Qatar | Syria | EU

Dan Glazebrook: The Qatar blockade, petro-yuan & coming war on Iran (RT)

Qatar hasn’t been playing ball with the US-approved, Saudi-led ‘isolate Iran’ program. Partly because Doha has made independence from Riyadh a hallmark of its foreign policy, but mostly because Qatar and Iran share the world’s largest natural gas field.

Pepe Escobar: Blood on the Tracks of the New Silk Roads (CounterPunch)

China’s cardinal foreign policy imperative is to refrain from interfering abroad while advancing the proverbial good relations with key political actors – even when they may be at each other’s throats.
Still, it’s nothing but gut-wrenching for Beijing to watch the current, unpredictable, Saudi-Qatari standoff. There’s no endgame in sight, as plausible scenarios include even regime change and a seismic geopolitical shift in Southwest Asia – what a Western-centric view calls the Middle East…
Russia – the Beltway’s favorite evil entity – is getting closer and closer to Qatar, ever since the game-changing acquisition in early December by the Qatar Investment Authority (QIA) of 19.5% of the crown energy giant Rosneft.
That translates into an economic/political alliance of the world’s top two gas exporters; and that explains why Doha – still holding a permanent office at NATO’s HQ – has abruptly thrown its “moderate rebels” in Syria under the (economic) bus.

Settlement, Soft Coup, Realignment or Regional War: 4 Scenarios for Qatar Crisis (Sputnik)

Jonathan Cook: After Hersh Investigation, Media Connive in Propaganda War on Syria (CounterPunch)

If you wish to understand the degree to which a supposedly free western media are constructing a world of half-truths and deceptions to manipulate their audiences, keeping us uninformed and pliant, then there could hardly be a better case study than their treatment of Pulitzer prize-winning investigative journalist Seymour Hersh.
All of these highly competitive, for-profit, scoop-seeking media outlets separately took identical decisions: first to reject Hersh’s latest investigative report, and then to studiously ignore it once it was published in Germany last Sunday. They have continued to maintain an absolute radio silence on his revelations, even as over the past few days they have given a great deal of attention to two stories on the very issue Hersh’s investigation addresses.

Aidan O’Brien: Where Did Britain’s Racists Go? (CounterPunch)

[P]rogressives can’t see the all encompassing class-hatred that forms the essential core of the EU and which actually spawns – among other hellish things – racism. The irony is that those who love the EU because of it’s “anti-racist” (“anti-nazi” or “anti-nationalist”) credentials have ended up supporting a fanatically austere regime that promotes the social divisions (as well as the international divisions) that are the foundation stone of racism. And war.
The votes for Brexit and Jeremy Corbyn were both positively anti-systemic. Progressives got the meaning of the second vote but misunderstood the first. In general that misunderstanding was a case of the people or the working classes being way ahead of the political class. No sign of this has been greater than the gap between the people and the mainstream media. After ridiculing Brexit and Corbyn the media – in the light of the results of the last year – now barely have any ground to stand on. That’s because the media represent the “politically correct neoliberal class” and nothing more. The battle lines are clear and solid for the people however. And they’re on the terrain of class rather than race.
Britain’s racists do exist nonetheless.
And at this moment they’re propping up Theresa May’s minority government. The Democratic Unionist Party (DUP) from the north east of Ireland are “Ireland’s Israelis”. And now they’re Britain’s kingmakers.

Nivedita Majumdar: Silencing the Subaltern. Resistance & Gender in Postcolonial Theory (Catalyst)

One of the central claims of postcolonial theory is that it upholds the social agency of dominated groups. This paper focuses on some of the foundational texts in the field by Ranajit Guha, Gayatri Spivak and Homi Bhabha to examine how they analyze the place of resistance in gender relations. It shows that there is a considerable gap between what the theorists claim to show and what they actually argue in these texts. Instead of upholding women’s resistance to patriarchy, they redefine agency so that acquiescence to patriarchy is presented as a struggle against it. This calls into question the contribution that postcolonial theory can make to subaltern politics.

Sudan | Syria | USA | Korea | Britain

Nick Turse: Ghost Nation (Harper’s)

South Sudan was an American nation-building experiment, the recipient of $11 billion in assistance since 2005—perhaps the largest investment the United States has made in sub-Saharan Africa. Washington and other international partners trained soldiers and mentored government officials, but they ignored the country’s stunted economic, military, and political development, which left South Sudan mired in corruption, ethnoracism, and violence. Six years after independence, most people still lack electricity, phone networks are spotty, and paved roads are nonexistent outside the capital, Juba.
In July 2013, South Sudan began to unravel. Riek Machar, the vice president—a member of the second-largest tribe, the Nuer—was fired by Kiir, then announced that he would challenge him in upcoming elections, which were never held. That December, government forces killed large numbers of Nuer soldiers and civilians on the streets of Juba. Rebel forces loyal to Machar responded, massacring Dinkas in villages and towns in the north.
In 2014, as the conflict raged between the ­S.P.L.A. and Machar’s rebels, known as the Sudan People’s Liberation Army—In Opposition (I.O.), Kiir visited the White House. A former guerrilla, he is often photographed in one of the cowboy hats given to him by President George W. Bush or Secretary of State John Kerry. Unwilling to pressure Kiir and the leaders they had fostered, the Obama Administration failed to impose a unilateral arms embargo. An eleventh-hour push for an international arms ban at the U.N. Security Council collapsed, in part because the outgoing administration lacked sufficient political capital. As a result, Kiir has been able to purchase $1 billion worth of arms, including tanks and helicopter gunships.
During the early stages of the current conflict, the south of the country had been largely spared. But South Sudan is riven by all manner of differences and enmities. In the north, the Dinka are cattle keepers. The south is made up of the Equatorias—Central, Western, and Eastern. The region is the breadbasket of the country, with fields of cassava, sorghum, peanuts, and maize and orchards of fruit trees. For years, Dinkas had moved huge herds into Equatorian farmland, and in 2015, these land grabs escalated into skirmishes between the ­S.P.L.A. and homegrown militias…
After South Sudan erupted in civil war in 2013, tens of thousands of civilians ran to United Nations bases, seeking protection from rampaging soldiers. Many have been stranded there ever since. Today, more than 200,000 South Sudanese live behind berms and razor wire in these sanctuaries-cum-prisons, 3.6 million have fled their homes, and more than 7.5 million need aid and protection…
Last November, the United Nations also began warning about the potential for genocide in South Sudan.

Seymour M. Hersh: Trump’ Red Line (Welt, free) Vergeltungsschlag in Syrien. Trumps rote Linie (Welt, behind paywall)

On April 6, United States President Donald Trump authorized an early morning Tomahawk missile strike on Shayrat Air Base in central Syria in retaliation for what he said was a deadly nerve agent attack carried out by the Syrian government two days earlier in the rebel-held town of Khan Sheikhoun. Trump issued the order despite having been warned by the U.S. intelligence community that it had found no evidence that the Syrians had used a chemical weapon.

Am 6. April 2017 gab US-Präsident Donald Trump den Befehl, mehrere Dutzend Tomahawk-Marschflugkörper abzuschießen. Ziel war der syrische Stützpunkt Al-Schairat. Die Raketen schlugen in den frühen Morgenstunden ein. Es sollte ein Vergeltungsschlag sein – für den Angriff des Assad-Regimes auf die Rebellen-Hochburg Chan Scheichun. Bei dieser Operation, so erklärte Trump, sei tödliches Nervengift eingesetzt worden. Dabei hatten die US-amerikanischen Nachrichtendienste den Präsidenten gewarnt: Es sei keinesfalls bewiesen, dass Assads Luftwaffe tatsächlich Chemiewaffen eingesetzt hatte.

Seymour M. Hersh: „We got a fuckin‘ problem“ (Welt)
Aaron Maté, Seymour M. Hersh:
Jonathan Cook:
Hersh’s New Syria Revelations Buried From View (CounterPunch)

Paradoxically, over the past decade, as social media has created a more democratic platform for information dissemination, the corporate media has grown ever more fearful of a truly independent figure like Hersh. The potential reach of his stories could now be enormously magnified by social media. As a result, he has been increasingly marginalised and his work denigrated. By denying him the credibility of a “respectable” mainstream platform, he can be dismissed for the first time in his career as a crank and charlatan. A purveyor of fake news…
Hersh’s new investigation was paid for by the London Review of Books, which declined to publish it. This is almost disturbing as the events in question.
What is emerging is a media blackout so strong that even the London Review of Books is running scared. Instead, Hersh’s story appeared yesterday in a German publication, Welt am Sonntag.

