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)

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.

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

Greenpeace Netherlands releases TTIP documents (Greenpeace)

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

TTIP: The terrible truth (Morning Star)

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Margaret Kimberley: Dishonoring Harriet Tubman (CounterPunch)

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

read more:

Wikileaks | Iran | Kurdistan | Palestine

Owen Bowcott, David Crouch: UN panel calls on UK and Sweden to end Julian Assange’s ‘deprivation of liberty’ (Guardian)

The WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange has been arbitrarily detained by the UK and Sweden for more than five years and should be released immediately with compensation, according to a United Nations report…
The panel calls on the Swedish and British authorities to end Assange’s “deprivation of liberty”, respect his physical integrity and freedom of movement and offer him compensation…
A UK government spokesperson said: “This changes nothing. We completely reject any claim that Julian Assange is a victim of arbitrary detention. The UK has already made clear to the UN that we will formally contest the working group’s opinion…”

Glenn Greenwald: U.S. Radically Changes Its Story of the Boats in Iranian Waters: to an Even More Suspicious Version (Intercept)

Martin Chulov: Iraqi Kurdistan president: time has come to redraw Middle East boundaries (Guardian)

Massoud Barzani claims era of Sykes-Picot is over and a new international agreement is needed for the Middle East

Pepe Escobar: Why Israel is in love with Kurdistan (RT)

What Big Oil in the US – and also Israel – sees, most of all, is the mirage of a Western-friendly major oil exporter in the long run. That’s why Balkanization sounds so juicy. This has nothing to do with the welfare of the historically wronged Kurdish people. It’s hardcore business. And yet another Divide and Rule power play.

Deepak Tripathi: Why Israel is backing Kurdish independence (Middle East Eye)

Ban Ki-moon: Don’t Shoot the Messenger, Israel (New York Times)

In Israel and the occupied Palestinian territories, 2016 has begun much as 2015 ended — with unacceptable levels of violence and a polarized public discourse. That polarization showed itself in the halls of the United Nations last week when I pointed out a simple truth: History proves that people will always resist occupation.

Michael Schaeffer Omer-Man: IDF admits spraying herbicides inside the Gaza Strip (+972)

The Israel army has confirmed that it used crop-dusters to kill off vegetation — and perhaps inadvertently, agricultural crops — inside the Gaza Strip last week. According to Palestinian officials, over 420 acres of land were damaged by the spraying.
For years now, the IDF has unilaterally maintained a lethal “no-go zone” on the Palestinian side of the border with Gaza. Now, it seems, it has also implemented a “no-grow zone.”

Belal Aldabbour: Israel spraying toxins over Palestinian crops in Gaza (AlJazeera)

On January 7, a low-flying agricultural aircraft sprayed herbicides on to Palestinian farmlands along the eastern border, eradicating or damaging up to 162 hectares of crops and farmland along the Israeli border fence.
“Herbicides are sprayed in high concentrations. Thus, they remain embedded in the soil, and then find their way to the water basin. This constitutes a real hazard for the population,” said Anwar Abu Assi, manager of the chemical laboratory at the Ministry of Agriculture.
The sprayed areas belong to Israel’s unilaterally imposed and poorly delineated “buffer” or “no-go zone”.
The zone, which amounts to an estimated 17 percent of the entire territory of the Gaza Strip and a third of its agricultural lands, erodes into the Strip’s most vital and fertile soils…
With the Strip being merely five kilometres wide in some areas, a few hundred metres prove essential to the Strip’s food security…
A few days ago, Israeli warplanes bombed Gaza’s main agricultural experiment station, causing $300,000-worth of damages and destroying the station’s building, laboratories, vehicles and a large power generator.
The station developed new seeds and strains for use by local farmers. Bombed and completely destroyed during the 2014 war, Israel seems insistent on keeping the station out of service, effectively stifling every Palestinian attempt to attain self-sufficiency or independence, even agriculturally.

Peter Beaumont: Palestinian families homeless as Israeli military demolishes West Bank houses (Guardian)

Israeli military bulldozers have demolished 23 houses in two impoverished southern West Bank villages, including structures that were home to more than 100 people…
According to Israeli NGO Peace Now, among the 110 people made homeless during the demolitions were dozens of children from 12 different families.

