Syria | Yemen | Brazil | Korea | Venezuela | USA | Palestine

Vijay Prashad, Juan González, Amy Goodman: Turkey’s Offensive Against ISIS & Press Crackdown is Really Just War on Kurds (Democracy Now)

As the United States backs a Turkish military incursion into Syria targeting ISIS-held areas along the border, Turkey says it’s also concerned about Syrian Kurdish militias at the border who are backed by the United States.

Vijay Prashad, Juan González, Amy Goodman: Yemen & Palestine: the Two “Ruthless” Bombing Campaigns (Democracy Now)

Yemen, since March of 2015, has been ruthlessly bombed. The poorest Arab country is being destroyed by the richest Arab country. And nobody has been able to properly criticize the Saudis, because they have been essentially backed by the United States, rearmed by them, etc.

Glenn Greenwald, Juan González, Amy Goodman: Complete Reversal of Democracy: Brazilian President Dilma Rousseff’s Impeachment (Democracy Now)

Embattled Brazilian President Dilma Rousseff is slated to testify today at her impeachment trial—a trial that many are calling a coup by her right-wing political rivals. Rousseff has denounced the proceedings and called for early elections to unite the country. Rousseff’s impeachment stems from accusations she tampered with government accounts to hide a budget deficit. She was suspended earlier this year and has maintained her innocence, accusing her political opponents of spearheading the proceedings to shield themselves from prosecution and undo years of progressive policies. The Brazilian group Transparency Brazil says 60 percent of Brazilian lawmakers are currently under criminal investigation or have already been convicted of crimes ranging from corruption to election fraud. Rousseff’s opponents now need 54 votes, or two-thirds of the 81-seat Senate, to convict her of violating budget laws. Her impeachment would end 13 years of left-wing Workers’ Party rule in Brazil and bring to power interim President Michel Temer for the remaining two years of Rousseff’s term. Temer is also deeply unpopular and currently under investigation himself, accused of receiving illegal campaign contributions linked to the state oil company Petrobras.

Glenn Greenwald, Juan González, Amy Goodman: As Bernie Sanders Condemns “Coup” in Brazil, Why Have Obama & Clinton Been So Silent? (Democracy Now)

Gregory Elich: THAAD Comes to Korea, But at What Cost? (CounterPunch)

The recent announcement that South Korea had agreed to deployment of a Terminal High Altitude Area Defense (THAAD) system on its territory marks an important advance in the Obama Administration’s militarized Asia pivot. The THAAD battery threatens to destabilize the military balance of power and draw South Korea into an anti-China alliance with the United States and Japan.
The decision came as the culmination of a long and determined campaign by U.S. political and military leaders to pressure the Park Geun-hye government into sacrificing its national interests and antagonize China, in order to serve U.S. geopolitical goals.

Glenn Greenwald: Why Did the Saudi Regime and Other Gulf Tyrannies Donate Millions to the Clinton Foundation? (Democracy Now)

That the Clinton Foundation has done some good work is beyond dispute. But that fact has exactly nothing to do with the profound ethical problems and corruption threats raised by the way its funds have been raised. Hillary Clinton was America’s chief diplomat, and tyrannical regimes such as the Saudis and Qataris jointly donated tens of millions of dollars to an organization run by her family and operated in its name, one whose works has been a prominent feature of her public persona. That extremely valuable opportunity to curry favor with the Clintons, and to secure access to them, continues as she runs for president.”

Glenn Greenwald, Amy Goodman: Journalists Should Not Stop Scrutinizing Clinton Just Because Trump is Unfit for Office (Democracy Now)
Glenn Greenwald, Amy Goodman: Obama Has Bombed 7 Nations, But Clinton Claims He Has Not Been Militaristic Enough (Democracy Now)
Ben Norton: Arrest warrant issued for journalist Amy Goodman after reporting on Dakota Access oil pipeline protests (Salon)

North Dakota authorities have issued an arrest warrant for the prominent radio and TV journalist Amy Goodman, in response to her coverage of protests at the construction site for a massive oil pipeline…
Democracy Now exposed private security forces’ use of attack dogs and pepper spray. Footage captured by the news outlet show several guards intimidating and repressing protesters.
An activist told Goodman that one of the attack dogs bit another protester in the face. Democracy Now captured video of the dog with blood in its mouth and nose.