Reuters: US threatens Syria, says Assad is planning chemical weapons attack’ (Daily Star)

Sarah Dougherty, Scott A. Allen: Nuremberg Betrayed: Human Experimentation and the CIA Torture Program (Physicians for Human Rights)

PHR researchers show that CIA contract psychologists James Mitchell and Bruce Jessen created a research program in which health professionals designed and applied torture techniques and collected data on torture’s effects. This constitutes one of the gravest breaches of medical ethics by U.S. health personnel since the Nuremberg Code was developed in the wake of Nazi medical atrocities committed during World War Two.

Roy Eidelson: Heart of Darkness: Observations on a Torture Notebook (CounterPunch)

Just in time for the Trump Administration’s official embrace of brutality, we have another book defending torture: Enhanced Interrogation by psychologist James Mitchell. For those unfamiliar with the author, he’s a central figure in the Senate Intelligence Committee’s scathing 2014 report summary on CIA abuse. And he’s a co-defendant — for having “designed, implemented, and personally administered an experimental torture program” — in the ACLU’s lawsuit on behalf of three war-on-terror detainees (Suleiman Abdullah Salim, Mohamed Ahmed Ben Soud, and the estate of the deceased Gul Rahman).

Sheri Fink, James Risen: Psychologists Open a Window on Brutal C.I.A. Interrogations (New York Times)

A lawsuit filed on behalf of former prisoners reveals new details about a program that used techniques widely viewed as torture.

Heo Jae-hyun: North Korean defector desperately wants to go home, but is facing possible arrest (Hankyoreh)

A North Korean defector who has demanded repatriation, claiming she was tricked by a defection broker and came to South Korea by mistake, is once again in danger of arrest.
Police are closing in with their investigation of Kim Ryon-hui, 48, and considering requesting an arrest warrant for her on charges of National Security Law violations. In response, Kim and civic groups supporting her held a press conference on June 14 to demand her repatriation.

Will Ripley: Defector wants to return to North Korea (CNN)

Of the tens of thousands of North Koreans who have fled to South Korea since the Great Famine of the late 1990’s, only a rare few have ever asked to return.
Kim Ryon Hui is one of them. The Pyongyang dressmaker — turned North Korean defector — says she is trapped in South Korea and desperate to return to her family.

Mark Steel: Crazy Marxists want to give homes to Grenfell survivors – but thankfully we live in a fair capitalist society (Independent)

It’s the same with those communists who went down with blankets and food. They should have set up a pop-up bedding and hot chocolate store to tap into extensive market opportunities.

Britain | Refugees | Iraq | Israel/Palestine | USA

Jonathan Cook: The Facts Proving Corbyn’s Election Triumph (Defend Democracy Press)

Corbyn received 41 per cent of the vote, against May’s 44 per cent. Given the UK’s inherently flawed, first-past-the-post electoral system, he won some 50 fewer seats than the Conservatives, but that was still a big improvement on Labour’s share of seats in the last election, under Ed Miliband. There is now a hung parliament, and to survive May will need to depend on the votes of a small group of Northern Irish Ulster unionists, creating a deeply unstable government.
But how did Corbyn do in terms of the Labour vote compared to his recent predecessors? He won many more votes than Ed Miliband, Gordon Brown and Neil Kinnock, who were among those that, sometimes noisily, opposed his leadership of the party.
They lost their elections. But what about Corbyn’s share of the vote compared to Tony Blair, his most high-profile critic, whose many allies in the parliamentary Labour party sought relentlessly to subvert Corbyn’s leadership over the past two years and tried to bring him down, including by staging a leadership challenge last year.
Here are the figures for Blair’s three wins. He got a 36 per cent share of the vote in 2005 – much less than Corbyn. He received a 41 per cent of the vote – about the same as Corbyn – in 2001. And Blair’s landslide victory in 1997 was secured on 43 per cent of the vote, just two percentage points ahead of Corbyn last night.
In short, Corbyn has proved himself the most popular Labour leader with the electorate in more than 40 years, apart from Blair’s landslide victory in 1997. But let’s recall the price Blair paid for that very small margin of improvement over Corbyn’s vote. Behind the scenes, he sold Labour’s soul to the City, the corporations and their lobbyists. That Faustian pact secured Blair the backing of most of the British media, including Rupert Murdoch’s stable of papers and TV channel. The corporations mobilised their entire propaganda machine to get Blair into power. And yet he managed it with only 2 percentage points more than Corbyn, who had that same propaganda machine railing against him.
Also, unlike Corbyn, Blair did not have to endure a large section of his own party trying to destroy him from within.

Robert Mackey: After Election Setback, Theresa May Clings to Power in U.K. Thanks to Ulster Extremists (Intercept)

At the end of an election campaign that was nasty, brutish and short, British voters punished Prime Minister Theresa May at the polls on Thursday, depriving her Conservative Party of its governing majority in Parliament, and forcing her to rely on the support of a small party of extremists from Northern Ireland to stay in office.

Anna Momigliano: Italian forces ignored a sinking ship full of Syrian refugees and let more than 250 drown, says leaked audio (Washington Post)

Almost four years ago, 268 Syrian refugees — including 60 children — lost their lives in a shipwreck about 60 miles south of Lampedusa, a small Italian island that sits between Sicily and Tunisia. It was considered one of the worst tragedies of the European refugee crisis, but a leaked audiotape published Monday by the magazine L’Espresso suggested that Italian authorities let the Syrians drown despite being alerted several hours earlier that the refugees’ ship was in danger.

Mitch Potter, Michelle Shephard, Bruce Campion-Smith: Bound. Tortured. Killed. (Toronto Star)

Iraqi photojournalist Ali Arkady was embedded with who he thought were the good guys — an elite unit of Iraqi soldiers battling Daesh in the name of a united Iraq, strong and free once and for all. But as the battle for Mosul intensified, the Iraqis lost the plot, descending into torture and murder of civilians.

Mehdi Hasan: A 50-Year Occupation: Israel’s Six-Day War Started With a Lie / 50 anos de ocupação: A Guerra dos Seis Dias de Israel foi baseada em uma mentira (Intercept)

Fifty years ago, between June 5 and June 10, 1967, Israel invaded and occupied East Jerusalem, the West Bank, the Gaza Strip, and the Golan Heights. The Six-Day War, as it would later be dubbed, saw the Jewish David inflict a humiliating defeat on the Arab Goliath, personified perhaps by Gamal Abdel Nasser’s Egypt.
“The existence of the Israeli state hung by a thread,” the country’s prime minister, Levi Eshkol, claimed two days after the war was over, “but the hopes of the Arab leaders to annihilate Israel were dashed.” Genocide, went the argument, had been prevented; another Holocaust of the Jews averted.
There is, however, a problem with this argument: It is complete fiction, a self-serving fantasy constructed after the event to justify a war of aggression and conquest…
Above all else, the war … forced another 300,000 Palestinians from their homes and ushered in a brutal military occupation for the million-odd Palestinians left behind.
The conflict itself may have lasted only six days, but the occupation that followed is now entering its sixth decade — the longest military occupation in the world.

Gideon Levy: Fifty Years, Fifty Lies (Haaretz via Google News)

It began with the question of what to call the West Bank and Gaza. On Israel Radio it was decided to use the term ‘temporarily-held territories.’ This was lie No. 1

Gideon Levy, Alex Levac: What I’ve Seen in 30 Years of Reporting on the Israeli Occupation (Haaretz via Google News)

The occupation has its own language: An Arab is a ‘terrorist,’ detention without trial is ‘administrative,’ the occupying power is forever the victim and writing about its crimes is treason

Michael Sfard: Israel Is Not a Democracy (Haaretz via Google News)

A regime that allows only some of its subjects to take part in politics is not a democracy. True, Israel has an elected legislative branch, separation of powers and freedom of the press (all three of which, it should be said, are currently in danger). But for the past five decades, Israel has ruled millions of people who do not have the right to vote or to be elected to the systems that govern them. Israel not only denies them their civil rights, it plunders their land and resources, and transfers them to the most privileged of its citizens, and deprives them brutally and cruelly of independence and of a say in deciding their future.

Matthew Shaer: The Long, Lonely Road of Chelsea Manning (New York Times Magazine)

Her disclosure of classified documents in 2010 ushered in the age of leaks. Now, freed from prison, she talks about why she did it — and the isolation that followed.

USA | Russia | Israel/Palestine

Glenn Greenwald: Jeremy Corbyn Accused of Being Russian “Collaborator” for Questioning NATO Troop Build-Up on Border (Intercept)

The leader of the U.K.’s Labour Party, Jeremy Corbyn, called for a “de-escalation” of tensions between NATO and Russia, adding in a BBC interview on Thursday: “I want to see a de-militarization of the border between them.” Along with the U.S., the U.K. has been rapidly building up its military presence in the Baltic region, including in states that border Russia, and is now about to send another 800 troops to Estonia, 500 of which will be permanently based.
In response, Russia has moved its own troops within its country near those borders, causing serious military tensions to rise among multiple nuclear-armed powers. Throughout 2016, the Russian and U.S. militaries have engaged in increasingly provocative and aggressive maneuvers against one another. This week, the U.S. began deploying 4,000 troops to Poland, “the biggest deployment of U.S. troops in Europe since the end of the Cold War.”