Gideon Levy: Don’t Celebrate the Israeli Occupation’s Impending Demise Just Yet (Guardian)
Gideon Levy: Yes, Israel Is Executing Palestinians Without Trial (Haaretz)

We should call it like it is: Israel executes people without trial nearly every day. Any other description is a lie. If there was once discussion here about the death penalty for terrorists, now they are executed even without trial (and without discussion). If once there was debate over the rules of engagement, today it’s clear: we shoot to kill – any suspicious Palestinian.
Public Security Minister Gilad Erdan outlined the situation clearly when he said, “Every terrorist should know he will not survive the attack he is about to commit” – and almost every politician joined him in nauseating unison, from Yair Lapid on up. Never have so many licenses to kill been handed out here, nor has the finger been so itchy on the trigger…
The firing squads are active every day. Soldiers, police and civilians shoot those who stabbed Israelis, or tried to stab them or were suspected of doing so, and at those who run down Israelis in their cars or appear to have done so.
In most cases, there was no need to shoot – and certainly not to kill. In a good many of the cases, the shooters’ lives were not in danger. They shot people to death who were holding a knife or even scissors, or people who just put their hands in their pockets or lost control of their car.
They shot them to death indiscriminately – women, men, teenage girls, teenage boys. They shot them when they were standing, and even after they were no longer a threat. They shot to kill, to punish, to release their anger, and to take revenge. There is such contempt here that these incidents are barely covered in the media.

Leandros Fischer: The German Left’s Palestine Problem (Jacobin, December 2014)
Shany Littman: Tel Aviv Museum Nixes Ai Weiwei Exhibit; Israeli Artist Says Censorship at Play (Haaretz)

The exhibit by the Chinese artist and dissident, which was also expected to show portraits of Palestinians by Israeli photographer Miki Kratsman, was delayed repeatedly until being nixed.

France | USA

Glenn Greenwald, Nermeen Shaikh, Amy Goodman: “Shameless” U.S. Officials Exploit Paris Attacks to Defend Spying & Attack Snowden (Democracy Now)

As France and Belgium move to expand state power in the aftermath of the Paris attacks, top U.S. officials have renewed a push to defend mass surveillance and dismiss those who challenge it. On Wednesday, FBI Director James Comey said intelligence and law enforcement officials need to have access to encrypted information on smartphones, despite no evidence that the Paris attackers used encryption. Meanwhile, others have used the Paris attacks to criticize NSA whistleblower Edward Snowden. In recent days, CIA Director John Brennan has suggested revelations about mass spying have made it harder to find terrorists, while former CIA Director James Woolsey has said Snowden has blood on his hands. “We have not heard such blatant, shameless lying from intelligence and military officials since 2002 and 2003 when they propagandized the country into invading Iraq based on utterly false pretenses,” says The Intercept’s Glenn Greenwald, the Pulitzer-winning journalist who exposed NSA mass surveillance based on Snowden’s leaks.

Amy Goodman, Nermeen Shaikh: Glenn Greenwald on “Submissive” Media’s Drumbeat for War and “Despicable” Anti-Muslim Scapegoating (Democracy Now)
Grey Anderson: The French Emergency (Jacobin)

From Algeria to the Paris attacks, French elites have used state of emergency legislation to consolidate power and repress dissent.

Ian Birchall: The Wrong Kind of Secularism (Jacobin)

