, however, is that racism is not “natural,” something one is born with or should be proud of, but rather a trait one acquires by internalizing the horrific lie that certain human beings are less than fully human.

Gabriel Kuhn: The Curious Success of the Communist Party in Graz, Austria (CounterPunch)

Iraq “pullout” | Korea | War on Terror | Israel/Palestine | Wiesenthal

Tom Kent: AP: ‘Combat in Iraq is not over, and we should not uncritically repeat suggestions that it is’ (PoyntnerOnline)

To begin with, combat in Iraq is not over, and we should not uncritically repeat suggestions that it is, even if they come from senior officials. The situation on the ground in Iraq is no different today than it has been for some months. Iraqi security forces are still fighting Sunni and al-Qaida insurgents. … As for U.S. involvement, it also goes too far to say that the U.S. part in the conflict in Iraq is over. … 50,000 American troops remain in country. Our own reporting on the ground confirms that some of these troops, especially some 4,500 special operations forces, continue to be directly engaged in military operations.

Glenn Greenwald: Associated Press refuses to use White House / NBC propaganda terms for Iraq (Salon)

Rüdiger Frank: Money in Socialist Economies: The Case of North Korea (Japan Focus)

There is no indication that the North Korean state wants to end economic exchange with the outside world. However, stage one and stage two of the currency reforms reveals the strong determination to return to the driver’s seat and to be in full control of the domestic economy as well as of foreign economic relations. The vision of the planners in Pyongyang is a domestic population that is supplied via state distribution and rationing, and foreign trade and investment that are channeled through the Ministry of Foreign Trade, the Foreign Trade Bank, and the Foreign Investment Bank rather than via single ministries or even, beware, single enterprises.

Court Sides With CIA on Seizure of Terror Suspects (New York Times)

A federal appeals court on Wednesday ruled that former prisoners of the C.I.A. could not sue over their alleged torture in overseas prisons because such a lawsuit might expose secret government information.
The sharply divided ruling was a major victory for the Obama administration’s efforts to advance a sweeping view of executive secrecy powers. […]
Among other policies, the Obama national security team has also authorized the C.I.A. to try to kill a United States citizen suspected of terrorism ties, blocked efforts by detainees in Afghanistan to bring habeas corpus lawsuits challenging the basis for their imprisonment without trial, and continued the C.I.A.’s so-called extraordinary rendition program of prisoner transfers […]

George Bisharat: Israel and Palestine: A true one-state solution (Washington Post)
Tony Judt: Israel: The Alternative (New York Review of Books, October 2003)

This is of historic interest, at least for Austrians:
Dalia Karpel: Hunting Simon Wiesenthal / ביוגרפיה חדשה של תום שגב חושפת גילויים חדשים על צייד הנאצים שמעון ויזנטל (Ha’aretz)

John sent these articles. The first one can be accessed on-line only with a subscription; the second one can be accessed for free.
Peter Nolan, Zhang Jin: Global Competition after the Financial Crisis (New Left Review; by subscription)
Gavan McCormack: Obama vs Okinawa (New Left Review; free access)