Trump’s pick for CIA says he’s open to waterboarding (CNN)

President Donald Trump’s pick to run the CIA, Rep. Mike Pompeo, has told Congress that he would consider bringing back waterboarding and other enhanced interrogation measures under certain circumstances.

Ankit Panda: Rex Tillerson, Trump’s Secretary of State Nominee, Has a Dangerous Idea for the South China Sea (Diplomat)

Rex Tillerson, U.S. President-elect Donald Trump’s nominee for secretary of state, presented a proposal for what the United States should do in the South China Sea disputes on Wednesday that you don’t hear often — even among China hawks in the United States.
Speaking at a confirmation hearing the before the Senate Foreign Relations Committee on Wednesday evening, Tillerson remarked that China’s actions in the South China Sea — where it has most recently drawn attention for building seven militarized artificial islands in the Spratly Islands — were “akin to Russia’s taking [of] Crimea” from Ukraine…
Tillerson went further, and here he entered relatively uncharted territory: “We’re going to have to send China a clear signal that, first, the island-building stops and, second, your access to those islands also is not going to be allowed.”

Tom Phillips: China hits back at US over South China Sea ‘takeover’ claims (Guardian)

China has warned the US to “speak and act cautiously” after the White House said it would act to foil Chinese attempts to “take over” the South China Sea, amid growing hints that Donald Trump’s administration intends to challenge Beijing over the strategic waterway.
At a press conference in Beijing on Tuesday, the foreign ministry spokesperson, Hua Chunying, urged Washington to tread carefully “to avoid harming the peace and stability of the South China Sea”.
Hua was responding to comments made by White House press secretary, Sean Spicer, the previous day.
Speaking at a press briefing on Monday, Spicer vowed the US would “make sure that we protect our interests” in the resource-rich trade route, through which $4.5tn (£3.4tn) in trade passes each year.

Reuters: US ‘at very beginning’ of talks to move Israel embassy to Jerusalem (Guardian)

Washington’s embassy is in Tel Aviv, as are most foreign diplomatic posts. Israel calls Jerusalem its eternal capital, but Palestinians also lay claim to the city as part of an eventual Palestinian state. Both sides cite religious, historical and political claims.

Peter Beaumont: Israel announces 2,500 more West Bank settlement homes (Guardian)

Israel has approved a massive new building programme of Jewish settlement homes in the occupied Palestinian territories, following hard on the heels of the swearing-in of the US president, Donald Trump…
About 400,000 settlers live in the West Bank and a further 200,000 in East Jerusalem, which Israel seized in the 1967 Middle East war…
“We are building and we will continue to build,” Netanyahu wrote, in a brief Facebook post.

‘Not like Gitmo’: Israeli interrogators explain torture techniques to media (RT)

Israeli interrogators with experience in using ‘special means’ of interrogation, which involve inflicting physical pain on detainees, have described details of their methods to an Israeli newspaper…
[I]nterrogation using what Israel calls “special means” remains widespread. The UN Committee Against Torture last year cited continued complaints of torture by the Israeli Security Agency (ISA) as well as Israel’s refusal to implement the convention on occupied Palestinian territories and reluctance to criminalize torture among its concerns.

Chaim Levinson: Torture, Israeli-style – as Described by the Interrogators Themselves (Haaretz via Google News)

For years, the Israeli establishment has tried to conceal what happens in interrogation rooms. When interrogators use torture – or “special means,” to use the establishment’s term – the concealment efforts are redoubled. Even when testimony of torture reaches the public, the system does everything it can to leave the interrogators’ role in darkness, including signing lenient plea bargains with suspects who were tortured to ensure that the conspiracy of silence remains unbroken.
People who have undergone interrogation have described various methods, from interrogators screaming in their ear, to blows, to being forced into painful positions for long periods. To date, however, all these descriptions have come from the complainants.
But recently, a conversation among interrogators in the presence of several witnesses provided a chance to hear from the interrogators themselves about the kinds of torture used in major cases, who approved it and what information it produced…
In 1999, the High Court of Justice outlawed torture, which had been permitted until then. But subsequent regulations issued by then-Attorney General Elyakim Rubinstein said interrogators who nevertheless used torture wouldn’t stand trial if they could demonstrate that it was “immediately necessary to save his own or another person’s life, freedom, person or property from a concrete danger of serious harm,” and that “there was no other way to do so.”…
After the High Court issued its ruling, the torture techniques in use were changed, and they were also used less often. But in recent years, that trend has started to reverse.

Israel Must Stop the Torture (Haaretz via Google News)

The admissions by Shin Bet investigators published in Haaretz Tuesday confirm the claims that have been heard for years about torture during interrogations.

Syria | USA | Britain | Media

An interesting article on the balance of forces between the Syrian government, the Islamic State, Kurdish forces, Turkey and the US:
Timur Göksel: Will Trump see eye to eye with Erdogan’s plans in Iraq, Syria? (Al-Monitor)

US Joint Chiefs of Staff Chairman Joe Dunford visited Ankara Nov. 6 and held a 4½-hour meeting with his Turkish counterparts.
This sudden, unplanned visit led some to wonder if there was a rupture between Ankara’s strategic thinking on Iraq and Syria and the United States’ goals in the region.
Ankara is hoping to find harmony with the incoming US administration on its fight against the Islamic State…
In the Nov. 6 operation, about 25,000 YPG fighters who had been controlling the Kurdish cantons of Kobani and Jazeera turned their backs to Turkey and launched an assault toward Raqqa in the south. The Kurds practically vacated their two cantons and left them wide open to a possible offensive by Turkey…
Ankara has two main goals in Iraq: to increase Turkey’s effectiveness north of Mosul and thus become part of the Mosul operation, and to eliminate the PKK’s domination of the Sinjar area that forms a bridge between Iraq and Syria…
Many key names in Ankara believe that the Trump transition team will understand the dynamics of Iraq and Syria and support Ankara in its struggle against the PKK and PYD in northern Syria and against growing Shiite influence in Iraq.

Joseph Briefel: Should Baathists have role in post-IS Iraq? (AL-Monitor)

As the inevitable defeat of IS approaches, analysts and politicians are busy discussing life in Iraq after the group. Sectarian reconciliation, political autonomy and the role of external actors such as Turkey continue to dominate the media discourse.
One group that remains absent from post-liberation narratives is the former Baathists, who have played a complex role in Mosul’s recent history and have had a dysfunctional relationship with post-2003 governments in Baghdad. If the role of former Baathists is forgotten in post-IS Iraq, then many of the key issues that arose when IS entered Mosul in 2014 will likely return in the future.
The powerful role played by former Baathists in IS’s leadership structure is well known. Abu Muslim al-Turkmani, a lieutenant colonel in Saddam’s Intelligence Service, and Abu Ali al-Anbari, a former major general under Saddam, were IS’s former deputy commanders in Iraq and Syria.

Police Attack Water Protectors at Standing Rock—AGAIN (TeleSur)

Police fired rubber bullets and teargas at protesters against the Dakota Access pipeline after a standoff at a river nearby.

Police Unleash Military-Style Assault on Standing Rock Protesters (TeleSur)

Police were spraying protesters with water in sub-freezing temperatures and firing rubber bullets, reportedly injuring 167.

Tom Phillips: Climate change a Chinese hoax? Beijing gives Donald Trump a lesson in history (Guardian)

China has rejected Donald Trump’s claims that climate change is a Chinese hoax, urging the US president-elect to take a “smart decision” over his country’s commitment to the fight against global warming.

Yoav Haifawi: The Economist in China’s Wonderland (Free Haifa)

On November 12th 2016 The Economist published a short report from Shenzhen about what seems as a totally boring subject: Chinese courier firms. It comes, as usual, under a patronizing title “China’s express-delivery sector needs consolidation and modernization”. But it contains such a glaring and laughable combination of contradictions that I found it worth bringing here to you.

Ewen MacAskill: ‘Extreme surveillance’ becomes UK law with barely a whimper (Guardian)

A bill giving the UK intelligence agencies and police the most sweeping surveillance powers in the western world has passed into law with barely a whimper, meeting only token resistance over the past 12 months from inside parliament and barely any from outside.
The Investigatory Powers Act, passed on Thursday, legalises a whole range of tools for snooping and hacking by the security services unmatched by any other country in western Europe or even the US.