The French secular ideal of laïcité is not a misused noble idea — it is deeply flawed at its roots…
Today laïcité serves as a justification for a variety of things — from banning headscarf-wearing mothers from accompanying their children on school outings to telling Muslim and Jewish schoolchildren that they must eat pork or go hungry.
But laïcité is not simply an idea that has been appropriated by the Right for political or cultural ends; it is also a value claimed by the Left, even the far left…
In 1886 Lafargue published a satire entitled La Religion du capital (The Religion of Capital). He imagined a conference in London with economic and political representatives of European capitalism — Clemenceau, Rothschild, Gladstone, Herbert Spencer, von Moltke, etc. Among those attending were Ferry and Paul Bert, who as education minister had been one of Ferry’s main allies in establishing laïcité. Their concern was to enable the survival of capitalism. And for that, a religion of some sort was required…
Some of the sharpest criticism of laïcité came from the anarchist and syndicalist currents; the anarchist position could be summed up as “neither the church nor the state.” As Sébastien Faure put it, the Christian school was “organised by the Church and for it, while the “école laïque” was “organised by the state and for it.” He counterposed the idea of “the school of the future . . . organised for the child.” André Lorulot put it rather more crudely, calling state schoolteachers “intellectual cops of the capitalist class.”…
Despite some opposing voices, laïcité largely achieved its goal of solidifying a national identity backed by military might…
The traditions of criticism of laïcité persisted after the First World War. The journal Clarté, close to but not entirely controlled by the Communist Party, reported on educational developments in post-revolutionary Russia that might offer an alternative to church or state education. An educational conference held in Moscow in 1919, for instance, dismissed academic neutrality and laïcité as a “mug’s game” (attrape-nigaud) designed to serve the interests of the bourgeoisie…
Today, with the concept being used in the service of Islamophobia, it is especially important to knock laïcité down from its elevated status. And that requires understanding laïcité not as a noble ideal that has been misinterpreted and distorted, but as deeply flawed from the outset.

The media after Paris: from fear to loathing, by way of made-up facts (Guardian)

Anti-immigration sentiment across Europe begins to make more sense when you realise that Brits and Spaniards think they have twice as many immigrants in their country as they actually do, the Italians, Belgians and French assume there are three times as many as there are, the Hungarians eight times and the Poles more than 30 times.

Gilbert Achcar: France Returns to the State of Exception (Jacobin)

The discourse of war is already upon us. But it must be resisted.

Don’t let them use Paris as a pretext! (International Action Center)
John Catalinotto: Historic crimes of the French military (International Action Centre)

Many young people in Paris were innocent victims of the Nov. 13 attack, but that doesn’t mean that the French imperialist state is innocent. While the 1789 French Revolution raised the idealistic slogans of liberty, equality and fraternity, French imperialism, which developed from that bourgeois revolution, has a bloody history across the world…
When imperialist France had just emerged from German occupation after World War II, the Arab and Berber peoples began carrying out mass demonstrations and uprisings in Algeria against French colonial rule. To suppress that rebellion, for several days French troops and police, acting on orders from the French president issued on May 8, 1945, massacred as many as 45,000 Algerians who peacefully demonstrated in the cities of Setif, Guelma and Kherrata. The French occupiers killed as many as a million Algerians trying to hold onto that nation, until the people finally won their liberation in 1962.
In 1947, French colonial troops slaughtered 89,000 people to “pacify” a rebellion in Madagascar, an African island in the Indian Ocean. During the long French war in Indochina, the French military killed many more Vietnamese, Laotians, Cambodians and some Chinese until French imperialism was finally driven out in 1954.
Even in Paris itself, on Oct. 17, 1961, French police opened fire on a demonstration of 30,000 Algerians, killing between 70 and 300 people …
This history of imperialist military intervention continues. French jets are bombing today in Syria and Iraq, along with the U.S.-led “coalition.” French jets opened the air war against Libya in 2011, leading NATO’s barbaric destruction of that country.

Mass Surveillance Isn’t the Answer to Fighting Terrorism (New York Times)

It’s a wretched yet predictable ritual after each new terrorist attack: Certain politicians and government officials waste no time exploiting the tragedy for their own ends. The remarks on Monday by John Brennan, the director of the Central Intelligence Agency, took that to a new and disgraceful low…
It is hard to believe anything Mr. Brennan says.

The Drone Papers (Intercept)

The Intercept has obtained a cache of secret documents detailing the inner workings of the U.S. military’s assassination program in Afghanistan, Yemen, and Somalia. The documents, provided by a whistleblower, offer an unprecedented glimpse into Obama’s drone wars.

Nicole Aschoff, Connor Kilpatrick, Paul Heideman: The Socialism of Bernie Sanders (Jacobin)

The novelty of Bernie Sanders has long been his adoption of the term “democratic socialist” to describe his political beliefs. On the presidential campaign trail, by way of definition, he’s repeatedly pointed to European countries with relatively robust welfare states.
On Thursday, in a major campaign address, he turned back stateside. Sanders cast himself not as the heir of Eugene Debs — a portrait of whom hangs in his congressional office — but of Franklin Roosevelt. In short, for Sanders, democratic socialism means New Deal liberalism.