Sam Levin: North Dakota arrest warrant for Amy Goodman raises fears for press freedom (Guardian)

North Dakota police have issued an arrest warrant for the Democracy Now! host Amy Goodman, who has been reporting on the Native American protests against an oil pipeline, accusing her of entering “private property” to conduct interviews.
The charges have raised concerns about possible free speech violations and press intimidation, since the Morton county sheriff’s office accused the award-winning broadcast journalist after Democracy Now! filmed security guards working for the Dakota access pipeline using dogs and pepper spray on protesters.

Edgardo Lander: The implosion of Venezuela’s rentier state (PDF; Transnational Institute)

The main trigger of the crisis Venezuela is undergoing today – though obviously not its only cause – was the collapse in oil prices over the last three years. From US$100 per barrel in 2013, the average price of Venezuelan crude went down to US$88.42 in 2014 and US$44.65 in 2015, falling to its lowest level in February 2016, when it was worth just US$24.25. Far from accepting that an alternative to capitalism necessarily had to be a departure from the destructive development model of unlimited growth, and far from questioning the rentier petro-state model, the government of President Chávez intensified it to extremes unknown in the country’s previous history. Over the 17 years of the Bolivarian project, the economy became steadily more dependent on oil income. Without that income, it would not have been possible to import the goods required to meet people’s basic needs, including a wide range of items that used to be produced in Venezuela. During that time, welfare policy was seen as more of a priority than changing the economic model. Income poverty was reduced, but without altering the structural conditions that perpetuate exclusion.

DPA: Hamas Should Be Taken Off Terror List, EU Legal Adviser Says (Haaretz)

Decision to blacklist the Gaza group was improperly based on media reports, not a thorough investigation, Eleanor Sharpston claims ahead of European Court of Justice ruling on Hamas’ appeal.

Barak Ravid: EU Court Orders Hamas Removed From Terror List (Haaretz)

The General Court of the European Union in Luxembourg accepted the petition by Hamas in which it sought to have itself removed from the EU’s list of terrorist organizations.
The court postponed implementing the ruling for three months to allow for the EU commission or one of the EU’s 28 member states to petition the decision, which drew praise from Hamas and condemnation from Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu.

Gideon Levy, Alex Levac: Before Firing at a Palestinian, the Israeli Sniper Asked: Where Do You Want to Be Shot? (Haaretz; also via Google News)

Four rounds of sniper fire hit Mohammed Amassi, a young Palestinian baker standing on the roof of his home in the Al-Fawwar refugee camp. As he tries now to recover from his wounds, he still remembers the mocking words of the soldier who shot him.

What Arab witnesses have said for decades is now confirmed by Israelis:
Aluf Benn: Israeli Soldiers Killed Dozens of POWs in Past War, Affair Was Hushed Up (Haaretz; also via Google News)

According to testimony obtained by Haaretz, captives were ordered to line up and turn around, before they were shot in the back. The officer who gave the order was released after serving seven months in prison, while his commander was promoted to a high-ranking post.

Brazil | Wikileaks | Israel

A very good article with background on Brazil:
Perry Anderson: Crisis in Brazil (London Review of Books)

The BRIC countries are in trouble. China, … Russia: under siege, … India: holding up best, but unsettling statistical revisions. South Africa: in free fall… Nowhere, however, have economic and political crises fused so explosively as in Brazil, whose streets have in the past year seen more protesters than the rest of the world combined.