USA | Refugees | Iraq | Syria | Japan | Israel

T. J. Coles: “Confronting China”: John Pilger Talks about His New Film, America’s ‘Pivot to Asia’, and the Role of Japan and Australia (Plymouth Institute for Peace Research)

The Coming War on China is my 60th film and perhaps one of the most urgent. It continues the theme of illuminating the imposition of great power behind a facade of propaganda as news. In 2011, President Obama announced a ‘pivot to Asia’ of US forces: almost two-thirds of American naval power would be transferred to Asia and the Pacific by 2020.
The undeclared rationale for this was the ‘threat’ from China, by some measure now the greatest economic power. The Secretary of Defense, Ash Carter, says US policy is to confront those ‘who see America’s dominance and want to take that away from us’…
China is encircled by a ‘noose’ of some 400 US bases, yet the news has ignored this while concentrating on the ‘threat’ of China building airstrips on disputed islets in the South China Sea, clearly as a defence to a US Navy blockade.

Alan Travis: Calais’s refugee children are sleeping rough because of Tory policy (Guardian)

As 100 children spend the night outside following the camp clearance, observers count the cost of Theresa May’s tough stance

Amelia Gentleman: More than 1,000 children left in Calais camp, say charities (Guardian)

Charities in Calais have said that more than 1,000 children remain in shipping containers in the demolished camp, with inadequate food and water supplies and no information provided about their future.

Dakota Acces Pipeline (Democracy Now)

Democracy Now! coverage of resistance to the Dakota Access Pipeline. If completed, the $3.8 billion pipeline would carry about 500,000 barrels of crude per day from North Dakota’s Bakken oilfield to Illinois. The project has faced months of resistance from the Standing Rock Sioux tribe and members of nearly 100 more tribes from across the U.S. and Canada.

Sam Levin: Over 120 arrested at North Dakota pipeline protests, including journalists (Guardian)

North Dakota police arrested more than 120 people over the weekend at Native American oil pipeline protests, including film-makers and journalists, prompting accusations that law enforcement officials are stifling free speech and using excessive force against peaceful protesters.
There were increasingly tense clashes between police and demonstrators against the Dakota access pipeline, which the Standing Rock Sioux tribe says is a threat to its water supply and cultural heritage.

Sam Levin: North Dakota arrest warrant for Amy Goodman raises fears for press freedom (Guardian)
Sam Levin: Judge rejects riot charges for journalist Amy Goodman after oil pipeline protest (Guardian)

Authorities had issued a warrant for her arrest after Democracy Now! host filmed guards for the Dakota access pipeline using dogs and pepper spray on protesters

Larry Buhl: Destruction of Sacred Burial Grounds Prompts Federal Judge to Protect Some Tribal Sites from Dakota Access Pipeline (Desmog)
Sam Levin: Guards for North Dakota pipeline could be charged for using dogs on activists (Guardian)
Steve Horn: Security Firm Running Dakota Access Pipeline Intelligence Has Ties to U.S. Military (CounterPunch)
David Marchese: Amy Goodman on Why the North Dakota Pipeline Standoff Is Only Getting Worse (New York)

M. (Canada) sent this link:
Luciana Bohne: Crossing the Acheron: Back to Vietnam (CounterPunch)

In classical mythology, the Acheron [Ἀχέρων / Ἀχερούσιος] is one of the rivers of the Underworld. It marks the boundary between the living and the dead. The ferryman Charon ferries the dead across the Acheron to a place where they lose memory. Nothing of what made them human remains—happiness, suffering, love, hatred, guilt, regret, redemption, betrayal, forgiveness…
“In May 2012, President Barack Obama and the Pentagon announced a Commemoration of the Vietnam War to continue through 2025, the fiftieth anniversary of the conflict’s end. Among the Commemoration’s objectives, three stand out: ‘to thank and honor’ veterans and their families . . . ‘to highlight the advances in technology, science, and medicine related to military research conducted during’ the war; and to ‘recognize the contributions and sacrifices made by the allies’.”

John Pilger: Inside the Invisible Government: War, Propaganda, Clinton & Trump (CounterPunch)

Imagine two cities.
Both are under siege by the forces of the government of that country. Both cities are occupied by fanatics, who commit terrible atrocities, such as beheading people.
But there is a vital difference. In one siege, the government soldiers are described as liberators by Western reporters embedded with them, who enthusiastically report their battles and air strikes. There are front page pictures of these heroic soldiers giving a V-sign for victory. There is scant mention of civilian casualties.
In the second city – in another country nearby – almost exactly the same is happening. Government forces are laying siege to a city controlled by the same breed of fanatics.
The difference is that these fanatics are supported, supplied and armed by “us” – by the United States and Britain. They even have a media centre that is funded by Britain and America.
Another difference is that the government soldiers laying siege to this city are the bad guys, condemned for assaulting and bombing the city – which is exactly what the good soldiers do in the first city.
Confusing? Not really. Such is the basic double standard that is the essence of propaganda. I am referring, of course, to the current siege of the city of Mosul by the government forces of Iraq, who are backed by the United States and Britain and to the siege of Aleppo by the government forces of Syria, backed by Russia. One is good; the other is bad.
What is seldom reported is that both cities would not be occupied by fanatics and ravaged by war if Britain and the United States had not invaded Iraq in 2003.

Martin Fackler: Sinking a bold foray into watchdog journalism in Japan (Columbia Journalism Review)

“In Japanese journalism, scoops usually just mean learning from the ministry officials today what they intend to do tomorrow,” said Makoto Watanabe, a former reporter in the section who quit the Asahi in March because he felt blocked from doing investigative reporting. “We came up with different scoops that were unwelcome in the Prime Minister’s Office.”
Abe and his supporters on the nationalistic right seized on missteps by the Asahi in its coverage of Fukushima and sensitive issues of World War II-era history to launch a withering barrage of criticism that the paper seemed unable to withstand. The taming of the Asahi set off a domino-like series of moves by major newspapers and television networks to remove outspoken commentators and newscasters.
Political interference in the media was one reason cited by Reporters Without Borders in lowering Japan from 11th in 2010 to 72nd out of 180 nations in this year’s annual ranking of global press freedoms, released on April 20, 2016.

John Pilger: Provoking Nuclear War by Media (CounterPunch)

The exoneration of a man accused of the worst of crimes, genocide, made no headlines. Neither the BBC nor CNN covered it. The Guardian allowed a brief commentary. Such a rare official admission was buried or suppressed, understandably. It would explain too much about how the rulers of the world rule.
The International Criminal Tribunal for the Former Yugoslavia (ICTY) in The Hague has quietly cleared the late Serbian president, Slobodan Milosevic, of war crimes committed during the 1992-95 Bosnian war, including the massacre at Srebrenica.

Jonathan Lis: Coalition Chairman Threatens to Strip Citizenship of Israeli Activist Who Criticized Occupation at UN (Haaretz)

In a further escalation of the backlash against the anti-occupation nonprofit B’Tselem after it addressed the UN Security Council, the chairman of the coalition said Friday that he will seek to have the citizenship of the group’s CEO revoked.
Likud lawmaker David Bitan told Channel 2 that B’Tselem head Hagai El-Ad’s remarks were an “explicit breach of trust by an Israeli citizen against the state, and as such he should find himself another citizenship.”

Thailand | Brexit | Ethiopia | Israel/Palestine

Giles Ji Ungpakorn (ใจ อึ๊งภากรณ์ [tɕaj ʔɯ́ŋpʰaːkɔːn]): King Pumipon (Bhumibol) of Thailand (Uglytruth Thailand)

King Pumipon (p̣hūmiphala ภูมิพลอดุลยเดช [pʰuːmípʰon]) of Thailand was a weak and characterless monarch who spent his useless and privileged life in a bubble, surrounded by fawning, grovelling, toadies who claimed that he was a “god”… His life’s work was in self-enrichment, support for military regimes and the defence of inequality. He played a significant role in preventing democratic rights, the development of social justice and the fair and unbiased use of the law. He did this by legitimising all the worst government policies and atrocities committed by Thai rulers. In recent years he remained silent while more and more dissidents were jailed, under the draconian lèse majesté law, for merely speaking out against the destruction of democracy.

Giles Ji Ungpakorn: Wachiralongkorn should not be the future king. Thailand should be a republic (Uglytruth Thailand)
Thailand’s heir apparent Maha Vajiralongkorn raises fears – and eyebrows (Guardian)

Thailand’s Crown Prince Maha Vajiralongkorn (มหาวชิราลงกรณ [máhǎː wáʨʰíraːloŋkɔːn]), a three-times divorced playboy who made his pet poodle an air chief marshal in the Thai military, poses perhaps the biggest challenge for both the country’s monarchists and its ruling junta in coming weeks, following the death of his father, King Bhumibol Adulyadej.