Palestine

Daniel Boffey: Ed Miliband accuses David Cameron of ‘inexplicable silence’ in row over Gaza (Guardian)

[T]he death toll of Palestinians exceeded 1,650 and Israel confirmed that it had lost 63 soldiers and three civilians, its highest death toll since the 2006 Lebanon war…
[S]ince the Israeli offensive began on 8 July, 136 schools – some serving as shelters – 24 hospitals and clinics and 25 ambulances have been damaged or destroyed, while eight UN aid workers and at least two Palestinian Red Crescent volunteers have now been reported as killed.
Some 40% of the sixth-most densely populated area on Earth is now a war zone, with a quarter of the Gazan population displaced.

Gili Cohen: Dozens of innocents killed in IDF’s ‘Hannibal’ protocol / עשרות חפים מפשע נפגעו מהפעלת “נוהל חניבעל” באזור רפיח (Haaretz)

The protocol – involving massive use of force in an effort to rescue a captured soldier, even at risk to his life – was employed in the rescue attempt of 2nd Lt Hadar Goldin. Palestinians say more than 130 people were killed.

Hagai El-Ad: אנחנו אמרנו להם לצאת מהבית, זה הם שאשמים במותם / Blaming Palestinians for their own deaths (+972)

It is moral because we told them to leave, and those who stayed did so at their own peril. It’s moral because Hamas encouraged them to stay, that’s why this is a self-inflicted genocide carried out by Hamas. The Palestinians who died in Shejaiya, in Khan Younis, actually everywhere and always, are to blame for their own deaths. Maybe it’s only the children who aren’t guilty of their own deaths – maybe it’s the parents who are to blame. As for the elderly people who died, that’s definitely Hamas’ fault. Whichever way you twist it, that blood was not spilled by our hands.
How deeply can you suppress the denial by Israelis? How can the prime minister – the prime minister of the army whose air force killed four nameless children on the beach in Gaza for the world’s cameras to see – look straight into the camera and tell the Palestinians of Gaza, “We want you to be safe”?

Gideon Levy: What, it took Washington 25 days to call the Gaza war barbaric? / על הברבריות (Haaretz)

The Palestinians’ famed barbarity has finally reached Washington in another Israeli public-relations feat…
[T]he White House spokesman released a statement calling the capture of the Israeli officer and the killing of his two comrades “a barbaric violation” of the cease-fire agreement. The restrained American spokesman used the word “barbaric” for the first time in this war.
Nothing else was considered barbaric. Not the Israeli shell that landed two days earlier on Shujaiyeh’s crowded market killing 17 people and wounding 150 at the height of another cease-fire, not the shell that fell on an UNRWA school where 3,000 refugees were hiding, not the bombing of the Gaza power station, the bombing of the university, the bomb dropped by those excellent Israel Air Force pilots on a four-story dwelling in Khan Yunis without warning, killing 35, including 18 children and eight women – apparently the most deadly bombing in Gaza ever.
Only the abduction and the killing of two soldiers. This is an American spokesman also afflicted with racism; “barbarity” is preserved only for one side.

Three articles by Yoav:
Israeli mob attacks anti-war demo in Haifa chanting “Death to the Arabs” / תומכי המלחמה תקפו באלימות הפגנת שלום בחיפה בעודם קוראים “מוות לערבים” (Free Haifa)
Israel’s Genocidal Rampage Must Be Stopped (Free Haifa)

One of the best Zionist writers that I follow recently is Uri Misgav from Haaretz. At the beginning of the latest attack on Gaza he declared that Israel already failed, because it started a military operation without any conceived goal that can be achieved. But he failed to read the writing on the wall. The Israeli politicians had a very clear goal that the mob was chanting in all the “demonstrations” that prepared for the rampage: “Ma-vet la-a-ra-vim!” – “Death to the Arabs”.