Even more background, in Portuguese and published in July 2015:
André Singer: Cutucando onças com varas curtas – O ensaio desenvolvimentista no primeiro mandato de Dilma Rousseff (Novos Estudios, July 2015)
Democracy Now had a long interview with Noam Chomsky. They also talked briefly about Brazil.
Amy Goodman, Noam Chomsky: Climate Change & Nuclear Proliferation Pose the Worst Threat Ever Faced by Humans | Today’s GOP is a Candidate for Most Dangerous Organization in Human History (Democracy Now)

What’s happening in Brazil now is extremely unfortunate in many ways. First of all, there has been a massive level of corruption. Regrettably, the Workers’ Party, Lula’s party, which had a real opportunity to achieve something extremely significant, and did make some considerable positive changes, nevertheless joined the rest—the traditional elite in just wholesale robbery. And that should—that should be punished. On the other hand, what’s happening now, … is … a kind of a soft coup. The elite detested the Workers’ Party and is using this opportunity to get rid of the party that won the elections. They’re not waiting for the elections, which they’d probably lose, but they want to get rid of it, exploiting an economic recession, which is serious, and the massive corruption that’s been exposed. But as even The New York Times pointed out, Dilma Rousseff is maybe the one politician who hasn’t—leading politician who hasn’t stolen in order to benefit herself. She’s being charged with manipulations in the budget, which are pretty standard in many countries, taking from one pocket and putting it into another. Maybe it’s a misdeed of some kind, but certainly doesn’t justify impeachment. In fact, … we have the one leading politician who hasn’t stolen to enrich herself, who’s being impeached by a gang of thieves, who have done so.

Patrick Wintour: Sweden asks to meet Julian Assange inside Ecuador embassy (Guardian)

Ecuador has received a formal request from the Swedish authorities to interview Julian Assange, inside its London embassy, in a potential breakthrough to the long-running saga…
Ecuador has been asking throughout Assange’s stay that he be interviewed inside the embassy, and said it welcomed the apparent Swedish “change of heart, and signs of a new political will”.
Ecuador’s foreign minister, Dr Guillaume Long, said on Monday, …: “Interviewing Mr Assange inside the embassy has been Ecuador’s request for four years. Over 4,400 days we have been asking the Swedes to come and interrogate him in our embassy. So it is welcome there has been change of heart and some sign of political will.
“But since November 2010 and March 2015 Sweden made 44 such requests to other countries to interview suspects in other cases. So it is very common and could be easily done, but we faced total refusal for years.”

Andy McSmith: Ecuador must stop protecting Julian Assange and ‘bring case to a close’, says UK (Independent)

Jacob Kornbluh: Trump Says U.S. Should Consider Racial Profiling, Cites Israel as a Role Model (Haaretz)

‘You look at Israel and you look at others and they do it and they do it successfully,’ presumptive Republican nominee says, though it wasn’t immediately clear how the tactic should be employed.

‘If You Don’t Think Walls Work, Just Ask Israel,’ Says Trump (Haaretz)
Dan Williams: Israeli Minister Justifies Security ‘Profiling’ Hailed by Trump (Haaretz)

‘Ultimately these (security) apparatuses… must build a profile of characteristics as to where the danger comes from and locate it,’ Yisrael Katz tells foreign reporters.

Chemi Shalev: On Walls and Racial Profiling, Trump Damns Israel With Loud Praise (Haaretz)

One can argue whether Israel is or isn’t a light unto the nations, but it has certainly served as role model for Donald Trump in recent weeks. On Monday, Trump cited Israel’s “success” as a reason for American to rethink its attitude towards racial profiling. In the past, he has praised the efficacy of Israeli barriers in keeping out terrorists and illegal immigrants as an inspiration for the controversial wall he wants to build along the U.S. border with Mexico.

Israeli Court Rules to Keep Palestinian Clown in Jail Without Trial (Haaretz)

Mohammed Abu Saha’s arrest sparked an international campaign by circus performers for his release. Though no charges have been filed against him, Shin Bet claims he’s a member of the PFLP terrorist group.

Brazil | Panama Papers | Nuclear Weapons | Greece | Israel/Palestine

Alfredo Saad-Filho: A Coup in Brazil? (Jacobin)

Brazil’s right is determined to remove Dilma Rousseff from power and cripple any movements to her left.