AFP: Who is Thailand’s 96-year-old regent? (Asia Times)

Former general and prime minister Prem Tinsulanonda (เปรม ติณสูลานนท์ [preːm tinnásǔːlaːnon]) … stormed up the army ranks during the Cold War and was promoted above his seniors to army chief in 1978.
Two years later, he assumed power in what was widely viewed as a silent coup endorsed by the king and queen…
Prem later led the Privy Council of late King Bhumibol Adulyadej — who died last Thursday after a 70-year reign — making him the monarch’s closest adviser and gatekeeper…
Both as prime minister in the 1980s and later as head of the Privy Council, Prem cemented the military’s self-designated role as protector of the monarchy through his remarkable relationship with Bhumibol.
“He was able to make the military into a mechanism for the monarchy but keep the military as a powerful institution in Thai politics,” Paul Chambers, an expert on Thailand’s military, told AFP…
Since the end of absolute monarchy in 1932, Thailand has seen 12 successful military coups.
Prem has instigated or had a hand in five of them, said Chambers.
The most recent came in 2014, toppling the democratically elected government of Yingluck Shinawatra, sister of telecoms billionaire and former prime minister Thaksin Shinawatra who was himself ousted in a 2006 coup.

Alison Smale, Thomas Fuller: Thailand Looks to Likely Future King With Apprehension (New York Times)
Reuters: Thai royal defamation cases jump since king’s death (Asia Times)

Prime Minister Prayuth Chan-ocha has moved quickly to quash any uncertainty around the royal succession, saying Crown Prince Maha Vajiralongkorn would ascend the throne after a period of mourning that he had requested.
Insulting the monarch, the regent or the heir, known by the French-language term “lèse-majesté”, is a crime in Thailand that carries a jail sentence of up to 15 years for each case.
Police spokesman Kitsana Pattanacharoen said there had been 12 lèse-majesté cases since last Thursday, with arrest warrants issued for eight suspects and four already in police custody.
“Their crime was posting messages or pictures which insulted the monarchy on social media,” he told Reuters.
There were 70 cases in the two-and-a-half years from a May 2014 coup up to last Thursday, said Weerawat Somnuek, a researcher at Thai legal monitoring group iLaw.

Colombia referendum: Voters reject Farc peace deal (BBC)

Voters in Colombia have rejected a landmark peace deal with Farc rebels in a shock referendum result, with 50.2% voting against it.
The deal was signed last week by President Juan Manuel Santos and Farc leader Timoleon Jimenez after nearly four years of negotiations.

Mona Mahmood and Emma Graham-Harrison: Mosul civilians brace for assault as Iraq forces bid to retake Isis stronghold (Guardian)

Hundreds of thousands of civilians are bracing themselves for the start of an Iraqi army campaign to retake Mosul from Isis, which they fear will bring “the whole world” to fight over their city.
Militants have banned civilians from leaving the city, and have set up checkpoints on roads out and blown up the homes of those who do flee as punishment and to deter others.

Patrick Cockburn: This Battle for Mosul Will Not Be the Last (CounterPunch)

The Iraqi government and its allies may eventually capture Mosul from Isis, but this could be just a new chapter in the war.
It will only win because of the devastating firepower of the US-led air forces and sheer weight of numbers. But the fight for the city is militarily and politically complex. The Iraqi army, Kurdish Peshmerga, Shia Hashd al-Shaabi and Sunni fighters from Mosul and Nineveh province, which make up the anti-Isis forces, suspect and fear each other almost as much as they hate Isis.

Tallha Abdulrazaq: Mosul will fall again, but at great cost (AlJazeera)

The battle for Mosul will be long and the city’s remaining 1.5 million civilians will bear the brunt.

Robert Fisk: After Mosul Falls, ISIS will Flee to Syria. Then What? (CounterPunch)

Syria’s army and Hezbollah and Iranian allies are preparing for a massive invasion by thousands of Isis fighters who will be driven out of Iraq when Mosul falls. The real purpose behind the much-trumpeted US-planned “liberation” of the Iraqi city, the Syrian military suspect, is to swamp Syria with the hordes of Isis fighters who will flee their Iraqi capital in favour of their “mini-capital” of Raqqa inside Syria itself.

Gary Leupp: An Urgently Necessary Briefing on Syria (CounterPunch)

Thomas Mountain: Revolutionary Islam and Regime Change in Ethiopia (CounterPunch)

With ethnic uprisings spreading across an Ethiopia now ruled by martial law there is only one nationally based organization in place to lead the eventual regime change in the country and that is the revolutionary Islamic movement.
Presently all the liberation resistance movements in Ethiopia are ethnically based with their senior leadership in exile, mainly in neighboring Eritrea. The only organization with a national presence is the revolutionary Islamic religious community, whose recently freed leaders have sworn to liberate Ethiopia from the western backed Tigrayan ethnic minority regime presently ruling the country.

Samir Amin: Brexit and the EU Implosion: National Sovereignty—For What Purpose? (Monthly Review)

The defense of national sovereignty, like its critique, leads to serious misunderstandings once one detaches it from the social class content of the strategy in which it is embedded. The leading social bloc in capitalist societies always conceives sovereignty as a necessary instrument for the promotion of its own interests based on both capitalist exploitation of labor and the consolidation of its international positions.

Chris Welzenbach: The Dreadful Chronology of Gaddafi’s Murder (CounterPunch)

Gideon Levy: Peace Is Justice, and Justice Doesn’t Need a Partner (Haaretz, behind pay wall; also via Google News) / אין פרטנר (Haaretz; also via Google News)

Israel is not in a position to demand a partner in order to end the occupation. It must end the occupation. It has no right to make demands before doing so.

Turkey | Brexit | USA | Israel/Palestine

Sungur Savran: Turkey: A war of two coups (RedMed) / Πόλεμος δύο πραξικοπήματον (Εργατικό Επαναστατικό Κόμμα)

On the night of 15-16 July, Turkey went through a cataclysm that stunned the world: a huge section of the armed forces of the country (TSK in its Turkish acronym) attempted to take power from the government of Recep Tayyip Erdoğan and the AKP, came very close to its objective, but was ultimately defeated. Official statements of imperialist countries celebrate the triumph of democracy. Nothing can be farther from the truth. Furthermore, many commentators, remaining captive to the official explanation of the AKP government, point to the followers of Fethullah Gülen, a powerful imam who has been residing in the US for close to two decades now, as the culprit behind the coup. This is a mystification used by the AKP for various purposes, the most important being to ostracise the Gülenists and to hide from view that a much wider array of forces within the army have taken up arms. And on the left and far left, many are filled with excitement at the sight of civilians climbing over tanks and challenging with bare hands the heavily armed soldiers of the putschist forces. This, too, is a very distorted picture.
The correct characterisation of the coup is not one of democracy defeating dictatorship. Two despotic forces faced each other and the more gradualist one won…
Historically speaking, the Turkish bourgeoisie has been firmly committed to the so-called Western alliance. After World War Two, the country took its place as the only majority Muslim country in organisations as diverse as the European Council, the OECD, and NATO and has been desperately trying its hand at accession to the European Union (EU) for a full half century. This was very much in consonance with the orientation of the Kemalist republic established in 1923, which adopted a line which almost forcibly tore Turkish society from Islamic or oriental mores, customs, and culture and tried to make it a part of what Mustafa Kemal Atatürk, the strongman of Kemalism, called “contemporary civilisation”, i.e. the Western world. The unstoppable rise of the Islamist movement from the 1970s onwards was closely related to the profound reaction of the working masses and the poor of the country to this forcible move and the divide between them and the ways of the bourgeoisie not only socio-economically but also culturally. Having taken over the position of leadership in this movement from the historic leader Erbakan in the early 2000s, Erdoğan, a capitalist merchant of humble beginnings, seemed to the masses as “their man”. This, in effect, explains an overwhelming part of his extremely charismatic popularity with half the electorate.
This, of course, is only half the story. The other part is the rise of what was a provincial bourgeoisie, aspiring to become rich and powerful like their earlier dominant Westernised class brethren, but, feeling like the underdog, produced a different kind of political movement which posed an alternative programme of Islamic unity, not only politically but economically as well. This wing grew beyond a provincial wing of the bourgeoisie into finance capital by the 1990s, they strove for power. The AKP is the expression of this class fraction.

Peter Schwarz: US and Germany livid over failure of Turkish coup (World Socialist Web Site)

Judging by the reactions of the American and German governments to the failed coup in Turkey, there can be no doubt that they supported the rebels politically and had hoped for their success.
Washington, like Berlin, allowed much time to pass before tersely condemning the coup, only speaking out unequivocally when it was clear that the rebels had failed.

Turkish coupists planned to charge Erdogan with overly gentle treatment of Kurds (RT)

Those behind the the attempted coup in Turkey planned to accuse President Erdogan and his inner circle of aiding terror by negotiating with the PKK before launching a military crackdown on Kurds, Turkish media reported citing a document recovered by police.
A petition to initiate a judicial process against the Turkish government was discovered during a search of the office of Public Prosecutor Mehmet Sel in Istanbul, who was detained following the failed coup attempt.