Israel disproves its own lies about the Rafah massacre – and the massacre continues… (Free Haifa)

Thailand | Ukraine | EU elections | torture | Palestine/Israel

Kate Hodal: Thai king endorses army chief as new leader (Guardian)

Thailand’s king has endorsed the army chief who seized power in a coup last week, amid widespread international criticism and increasing detention of those considered to be opposed to the takeover.
General Prayuth Chan-ocha (pràjút tɕanʔoːtɕʰaː ประยุทธ์ จันทร์ โอชา) told journalists on Monday morning that the much revered King Bhumibol Adulyadej (pʰuːmípʰon ʔàdunjádèːt ภูมิพลอดุลยเดช), 86, had officially backed him as the leader of the military council now running the country…
Prayuth has enacted sweeping changes in the four days since he deposed the democratically elected government.
More than 200 journalists, academics, politicians and activists have been rounded up and many of them detained in undisclosed locations, ostensibly to give them “time to think”, as Prayuth said last week.

The 21 announcements of the National Peace and Order Maintenance Council (Prachatai [pràtɕʰaːtʰaj ประชาไท])
Associated Press: Thailand: ousted cabinet minister surfaces from hiding to condemn coup (Guardian)

Former education minister Chaturon Chaisang (tɕaːtùron tɕʰǎːjsɛ̌ːŋ จาตุรนต์ ฉายแสง) detained after warning military coup could lead to ‘a disaster’. (Cāturont̒ C̄hāys̄æng was a leader of the leftist student uprising against the ruling junta in 1973.)

Thaweeporn Kummetha (tʰá wiːpʰɔːn kʰúm meːtʰaː ทวีพรคุ้มเมธา): Alternative parties in polarized Thai politics (Prachatai, November 2013)

Thomas Gaist: New Ukraine government launches airstrikes, prepares austerity measures (World Socialist Web Site)

The character of the new Ukrainian government headed by billionaire oligarch Petro Poroshenko has been quickly revealed in the day since presidential elections held over the weekend: violent repression of opposition to the regime, particularly in the east, combined with brutal austerity measures directed at the entire working class.

Sitzverteilung der Fraktionen in den EU-Staaten (Distribution of seats in the EU parliament) (Standard)
Helena Smith: Leftwing Syriza party triumphs in European elections in Greece (Guardian)
Ian Traynor: Front National wins European parliament elections in France (Guardian)
Patrick Wintour. Nicholas Watt: Ukip wins European elections with ease to set off political earthquake (Guardian)Philip Oltermann: Germany: Merkel’s CDU wins European election despite worst ever result (Guardian)

Nick Barrickman: US judge allows for continued force feeding of Guantanamo Bay prisoner (World Socialist Web Site)

US District Court Judge Gladys Kessler on Thursday ruled to allow the continued force-feeding of 42-year-old Abu Wa’el Dhiab at the Guantanamo Bay prison complex in Cuba, reversing her previous injunction against the practice…
Dhiab, a father of four, has been detained without charges at the complex for over 12 years. He was cleared for release from the camp in 2009, but has continued to languish in the camp at the hands of the Obama Administration.

Palestinian youths shot dead on camera (CNN)
Peter Beaumont: Footage of Palestinian boys being shot is genuine, says Israeli rights group (Guardian)

The Israeli human rights group B’Tselem has concluded that footage capturing the moment two Palestinian teenagers were shot dead by Israeli soldiers despite posing no risk to them is “genuine and consistent”, contradicting Israeli army claims that the footage is likely to have been forged.
A short section of edited CCTV footage was released earlier this week showing Nadim Nawara, 17, and Mohammad Salameh, 16, being shot and killed. Since then Israeli military sources have been quoted anonymously on several occasions in the local media trying to undermine the tape’s credibility…
Neither of the youths was throwing stones when they were killed, and one was walking away from the Israeli position, with his back to soldiers, when he was shot.

B’Tselem’s initial findings on Nakba Day incident at Bitunya: grave suspicion that forces willfully killed two Palestinians, injured two others (B’Tselem)
Ali Abunimah: After snipers kill children, US affirms “deep respect” for “Israeli army’s moral code” (Electronic Intifada)

The US government has reaffirmed its “deep respect for the Israeli army’s moral code” days after video emerged of the cold-blooded sniper killings of two Palestinian boys…
The comments, from US State Department spokesperson Jennifer Psaki praising the Israeli army, came as Associated Press journalist Matt Lee pressed her on her earlier call for Israel to investigate the killings.