Glenn Greenwald, Andrew Fishman, David Miranda: Brazil Is Engulfed by Ruling Class Corruption — and a Dangerous Subversion of Democracy | O Brasil está sendo engolido pela corrupção – e por uma perigosa subversão da democracia (Intercept)
Amy Goodman, Nermeen Shaikh: Glenn Greenwald: Is It A Coup? What Is Happening in Brazil is Much Worse Than Donald Trump (Democracy Now)

Brazil is facing its worst political crisis in over two decades as opponents of Brazilian President Dilma Rousseff attempt to impeach her on corruption charges. But Rousseff is refusing calls to resign, saying the impeachment proceedings against her amount to undemocratic attempts by the right-wing opposition to oust her from power. On Wednesday, former Brazilian President Luiz Inácio Lula da Silva called the impeachment proceedings against Rousseff an attempted “coup d’état.”

Amy Goodman, Juan González, Andrew Fishman, Mark Weisbrot: Is the U.S. Backing Rousseff’s Ouster in Brazil? Opposition Holds Talks in D.C. as Obama Stays Quiet (Democracy Now)
Glenn Greenwald, Andrew Fishman, David Miranda: After Vote to Remove Brazil’s President, Key Opposition Figure Holds Meetings in Washington | Porque o Sen. Aloysio Nunes foi a Washington um dia depois da votação do impeachment? (Intercept)

Margaret Kimberley: The Panama Papers Problem (CounterPunch)

The Panama tax haven leaks reveal a lot about the lawlessness of the rich, as well as the ideological bias of the western press. “Vladimir Putin’s name appears nowhere, but the corporate media used his image repeatedly to drum up interest in what is an otherwise newsworthy story.” Americans are conspicuous by their absence from the story. That’s because rich people in the U.S. can avoid taxes “legally in Wyoming, Delaware or Nevada.” …
The documents now known as the Panama Papers were leaked to the German newspaper Suddeutsche Zeitung (SZ) who then shared them with the International Consortium of Investigative Journalists (ICIJ). ICIJ is a non-profit but with its own problematic origins. It is funded in part by the Ford Foundation, Open Society Foundation, Kellogg Foundation and the Rockefeller Family Fund. ICIJ then worked with journalists around the world including from the Guardian and the McClatchy newspaper chain. They in turn will decide what will be kept secret and what will be shared with the public. The goal of revealing secrets instead turns into a plan to keep more secrets and to tarnish certain reputations based on bias and mysterious criteria.
The Panama Papers show that the heads of state of Ukraine, Iceland, Argentina, Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates all held shell holding company accounts in different tax haven locations. Vladimir Putin’s name appears nowhere but the corporate media used his image repeatedly to drum up interest in what is an otherwise newsworthy story…
While news outlets ranging from the Guardian to the New York Times do their best to connect Putin to the Mossack Fonseca scandal without evidence, the prime minister of the United Kingdom and the president of Ukraine are directly involved.

John Pilger: A world war has begun. Break the silence. (johnpilger.com)

In 2009, President Obama stood before an adoring crowd in the centre of Prague, in the heart of Europe. He pledged himself to make “the world free from nuclear weapons”. People cheered and some cried. A torrent of platitudes flowed from the media. Obama was subsequently awarded the Nobel Peace Prize.
It was all fake. He was lying.
The Obama administration has built more nuclear weapons, more nuclear warheads, more nuclear delivery systems, more nuclear factories. Nuclear warhead spending alone rose higher under Obama than under any American president. The cost over thirty years is more than $1 trillion.
A mini nuclear bomb is planned. It is known as the B61 Model 12. There has never been anything like it. General James Cartwright, a former Vice Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, has said, “Going smaller [makes using this nuclear] weapon more thinkable.”
In the last eighteen months, the greatest build-up of military forces since World War Two—led by the United States—is taking place along Russia’s western frontier. Not since Hitler invaded the Soviet Union have foreign troops presented such a demonstrable threat to Russia.
Ukraine—once part of the Soviet Union—has become a CIA theme park. Having orchestrated a coup in Kiev, Washington effectively controls a regime that is next door and hostile to Russia: a regime rotten with Nazis, literally. Prominent parliamentary figures in Ukraine are the political descendants of the notorious OUN and UPA fascists. They openly praise Hitler and call for the persecution and expulsion of the Russian speaking minority…
In Latvia, Lithuania and Estonia — next door to Russia – the US military is deploying combat troops, tanks, heavy weapons. This extreme provocation of the world’s second nuclear power is met with silence in the West.
What makes the prospect of nuclear war even more dangerous is a parallel campaign against China.