Sam Jones: Separatist movement in Catalonia escalates battle with Madrid (Guardian)

The separatist movement in Catalonia’s parliament has escalated its battle with Madrid after it defied Spain’s constitutional court by debating a controversial pro-independence roadmap, and the region’s president announced a confidence vote to consolidate the move towards sovereignty…
Last November, the Catalan parliament voted to begin the process of breaking away from Spain after separatist MPs used their majority to pass legislation to effect a “disconnection from the Spanish state” and pave the way for an independent Catalan state.

The EU and Britain – beacons of democracy:
Karthick Arvinth: Brexit vote is not legally binding, say lawyers (International Business Times)

More than 1,000 lawyers across the UK have signed a letter addressed to Prime Minister David Cameron insisting that last month’s vote to leave the European Union is not legally binding.

Jacob Kornbluh: GOP Platform to Drop Support for Two State Solution (Haaretz / Jewish Insider)

‘We reject the false notion that Israel is an occupier,’ reads platform draft. According to people involved in the draft, Trump’s Israel advisers and pro-Israel groups in Republican Party worked together to take out support for Palestinian state.

Yair Ettinger: Israel Destroys 20 Palestinian Structures in East Jerusalem (Haaretz, also via Google News)

Police use riot-control measures to quell protests against destruction of buildings, some beyond the separation barrier in Palestinian locales.

Larry Derfner: Why Are Israeli Soldiers Fraternizing With Hebron’s Most Racist, Terrorist-inciting Settlers? (Haaretz, also via Google News)

Boston-born Hebron settler Baruch Marzel glorifies Arab-killers. We shouldn’t be surprised that one of his regular Shabbat lunchtime guests, Sgt. Elor Azaria, is on trial for shooting dead an incapacitated Palestinian.

Vivian Eden: The Mahmoud Darwish Poem That Enraged Lieberman and Regev (Haaretz)

An Army Radio discussion of an early work by Mahmoud Darwish has caused an uproar. Here is the poem: ID Card.

Israeli liberals are seriously worried:
Gideon Levy: כן, מדינת רשע | Stop Living in Denial, Israel Is an Evil State (Haaretz, also via Google News)

אחרי שאמרנו לאומנות וגזענות, שנאת ערבים וזילות חייהם, פולחן ביטחון והתנגדות לכיבוש, התקרבנות ומשיחיות, צריך להוסיף עוד מרכיב אחד, שבלעדיו אי אפשר להסביר את התנהגותו של משטר הכיבוש הישראלי: הרוע. הרוע המזוקק. הרוע הסדיסטי. הרוע לשמו. לפעמים הוא ההסבר היחיד.
After we’ve cited nationalism and racism, hatred and contempt for Arab life, the security cult and resistance to the occupation, victimhood and messianism, one more element must be added without which the behavior of the Israeli occupation regime cannot be explained: Evil. Pure evil. Sadistic evil. Evil for its own sake. Sometimes, it’s the only explanation.

Gideon Levy: What Sort of Society Feels Absolutely Nothing After Killing Hundreds of Children? (Haaretz, also via Google News)

Israel killed 546 Palestinian children over the course of only 50 days in Gaza in 2014. Of those, 180 were babies and toddlers under the age of five…
Try to imagine – the army killed 546 children in the course of 50 days. More than 10 children a day, a classroom every three days. Try to imagine.

Eva Illouz: הגיעה העת לבחון מחדש את הבנאליות של הרוע (Haaretz, also via Google News)

להפחית במשמעות של מקרה אלאור אזריה כמקרה בודד היא סוג של פשיטת רגל מוסרית. המעשים האלה מהווים דפוס עקבי. יהיו שיטענו כי הדפוס הזה טמון בשורשי הציונות עצמה. אני סבורה שניתן לזהותו באידיאולוגיית ההתנחלויות, שעיוותה לחלוטין את רוחה וכוונותיה של הציונות על ידי הכללתן בהשקפה משיחית וקידוש האדמה

Gary Jones: The Chinese volunteers who fought in the Spanish civil war – their amazing courage and obscure fates (South China Morning Post)

Illiterate farmers, manual labourers, civil servants – some 100 Chinese joined the International Brigades helping fight General Franco’s fascists 80 years ago. Despite being few in number, they left a lasting impression.

And some theories from mainstream economics:
Marshall Steinbaum: Should the Middle Class Fear the World’s Poor? (Boston Review)

Colombia | Britain | Japan | USA

Sibylla Brodzinsky, Jonathan Watts: Colombia and Farc rebels sign historic ceasefire deal to end 50-year conflict (Guardian)

The Colombian government and Farc guerrillas have declared the final day of one of the world’s oldest wars with the signing of a ceasefire agreement to end more than 50 years of bloodshed.
“May this be the last day of the war,” said Farc chief Timoleón “Timochenko” Jiménez, his voice choked with tears.
“We are close to a final peace accord,” he said, after shaking hands with Colombian president Juan Manuel Santos at the signing ceremony in Havana, which was attended by the UN secretary general, Ban Ki-moon.

Reuters: Colombian Farc rebel unit rejects peace deal, saying it will not disarm (Guardian)
Sibylla Brodzinsky: ‘Unarmed, we are nothing’: Farc guerrillas wary of future without guns (Guardian)

Michael Hudson: The Silence of the Left: Brexit, Euro-Austerity and the T-TIP (CounterPunch)

The Maastricht and Lisbon treaties – along with the German constitution – deprive the eurozone of having a central bank to spend money to revive the European economy. Instead of working to heal the economy from the debt deflation that has occurred since 2008, the European Central Bank (ECB) finances banks and obliges governments to save bondholders from loss instead of writing down bad debts.
To top matters, Brussels bureaucrats seem quite bendable to U.S. pressures to sign the T-TIP: the Obama Administration’s neoliberal Transatlantic Trade and Investment Partnership. This is a corporatist program shifting regulatory policy into corporate hands, away from government: environmental policy, public health policy and food labeling for starters.
The Brussels bureaucracy has been hijacked not only by the banks, but by NATO. It pretends that there is a real danger of Russia mounting a military invasion of Europe – as if any country in the world today could mount a land war against another…
What used to be a socialist left has been silent about the fact that there are very good reasons for people to say that this is not the kind of Europe they want to be a part of. It is becoming a dead zone. And it cannot be “democratized” without replacing the Lisbon and Maastricht treaties on which it is founded, and removing German opposition to public spending on recovery for Spain, Italy, Portugal, Greece and other countries.

Joyce Nelson: Post-Brexit, Is the EU Flaunting Its Undemocratic Tendencies? (CounterPunch)

Stung by Brexit, the EU bureaucrats seem intent on showing just how undemocratic they can be. Here are two examples just in the last seven days…
On June 24, EU member states again refused (for a third time this year) to approve a renewal of the license for the weed-killer glyphosate manufactured by Monsanto and other corporations involved in GMO crop cultivation. That should have meant that the license would expire by the end of June, and Monsanto’s Roundup and other glyphosate weed-killers would have to be withdrawn from Europe by the end of this year.
Instead, on June 29 the European Commission (EC) decided “unilaterally” to extend the glyphosate license for another 18 months…
On June 28, a German news agency reported that European Commission President Jean-Claude Juncker told EU leaders the Commission is planning to push through a controversial free trade agreement between Canada and the EU – known as CETA, the Comprehensive Economic and Trade Agreement – without giving national parliaments any say in it. [7] According to the German press, Juncker argued that allowing national parliaments to vote on the agreement would “paralyze the process” and raise questions about the EU’s “credibility.”

Sean Bell: The End of the United Kingdom? (Jacobin)

Brexit has suddenly made Scottish independence and a united Ireland possible. What does it mean for the Left?

Costas Lapavitsas: Why They Left (Jacobin)

Brexit wasn’t the first time Europeans rejected the EU, and it won’t be the last. Here’s what the Left should do.

Serge Halimi: Why Britain walked out / Une Europe à refaire (Monde diplomatique)

The EU, brainchild of an intellectual elite, born in a world divided by war, missed one of history’s great choices, or opportunities, to take another route 25 years ago…
But instead of a community, it built a market. Bristling with commissioners, rules for member states, penalties for its peoples, yet wide open to competition among workers, soulless and with only one aim — to serve the wealthiest and best connected in financial centres and major metropolises…
The protests expressed in the British vote cannot be dismissed solely as populism or xenophobia. And it is not by further reducing national sovereignty, in favour of a federal Europe almost nobody wants, that our politically discredited elites will assuage the popular anger unleashed in the UK — and rising elsewhere.

Paul Mason: UK: lost, divided and alone (Monde diplomatique)

The Brexit vote was a insurrectionary protest against neoliberalism, globalism and cultural contempt. It will break up the UK, and split England forever.