Tamiflu | Ukraine | Africa | Korea | MAI/TTIP/TAFTA/TPA | Palestine

Rob sent these links:
James Gallagher: Tamiflu: Millions wasted on flu drug, claims major report (BBC)

Hundreds of millions of pounds may have been wasted on a drug for flu that works no better than paracetamol, a landmark analysis has said.
The UK has spent £473m on Tamiflu, which is stockpiled by governments globally to prepare for flu pandemics.
The Cochrane Collaboration claimed the drug did not prevent the spread of flu or reduce dangerous complications, and only slightly helped symptoms.

Michel Chossudovsky: Who Owns the Rights on Tamiflu: Rumsfeld To Profit From Bird Flu Hoax (Global Research)

Rob also sent these links on Ukraine:
Jim Maceda: Tour of Ukraine-Russia Border Finds No Signs of Military Buildup (NBC)
Alastair Jamieson: NATO: No Sign of Russian Troop Withdrawal From Ukraine Border (NBC)

I read that Russia says the images of the Russian military buildup were taken last year:
Florian Rötzer: Was beweisen Satellitenbilder? (Telepolis)
Generalstab: NATO präsentiert alte Satellitenbilder russischer Truppen an ukrainischer Grenze (RIA)
Florian Rötzer: Nächste Etappe im Streit um die Bilder (Telepolis)
In English:
NATO’s Russian troop build-up satellite images ‘show 2013 drills’ (RT)
More on Ukraine:
Jack Rasmus: Ukraine’s IMF Deal: Heading Toward a Greece-like Depression? (CounterPunch)
Emmanuel Dreyfus: Ukraine beyond politics / En Ukrainujo, la ekstremistoj de naciismo (Monde Diplomatique)

The Ukraine parliament has promised elections, after the president was swept away in a brief burst of revolution in Kiev. Can the former opposition, including the far right, unite to form a viable future government?

Tariq Ali: How Vladimir Putin became evil (Guardian)

The US and UK condemn him for Crimea but supported him over the war in Chechnya. Why? Because now he refuses to play ball.

Samir Amin: Russia and the Ukraine Crisis: The Eurasian Project in Conflict with the Triad Imperialist Policies (MRzine)
David Mandel: Ukraine Between “Popular Uprising for Democracy” and “Fascist Putsch” (MRzine)

Lori M. Wallach: The corporation invasion (Monde diplomatique)

A new treaty being negotiated in secret between the US and the EU has been specifically engineered to give companies what they want — the dismantling of all social, consumer and environmental protection, and compensation for any infringement of their assumed rights.

Serge Halimi: A trade agreement nobody should want / Transatlantika kaptilo (Monde diplomatique)

You can safely bet that the Transatlantic Partnership Agreement (TPA) will not feature as much in the forthcoming European elections as the extradition of illegal immigrants or the (alleged) teaching of “gender theory” in French schools. The TPA will affect 800 million affluent people and almost half the world’s wealth. The European Commission is negotiating this free trade agreement with Washington on behalf of the EU’s 28 member states, and the European parliament elected this May will be expected to ratify it. Nothing is settled as yet, but on 11 February the French president François Hollande, during his state visit to Washington, proposed to speed things up, saying: “We have everything to gain by moving quickly. Otherwise, as we know all too well, there will be a build-up of fears, threats and tensions.”

Chris Gilbert: Don’t Pray for Venezuela: The Struggle Against Contemporary Fascism (MRzine)

The fascists who operate today in Venezuela — to say nothing of those active in the Ukraine, Greece, or Colombia — are by no means a historical aberration. Only if we take one of capitalism’s key myths at face value must we imagine that our current society is the wondrous culmination of a teleological evolutionary process and cannot just as well contain a host of violent and irrational elements that, far from being “atavistic,” are simply part and parcel with capitalist modernity. In fact, capitalism’s historical tendency, if any such thing exists, is not toward growing enlightenment but rather toward increasing barbarism.