Alastair Crooke: The ‘Hybrid War’ of Economic Sanctions (Consortium News)

U.S. politicians love the “silver bullet” of economic sanctions to punish foreign adversaries, but the weapon’s overuse is driving China and Russia to develop countermeasures.

Costas Lapavitsas, Daniel Munevar: SYRIZA, The IMF And The EU: Gambling With The Future Of Greece (Social Europe)

The latest flare up regarding Greece has followed publication by Wikileaks of illegally taped discussions among IMF officials. To analyse the significance of this event it is vital to bear one point in mind: Greece cannot meet the terms of the bailout agreement struck on July 2015 by Prime Minister, Alexis Tsipras. The agreement is effectively dead and all parties involved are aware of that, even if they are not openly admitting it…
[The] Greek government … signed up to the bailout in direct contravention of everything that it had promised to do in 2015. As the reality of its deception and the harshness of the squeeze have begun to sink in, electoral support for Tsipras has vanished.
All competent polls show the opposition New Democracy – with a new leader – comfortably ahead. The outlook has become even worse for SYRIZA via the refugee wave, which has turned Greece into a kind of EU repository for refugees and migrants…

Joshua Sperber: BDS, Israel, and the World System (Journal of Palestine Studies)
This article comes with a list of recommended reading:

  • Jonathan Nitzan, Shimshon Bichler: The Global Political Economy of Israel. London/Sterling: Pluto, 2002. (cf. gen.lib.rus.ec/book/…)
  • Abu-Manneh Bashir: “Israel in the U.S. Empire,” Monthly Review 58, no. 10 (March 2007).
  • Noam Chomsky: The Fateful Triangle: The United States, Israel, and the Palestinians. Boston: South End Press, 1983.
  • Gershon Shafir: Land, Labor, and the Origins of the Israeli–Palestinian Conflict, 1882–1914. Cambridge / New York: Cambridge University Press, 1989.
  • Joel Kovel: Overcoming Zionism: Creating a Single Democratic State in Israel/Palestine. London: Pluto Press, 1987. (chapter 5)
  • Laurence J. Silberstein (ed.) Postzionism: A Reader. New Brunswick: Rutgers University Press, 2008.
  • Ilan Pappe: A History of Modern Palestine: One Land, Two Peoples. Cambridge / New York: Cambridge University Press, 2004.

Jonathan Cook: Execution of Palestinian Exposes Israel’s Military Culture (CounterPunch)

It might have been a moment that jolted Israelis to their senses. Instead the video of an Israeli soldier shooting dead a young Palestinian man as he lay wounded and barely able to move has only intensified the tribal war dance of the Israeli public.
Last week, as the soldier was brought before a military court for investigation, hundreds of supporters protested outside. He enjoys vocal support too from half a dozen cabinet ministers, former army generals, rabbis and – according to opinion polls – a significant majority of the Israeli Jewish public…
The past six months has seen a wave of desperate attacks by Palestinians – mostly improvised, using knives and cars – to end the occupation. Some 190 Palestinians have been killed in this period.
A number of the incidents have been captured on film. In a shocking proportion, Palestinians – including children – have been shot dead even when they posed no threat to Israeli soldiers or civilians. In military parlance, this is called “confirming the kill”.
The latest video is distinctive not only because the evidence is so indisputable but because it exposes Israel’s wider military culture.
When the soldier took his shot, his comrades registered not the least surprise that their prisoner had just been executed.