Dimiar Indzhov: After Brexit: the EU Needs to Abandon Austerity or Face More Exits (CounterPunch)

Chilcot delivers crushing verdict on Blair and the Iraq war (Guardian)
Tony Blair deliberately exaggerated threat from Iraq, Chilcot report finds (Guardian)
Spy agencies ‘produced flawed information on Saddam’s WMDs’ (Guardian)
Bush largely ignored advice on postwar Iraq, Chilcot inquiry finds (Guardian)
Lee Williams: Chilcot has underlined exactly why Labour needs Jeremy Corbyn – one of the brave few to oppose the Iraq War (Independent)
Ian Black: Blair says the Middle East is better off post-Saddam, but is this true? (Guardian)
Owen Jones: The war in Iraq was not a blunder or a mistake. It was a crime (Guardian)
Jeffrey St. Clair, Alexander Cockburn: Iraq’s Weapons of Mass Destruction: Who Said What When (CounterPunch)

Justin McCurry: Japan could change pacifist constitution after Shinzo Abe victory (Guardian)

Japan’s prime minister, Shinzo Abe [Abe Shinzō 安倍 晋三], has called for a debate on rewriting the country’s pacifist constitution after his Liberal Democratic party [LDP, Jiyū-Minshutō 自由民主党] and its allies secured a supermajority in upper house elections on Sunday.
The LDP, its junior coalition partner Kōmeitō [公明党], and several like-minded smaller parties and independent MPs now control two-thirds of the 242 seats in the upper house. The ruling coalition already has a similar majority in the more powerful lower house.

Yan Lei, Liu Tian: Abe’s victory in Upper House election threat to Japan, regional stability (Xinhua)

The Japanese ruling camp led by Prime Minister Shinzo Abe has won a majority in Sunday’s upper house election, which means Abe’s coalition and like-minded parties managed to take the two-thirds majority needed to try to revise the nation’s post-war pacifist Constitution.
The victory, though came as no surprise to the public, could pose a danger to Japan and regional stability, as it means Prime Minister Shinzo Abe will snatch more power and put Japan’s Constitution in jeopardy…
For one thing, Abe has been touting the so-called “achievements” of his economic policies dubbed “Abenomics”, referring only to favorable economic data, while being evasive about his true political agenda which is to revise the pacifist Constitution, a strategy that successfully disarmed many voters who are against constitutional revision.
For another, the voters, though discontent with Abe’s policies, felt a lack of better choices, as they are equally dissatisfied with the opposition parties, which seemed to have also failed to offer feasible solutions to the problems that Japan is faced with. Many people, therefore, chose to vote to keep the status quo, or even refused to vote.

Jason Burke: More than 300 dead as South Sudan capital is rocked by violence (Guardian)

Jon Swaine, Edward Helmore: Hundreds arrested amid new protests as details of Dallas gunman’s plans emerge (Guardian)

Military-style vehicles, teargas and smoke grenades returned to American streets for the first time this summer, and Barack Obama appealed for calm and said those who attack law enforcement undermine the cause of social justice.

David Wainer, Jonathan Ferziger, Ahmed Feteha: Old Mideast Foes Unite Over Gas Deals and Fighting Militants (Bloomberg)

Nearly four decades after their peace accord changed the face of the Middle East, Israel and Egypt are slowly turning a cool relationship into an alliance. They have tightened security cooperation to unprecedented levels and have been laying the legal groundwork for a multi-billion dollar energy contract, as gas discoveries in the Mediterranean and the persistent threat from Islamist militants shift the political dynamics across the region.

Israel Launched Numerous Drone Strikes in Sinai (Haaretz)

The attacks have been carried out in recent years, former Israeli official tells Bloomberg. Israel’s deputy army chief says cooperation between Israel and Egypt has never been better.

Jacob Kornbluh: Clinton Supporters Reject Democratic Platform Amendment Calling to ‘End’ Israeli Settlements (Jewish Insider / Haaretz)
Mira Sucharov: For Diaspora Jews, the Occupation Can’t Just Be a Spectator Sport (Haaretz)

An eternal debate that is relevant not just in the US, but in many countries:
John Halle, Noam Chomsky: An Eight-Point Brief for LEV (Lesser Evil Voting) (Outrages and Interludes)
Andrew Smolski: No Lesser Evil, Not this Time (CounterPunch)
Andrew Smolski: To My Less-Evilism Haters: A Rejoinder to Halle and Chomsky (CounterPunch)
Jeffrey St. Clair: Noam Chomsky, John Halle and a Confederacy of Lampreys: a Note on Lesser Evil Voting (CounterPunch)

Brexit | Colombia | NATO | Myanmar

EU referendum: full results and analysis (Guardian)

Britain has voted by a substantial margin to leave the European Union. The picture that is emerging is of a heavily polarised country, with remain areas coming in more strongly for remain than expected, and leave areas more strongly for leave. Geographically, Scotland and London have voted overwhelmingly for remain, but outside the capital, every English region had a majority for leave.

Here’s an article by a Chinese friend who is studying in Britain right now:
风雨飘摇中的英国工党和左派(澎湃)
More on Brexit:
Joseph Richardson: The Left and the EU: Why Cling to This Reactionary Institution? (CounterPunch)

Why is it that many people who consider themselves left-wing have such difficulty grasping that the EU is a deeply reactionary institution? The mere fact that those running the EU present it as an internationalist venture dedicated to the creation of a world free of nationalist enmities does not make it so. If we want to examine the EU in its proper light, then we should ignore the high-flown rhetoric in which its supporters indulge, and consider its actual record. And what is the record of the EU, once we penetrate the obfuscatory rhetoric about ‘internationalism’ that surrounds EU policy? Without a doubt, that record is one that should cause those on the left now defending it acute embarrassment, as it starkly contradicts the ideals that the left has always claimed to uphold.

John King: The left wing case for leaving the EU (New Statesman)
John Mann: Now it’s time for Labour to listen to its voters (Guardian)

Traditional Labour supporters voted to leave the EU and create a fairer workplace. My party must not only listen, but take action to protect their rights.
The EU referendum has exposed the major schism between Labour and its core voters. The Labour party in Westminster struggled to reflect the language and aspirations of our traditional working-class communities. These Labour voters, aware of the long-term neglect of their voice and their aspirations, decided the result of the referendum. It should be no surprise to anyone that they chose to comfortably ignore the Labour call to vote remain.

Diane Abbott: The dispossessed voted for Brexit. Jeremy Corbyn offers real change (Guardian)
Martin Kettle: Jeremy Corbyn will struggle to hold his line over Europe (Guardian)
Giles Fraser: Brexit brought democracy back – now we need to start listening to each other (Guardian)

The wonderful thing about democracy is that it doesn’t give some an extra voting power if they are rich or well-educated. It’s the great leveller. Invented in this country by the Levellers. And things have now been levelled.
The biggest failure in all this has been the Labour party, often little more than a bystander in so vital a debate. If only Jeremy Corbyn had stuck with his natural instincts and led the leave campaign. He could now be the prime minister in waiting. And he could have shaped the debate away from immigrant blaming. Indeed, many of those who voted out were natural Labour supporters, but their anger has been dismissed as bigoted by those for whom some pop-up chai latte liberal individualism has replaced socialism as the dominant creed.
Tragically, Ukip has been the beneficiaries of this neglect, hijacking legitimate frustration and redirecting it towards the easy target of the outsider. With this referendum the gap between the present Labour party and its base has been exposed.

Brexit Vote Spells Political Crisis in Scotland and UK (Scottish Socialist Party)

Commenting on the Brexit vote SSP National Spokesperson Colin Fox said: “This result first and foremost represents an unprecedented rejection of the anti-democratic, neo-liberal EU by one of its most significant and powerful constituent nations.

An anti-racist, anti-austerity and socialist case to vote Leave (Socialist Worker)
Charlie Hore: Seeing the whole picture after the referendum (Socialist Worker)
Joseph Choonara: After the leave vote: we can beat back racism and austerity (Socialist Review)
Neil Davidson: The Socialist Case for Leave (Jacobin)

The European Union provides internationalism for the bosses, not for workers. We should join the vote to leave it tomorrow.

Ed Rooksby: The Left After Leave (Jacobin)
Jonathan Cook: Your EU vote is crucial because it won’t count

Here is a prediction about the outcome of today’s UK referendum on leaving the European Union. Even in the unlikely event that the remain camp loses, the UK will still not Brexit. Europe’s neoliberal elite will not agree to release its grip on a major western nation. A solution will be found to keep the UK in the union, whatever British voters decide. Which is one very good reason to vote Brexit, as I’ll explain in a minute.

Supporters of the EU sneer “Little Englander” at those with a different opinion, but most of the arguments against membership are left-leaning and liberal.

One solution, of course, is to vote again and again, until the desired result is obtained:
James Tapper: Petition to hold second EU referendum reaches 2m signatures (Guardian)
Peter Rásonyi: Zeit für Reflexion und Demut (Neue Zürcher Zeitung)

Was jahrzehntelang undenkbar schien, ist Tatsache geworden. Grossbritannien, die einstige Weltmacht, das drittgrösste Mitgliedsland, die zweitgrösste Volkswirtschaft, verlässt die Europäische Union.