Dan Beeton: Violent Protests in Venezuela Fit a Pattern (MRzine)

Ali Behran Özçelik: Poulantzasian Themes for Understanding Turkey’s Political Crisis (New Left Project)

On 17 December 2013, the sons of three Turkish cabinet members, the head of a state-owned bank and the mayor of a municipality in Istanbul were taken into custody in a wave of raids sparked by allegations of corruption and bribery. The Prime Minister responded by a move which ‘effectively stalled the probe’. Since then, the political turmoil in the country has only deepened. ‘Almost every evening since Dec. 17’, writes the journalist Kadri Gürsel, ‘Turks have been listening to audio recordings leaked on YouTube, starring Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan’. We have seen the police and a state prosecutor stop a truck on suspicion of carrying weapons to Syria which was in fact being escorted by the intelligence organisation of the same state. Turkey is without a doubt passing through what even the bourgeois media outlets quickly and rightly called a ‘political crisis’.

Nick Turse: America’s Non-Stop Ops in Africa (TomDispatch)

The numbers tell the story: 10 exercises, 55 operations, 481 security cooperation activities.
For years, the U.S. military has publicly insisted that its efforts in Africa are small scale. Its public affairs personnel and commanders have repeatedly claimed no more than a “light footprint” on that continent, including a remarkably modest presence when it comes to military personnel. They have, however, balked at specifying just what that light footprint actually consists of. During an interview, for instance, a U.S. Africa Command (AFRICOM) spokesman once expressed worry that tabulating the command’s deployments would offer a “skewed image” of U.S. efforts there…
U.S. troops carry out a wide range of operations in Africa, including airstrikes targeting suspected militants, night raids aimed at kidnapping terror suspects, airlifts of French and African troops onto the battlefields of proxy wars, and evacuation operations in destabilized countries. Above all, however, the U.S. military conducts training missions, mentors allies, and funds, equips, and advises its local surrogates.

AFP: South Korea recovers suspected North Korean drone (Guardian)

South Korea says it has recovered an unidentified drone that crashed on one of its border islands the same day that North and South Korea exchanged artillery fire across their disputed maritime boundary.
The wreckage was discovered on Baengnyeong island, which lies just south of the maritime border.

Paengryŏng-do 白翎島 is actually disputed territory, the island is controlled by south Korea, but also claimed by the DPRK. This is the area where the south Korean warship Cheonan sank in 2010; south Korea accused the DPRK to have fired a torpedo at the Choenan from a “midget submarine.”
Tania Branigan: South Korea fires back at North after artillery shells land in disputed waters (Guardian)

Ramzy Baroud: Palestinian leaders’ showdown turns ugly (Asia Times)

The ongoing Abbas-Dahlan spat is confirming all the suspicions of Fatah’s detractors regarding the Fatah leadership’s role in conspiring with Israel to destroy the resistance and its leaders. Strangely, both Abbas and Dahlan continue to present themselves as the saviors of Palestinians, while each accuses the other of being an Israeli collaborator and an American stooge.

Gabrielle Chan: Bill Shorten speech on Israeli settlements stirs Palestinian group (Guardian)

Serge Halimi: Quel cap pour la Tunisie ? / Tunisia: change, but no change (Monde diplomatique)

Tunisia has taken the most hopeful direction after its Arab Spring. But none of the entrants in the forthcoming election seems to have the valid and drastic economic plans that will be needed to fulfil the aspirations of Tunisians.

Noam Chomsky: The Week the World Stood Still (TomDispatch)

The world stood still 50 years ago during the last week of October, from the moment when it learned that the Soviet Union had placed nuclear-armed missiles in Cuba until the crisis was officially ended — though unknown to the public, only officially.

John Pilger: The Forgotten Coup: How the Same Godfather Rules from Canberra to Kiev (CounterPunch)

On 11 November [1975] — the day [the Australian president Gough] Whitlam was to inform Parliament about the secret CIA presence in Australia — he was summoned by [the Governor-General of Australia, Sir John] Kerr. Invoking archaic vice-regal “reserve powers”, Kerr sacked the democratically elected prime minister. The problem was solved.

USAid doing the CIA’s work:
AP: US secretly created ‘Cuban Twitter’ to stir unrest and undermine government (Guardian)
Paul Lewis, Dan Roberts: White House denies ‘Cuban Twitter’ ZunZuneo programme was covert (Guardian)