Richard Silverstein: Israeli Minster Calls for “Civil Targeted Killings” of BDS Leaders (Tikkun Olam)

The Yediot Achronot conference attacking BDS has become a veritable carnival of hate. Everyone from delusional Hollywood celebrities (Roseanne Barr) to cabinet ministers, to the leader of the Opposition have pledged fealty to the cause. Two of the speakers are under criminal investigation for corrupt political or financial dealings.
But the apogee came yesterday when Intelligence Minister Israel Katz called for the “civil targeted killing” of BDS leaders like Omar Barghouti. The phrase he used (sikul ezrahi memukad) derives from the euphemistic Hebrew phrase for the targeted killing of a terrorist (the literal meaning is “targeted thwarting”). But the added word ” civil” makes it something different.

Ahmad al-Bazz: Palestinians protest surge in home demolitions by Israeli army (+972)

The Israeli army has displaced more Palestinians since the start of this year than it did in all of 2015, the UN reports. Dozens protest the fourth such demolition in Khirbet Tana in recent months.

Amy Goodman, Nermeen Shaikh, Eric Fair: Ex-Abu Ghraib Interrogator: Israelis Trained U.S. to Use “Palestinian Chair” Torture Device (Democracy Now)
Black Friday. Carnage in Rafah (Amnesty International)

There is overwhelming evidence that Israeli forces committed disproportionate, or otherwise indiscriminate, attacks which killed scores of civilians in their homes, on the streets and in vehicles and injured many more. This includes repeatedly firing artillery and other imprecise explosive weapons in densely populated civilian areas during the attacks on Rafah between 1 and 4 August [2014]. In some cases, there are indications that they directly fired at and killed civilians, including people fleeing.

Brazil | Greece | Panama Papers

Glenn Greenwald, Andrew Fishman, David Miranda: Brazil Is Engulfed by Ruling Class Corruption — and a Dangerous Subversion of Democracy (Intercept)

Brazil’s extraordinary political upheaval shares some similarities with the Trump-led political chaos in the U.S.: a sui generis, out-of-control circus unleashing instability and some rather dark forces, with a positive ending almost impossible to imagine. The once-remote prospect of President Dilma Rousseff’s impeachment now seems likely.
But one significant difference with the U.S. is that Brazil’s turmoil is not confined to one politician. The opposite is true, as Romero notes: “almost every corner of the political system [is] under the cloud of scandal.” That includes not only Rousseff’s moderately left-wing Workers Party, or PT — which is rife with serious corruption — but also the vast majority of the centrist and right-wing political and economic factions working to destroy PT, which are drowning in at least an equal amount of criminality. In other words, PT is indeed deeply corrupt and awash in criminal scandal, but so is virtually every political faction working to undermine it and vying to seize that party’s democratically obtained power…
Put simply, this is a campaign to subvert Brazil’s democratic outcomes by monied factions that have long hated the results of democratic elections, deceitfully marching under an anti-corruption banner: quite similar to the 1964 coup. Indeed, much of the Brazilian right longs for restoration of the military dictatorship, and factions at these “anti-corruption” protests have been openly calling for the end of democracy.
None of this is a defense of PT. Both because of genuine widespread corruption in that party and national economic woes, Dilma and PT are intensely unpopular among all classes and groups, even including the party’s working-class base. But the street protests — as undeniably large and energized as they have been — are driven by those who are traditionally hostile to PT.

Julian Assange: Destroy Greece: ΙΜF and Europe disagree on the method! (Defend Democracy Press)

Today, 2nd April 2016, WikiLeaks publishes the records of a 19 March 2016 teleconference between the top two IMF officials in charge of managing the Greek debt crisis – Poul Thomsen, the head of the IMF’s European Department, and Delia Velkouleskou, the IMF Mission Chief for Greece. The IMF anticipates a possible Greek default co-inciding with the United Kingdom’s referendum on whether it should leave the European Union (‘Brexit’).
“This is going to be a disaster” remarks Velkouleskou in the meeting.
According to the internal discussion, the IMF is planning to tell Germany that it will abandon the Troika (composed of the IMF, European Commission and the European Central Bank) if the IMF and the Commission fail to reach an agreement on Greek debt relief…
In August the IMF announced it would not participate in last year’s €86 billion Greek bailout, which was covered by EU member states. IMF Chief Christine Lagarde stated at the time that the IMF’s future participation was contingent on Greece receiving “significant debt relief” from creditors. Lagarde announced that a team would be sent to Greece, headed by Velkouleskou.
Thomsen said internally that the threat of an imminent financial catstrophe is needed to force the other players into a “decision point”. For Germany, on debt relief, and In the case of Greece, to accept the IMF’s austerity “measures,” — including raising taxes and cutting Greek pensions and working conditions.