Julie Hyland: In right-wing putsch, UK Labour MPs deliver overwhelming anti-Corbyn vote (World Socialist Website)

Fully 81 percent of the parliamentary Labour Party (PLP) supported Tuesday’s motion of no-confidence in leader Jeremy Corbyn. Just 40 Labour MPs voted against the motion, with 172 in favour. Thirteen did not vote at all and there were four spoilt ballots.
The extraordinary scale of the right-wing coup, which had already seen Corbyn lose most of his shadow cabinet in a series of timed resignations, was intended to force the Labour leader to resign. But in a statement put out moments after the result, Corbyn said that he had been elected “by 60 percent of Labour members and supporters” only last September, and “I will not betray them by resigning.”
The no-confidence motion, he said, has “no constitutional legitimacy.”

Andrew Griffin: Jeremy Corbyn supporters to march on parliament to demand that Labour leader keeps job (Independent)
Labour resignations a ‘disgusting, organised coup’, says Alex Salmond (Herold)

Sibylla Brodzinsky, Jonathan Watts: Colombia and Farc rebels sign historic ceasefire deal to end 50-year conflict (Guardian)

The Colombian government and Farc guerrillas have declared the final day of one of the world’s oldest wars with the signing of a ceasefire agreement to end more than 50 years of bloodshed.

German minister warns Nato against ‘warmongering’ (BBC)

German Foreign Minister Frank-Walter Steinmeier has warned Nato against “warmongering”, after it conducted military exercises in Eastern Europe.
Mr Steinmeier said that extensive Nato manoeuvres launched this month were counterproductive to regional security and could inflame tensions with Russia.
He urged the Nato military alliance to replace the exercises with more dialogue and co-operation with Russia.
Nato has carried out a 10-day exercise simulating a Russian attack on Poland.
The drill, which ended on Friday, involved about 31,000 troops, as well as fighter jets, ships and 3,000 vehicles.

Jennifer Rankin: Eastern Europe needs permanent Nato troops, say ex-US policymakers (Guardian)

Nato troops should be stationed permanently in eastern Europe to guard against potential aggressive moves by Russia, two former US policymakers have said in a report that could raise tensions with Moscow.
Just weeks ahead of a Nato summit in Warsaw, Nicholas Burns, a former US ambassador to the organisation, and Gen James Jones, a former supreme allied commander for Europe, have called for permanent air, sea and ground troops to be based in the Baltic States, Poland, Romania and Bulgaria…
Any such move would be bound to be seen by the Kremlin as a hostile act. Moscow argues that the plan to set up rotating battalions in Poland and the Baltic States would violate a 1997 agreement that Nato would not mass “substantial combat forces” in Europe.

Reuters: Aung San Suu Kyi tells UN that the term ‘Rohingya’ will be avoided (Guardian)

Myanmar leader Aung San Suu Kyi has told the UN special rapporteur on human rights that the government will avoid using the term “Rohingya” to describe a persecuted Muslim minority in the country’s north-west.
The statement came as the top UN human rights official issued a report saying the Rohingya had been deprived of nationality and undergone systematic discrimination and severe restrictions on movements. They had also suffered executions and torture that together may amount to crimes against humanity, the report said…
Feted in the west for her role as champion of Myanmar’s democratic opposition during long years of military rule and house arrest, Suu Kyi has been criticised overseas, and by some in Myanmar, for saying little about the abuses faced by the Rohingya…
Some 120,000 Rohingya remain displaced in squalid camps since fighting erupted in Rakhine State between Buddhists and Muslims in 2012. Thousands have fled persecution and poverty.

Julian Vigo: Disenfranchisement Laws, Race and the U.S. Presidential Election (CounterPunch)

5.8 million Americans cannot vote because of felony conviction. One out of every thirteen African Americans has lost their voting rights due to felony disenfranchisement laws. Compare this with one in every forty-five non-black voters and it is clear that something is amiss with the US electoral process. The 2000 presidential elections gave Republican nominee, George W. Bush, a narrow win over the Democratic, nominee, Al Gore, where the margin of Bush’s victory in this state were fewer than 1,000 votes. It is widely viewed that had disenfranchisement laws not been in vigour in Florida which prohibited as many as 620,000 citizens from voting, history would have decided a different US president.

David Palumbo-Liu: The UN’s damning report on Israel and torture: The desperate case of Palestinian youth in the occupied territory (Salon)

Just recently, Israel was elected to chair one of the United Nations’ permanent committees — the Sixth Committee, called the “Legal Committee.” It oversees issues related to international law, including human rights issues and issues of decolonization. Israel’s ambassador to the UN, Danny Danon remarked, “I am proud to be the first Israeli elected to this position… Israel is a world leader in international law and in fighting terrorism…We are pleased to have the opportunity to share our knowledge with the countries of the world.” This presents a case of overwhelming contradiction, as Israel itself has been sharply and persistently criticized for violations of human rights and its continued colonial project in the Occupied Palestinian Territory.
In May 2011, Danon wrote an op-ed published in The New York Times where he advocated that Israel annex all West Bank settlements and “uninhabited areas.”

Amira Hass: Palestinian City Parched After Israel Cuts Water Supply (Haaretz, also via Google News)

Chickens and gardens in Salfit die of dehydration, and factories are shut down in an effort to conserve water; ‘We woke up one morning to an empty reservoir,’ the mayor says. ‘Had we known ahead of time that the water would be cut off, we would have stocked up.’

Amira Hass: Israel Admits Cutting West Bank Water Supply, but Blames Palestinian Authority (Haaretz)

Since the start of this month, tens of thousands of Palestinians have been suffering the harsh effects of a drastic cut in the water supplied them by Israel’s Mekorot water company.
In the Salfit region of the West Bank and in three villages east of Nablus, homes have had no running water for more than two weeks. Factories there have been shut down, gardens and plant nurseries have been ruined and animals have died of thirst or been sold to farmers outside the affected areas.

Amira Hass: Israel Incapable of Telling Truth About Water It Steals From Palestinians (Haaretz, also via Google News)
Nir Hasson: Four Out of Five East Jerusalemites Live in Poverty, a Sharp Rise Over Past Years (Haaretz, also via Google News)

Eighty-two percent of East Jerusalem residents lived under the poverty line in 2014, a sharp increase from previous years, according to the Jerusalem Institute for Israel Studies.
In comparison, the poverty rate for Israel as a whole is 22 percent, the rate for Jerusalem as a whole is 48 percent. In 2013, the poverty rate recorded in East Jerusalem was 76 percent, JIIS said.

Yuval Eylon: An Israeli-Palestinian confederation? Not so fast (+972 Mag)

A new initiative seeks to find a new, creative way to solve the conflict. The only problem? It forgets about equality…
Two States One Homeland proposes a confederation based on 1967 borders, freedom of movement, and joint institutions. The settlements will remain under Palestinian sovereignty, the settlers will be able to keep Israeli citizenship, and a similar number of citizens of Palestine will be able to live as residents in Israel…
On paper it seems like a fair exchange. However with hundreds of thousands of Israeli citizens in sovereign Palestinian territory, the Palestinian state will inevitably lack all sovereignty. The disparities in power ensure that Palestinian sovereignty will remain a formality, while actual sovereignty will remain in the hands of Israeli settlers. On the other hand the State of Israel will gain hundreds of thousands of laborers who lack both citizenship or even the very ability to become citizens of Israel.

James North, Philip Weiss: Front-page article in ‘NYT’ exposes the lie that wall is a security barrier (MondoWeiss)

The New York Times today has a top-of-the-front-page article about tens of thousands of Palestinians managing to get over or through “what Israelis call the security barrier” to work without papers inside Israel…
On the one hand, the article by James Glanz and Rami Nazzal, marks real progress: the Times is showing that the wall is not really a security barrier — 55,000 Palestinians legally pass through it and 30-60,000 illegally. If Palestinians really want to kill Israelis, the wall is no obstacle at all.
The industry offers economic benefits for everyone involved: Palestinian workers earn double or quadruple the wages they can in the West Bank; Israeli contractors and restaurant owners pay less for illegal labor than for Palestinians with permits…
The article makes clear that only the tiniest fraction of those who come in to Israel come in to attack; 99.9999 percent come to work. Thus the article exposes the lie that the wall has stopped attacks on Israelis. There are no attacks because Palestinians are choosing by and large not to resort to violence to counter the occupation. And the two societies are interdependent.
So why the wall?
That’s the big flaw in the article. It doesn’t address the political purposes of the wall: to grab as much Palestinian land with maximum Jews on it.

James Glanz, Rami Nazzal: Smugglers in West Bank Open Doors to Jobs in Israel, and Violence (New York Times)