Juliette Garside, Holly Watt, David Pegg: The Panama Papers: how the world’s rich and famous hide their money offshore (Guardian)

The hidden wealth of some of the world’s most prominent leaders, politicians and celebrities has been revealed by an unprecedented leak of millions of documents that show the myriad ways in which the rich can exploit secretive offshore tax regimes…
Twelve national leaders are among 143 politicians, their families and close associates from around the world known to have been using offshore tax havens…
The families of at least eight current and former members of China’s supreme ruling body, the politburo, have been found to have hidden wealth offshore.

The Panama Papers. Politicians, Criminals and the Rogue Industry That Hides Their Cash (International Consortium of Investigative Journalists)
Panama Papers. Die Geheimnisse des schmutzigen Geldes (Süddeutsche Zeitung)
Corporate Media Gatekeepers Protect Western 1% From Panama Leak (Craig Murray)

Whoever leaked the Mossack Fonseca papers appears motivated by a genuine desire to expose the system that enables the ultra wealthy to hide their massive stashes, often corruptly obtained and all involved in tax avoidance. These Panamanian lawyers hide the wealth of a significant proportion of the 1%, and the massive leak of their documents ought to be a wonderful thing.
Unfortunately the leaker has made the dreadful mistake of turning to the western corporate media to publicise the results. In consequence the first major story, published today by the Guardian, is all about Vladimir Putin and a cellist on the fiddle. As it happens I believe the story and have no doubt Putin is bent.
But why focus on Russia? Russian wealth is only a tiny minority of the money hidden away with the aid of Mossack Fonseca. In fact, it soon becomes obvious that the selective reporting is going to stink.
The Suddeutsche Zeitung, which received the leak, gives a detailed explanation of the methodology the corporate media used to search the files. The main search they have done is for names associated with breaking UN sanctions regimes. The Guardian reports this too and helpfully lists those countries as Zimbabwe, North Korea, Russia and Syria. The filtering of this Mossack Fonseca information by the corporate media follows a direct western governmental agenda. There is no mention at all of use of Mossack Fonseca by massive western corporations or western billionaires – the main customers. And the Guardian is quick to reassure that “much of the leaked material will remain private.”
What do you expect? The leak is being managed by the grandly but laughably named “International Consortium of Investigative Journalists”, which is funded and organised entirely by the USA’s Center for Public Integrity. Their funders include

  • Ford Foundation
  • Carnegie Endowment
  • Rockefeller Family Fund
  • W K Kellogg Foundation
  • Open Society Foundation (Soros)

among many others. Do not expect a genuine expose of western capitalism. The dirty secrets of western corporations will remain unpublished.

Robert Mackey: Panama Papers Leak Sparks Protests in Iceland Over Prime Minister’s Secret Finances (Intercept)

Glenn Greenwald: Fighting Israeli Occupying Forces Is “Terrorism.” Boycotting Is “Anti-Semitism.” What’s Allowed? (Intercept)

BRICS

This is a long article that provides material for a whole series of important debates.
Patrick Bond: In Fortaleza, BRICS Became Co-Dependent Upon Eco-Financial Imperialism (teleSUR, 29 July 2014; also on ZNet)

[C]ritics are opening up two crucial debates: first, is BRICS anti-imperialist as advertised, or potentially inter-imperialist as the Ukraine battleground portends, or merely sub-imperialist where it counts most: in the ongoing global financial and climate meltdowns?
Second, how can BRICS-from-below struggles intensify and link? The detox of our corrupted politics, a sober reassessment of our economies and fortification our ecologies – all catalysed by re-energized civil societies – rely upon clear, confident answers to both.

The article above contains many links to other articles and background material on the BRICS.

On the BRICS bank and other general issues:
BRICS bank helps stabilize global order (Xinhua, 16 July 2014)
Ousmène Jacques Mandeng: Does the world really need a Brics bank? (Financial Times, 14 July 2014)
Ana Garcia, Patrick Bond: Critical perspectives on the Brics (Center for Civil Society / South Africa Social Protests Observatory, June 2014)
John Weeks: The BRICS bank (Open Democracy)
Stephany Griffith-Jones: A BRICS Development Bank: A Dream Coming True? (UNCTAD, March 2014)
Victoria Ruan: World Bank chief backs launch of BRICS bank (; 9 July 2015)
Oliver Stuenkel: Towards institutionalization: The BRICS Contingency Reserve Arrangement (Post-Western World, 12 May 2013)
Sixth BRICS Summit: Fortaleza Declaration and Action Plan (Itamaraty)
Treaty for the Establishment of a BRICS Contingent Reserve Arrangement (Itamaraty, 15 July 2014)
Climate Change and Financial Instability Seen as Top Global Threats (Pew Research Centre)
Infrastructure: for people or for profit? (Heinrich-Böll-Stiftung, October 2014)

On South Africa:
Ronnie Kasrils: How the ANC’s Faustian pact sold out South Africa’s poorest (Guardian, 24 June 2013)
Richard Kamidza, Patrick Bond: The Development Bank of Southern Africa and financial oppression (Pambazuka, 10 April 2014)
Patrick Bond: South Africa’s Resource Curses and Growing Social Resistance (Monthly Review, April 2014)
Peter Alexander, Carin Runciman, Trevor Ngwane: Growing civil unrest shows yearning for accountability (Business Day, 7 March 2014)

On India:
Dipanjan Roy Chaudhury: Good relations of BJP leaders with Israel; India treads a cautious line on ongoing conflict in Gaza (Economic Times, 23 July 2014)

On China (an old article):
Jamil Anderlini: China insists on ‘tied aid’ in Africa (Financial Times, 25 June 2007)

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)

Brazil | Guantánamo | Edward Snowden

John recommended this article:
Thoms Rotta: Brazil 2013: Mass Demonstrations, the World Cup, and 500 Years of Oppression (CounterPunch)

Brazil has a long history of top-down reforms that have inadequately addressed the profound inequality that divides the country. The mass demonstrations, provoked by public transportation fare increases and World Cup costs, are finally calling attention to issues that cannot be solved by minor changes, indicating things might be different this time.

George J. Annas, Sondra S. Crosby, Leonard H. Glantz: Guantanamo Bay: A Medical Ethics–free Zone? (New England Journal of Medicine)

American physicians have not widely criticized medical policies at the Guantanamo Bay detainment camp that violate medical ethics. We believe they should. … How should physicians respond? That force-feeding of mentally competent hunger strikers violates basic medical ethics principles is not in serious dispute. … Nevertheless, the DOD has sent about 40 additional medical personnel to help force-feed the hunger strikers. … Physicians can no more ethically force-feed mentally competent hunger strikers than they can ethically conduct research on competent humans without informed consent. … Force-feeding a competent person is not the practice of medicine; it is aggravated assault.

Peter Lee: Snowden and the three wise NSA whistleblowers (Asia Times)

Whistleblowing is a risky business. I expect that, as they planned their course of action over the four months, Edward Snowden and his main media minder, Glenn Greenwald, paid very close attention to what happened to three past whistleblowers who crossed the NSA. And looking at these three men gives an idea of the interests, principles and powers that are being contested beneath the superficially simple tale of a young analyst who fled to Hong Kong to tell the world about runaway US government surveillance.

John Sexton: America’s PR disaster over Snowden (China.org.cn)

They seek him here, they seek him there. Snowden the young whistleblower is making a fool of Obama.