Korea | Palestine | Syria

Justin McCurry: South Korea set to change policy on North as liberal wins election (Guardian)

Moon Jae-in, a left-leaning liberal who favours engagement with North Korea, has won South Korea’s presidential election, raising hopes of a potential rapprochement with Pyongyang.
The former human rights lawyer won 41.4% of the vote, according to an exit poll cited by the Yonhap news agency, placing him comfortably ahead of his nearest rivals, the centrist software entrepreneur Ahn Cheol-soo and the conservative hardliner Hong Joon-pyo, both of whom have conceded defeat…
Moon, a former student activist who was imprisoned in the 1970s for protesting against Park’s father, the former dictator Park Chung-hee, declared a decade of hardline policy towards Pyongyang a failure…
Moon’s other foreign policy priority will be to repair relations with China, which opposes the deployment in South Korea of a US missile defence system – known as Thaad – and says Seoul should stop joint military drills with the US to encourage Pyongyang to halt its nuclear programme.

Tim Shorrock: The United States Should Listen to South Korea—or It Will Reap the Whirlwind (Nation)

Recent US actions underscore a deep-seated problem: refusal to see South Korea as an independent nation with interests of its own.

Leo Chang: US Hegemony on Korean Peninsula Challenged (CounterPunch)

The North does not want war. Neither do South Korea and China. There will be a war only if US wants it…
The North’s goals are: 1) recognition of the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea (DPRK) as a legitimate political entity and a nuclear state; 2) stopping the US conspiracy of regime change, biannual “decapitation” exercises along with South Korean military; 3) lifting sanctions; and 4) replacing the armistice of 1953 with a permanent peace treaty…
The red line for North Korea is: sovereignty and self-determination. And if it takes nuclear weapons to deter the great powers, so be it.

Christine Ahn: The High Costs of US Warmongering Against North Korea (Truthout)
Mehdi Hasan: Why Do North Koreans Hate Us? One Reason — They Remember the Korean War. (Intercept)
US right wing is foaming at the mouth over the election of Mun Chae-in in south Korea:
Ethan Epstein: Bad Moon Rising (Weekly Standard)

Moon has said he’s eager to travel to Pyongyang to meet North Korean dictator Kim Jong-un —suggesting, at one point, he’d like to visit North Korea before the United States—and even re-open the Kaesong joint industrial complex, a ridiculous facility where South Korean companies employ North Korean laborers to build products. Kaesong was a financial boon to the North Korean regime, and was shuttered by President Park. But Moon wants to re-open the spigot, flooding Pyongyang with cash to fund its missile and nuclear programs, and keep the gulag humming.
All of this sets up something of a conflict between South Korea and its stalwart ally, the United States. The Trump administration is pressuring other countries to crack down on North Korea, just as South Korea has elected a president who wants to do just the opposite. And President Trump has not made many friends in Korea since his inauguration, particularly by suggesting that Seoul should foot the bill for THAAD, the U.S. missile defense system that was recently installed there. (Moon, for his part, has said he’d like to reevaluate THAAD’s deployment, perhaps a rare agreement he can find with Trump.)

Peace is war. More froth:
Todd Royal: The election of Moon Jae-in could mean war in Asia (Asia Times)
Bradley K. Martin: Moon’s right-hand man former friend to the North (Asia Times)

A Document of General Principles and Policies (Hamas)

Palestine is a land that was seized by a racist, anti-human and colonial Zionist project that was founded on a false promise (the Balfour Declaration), on recognition of a usurping entity and on imposing a fait accompli by force.

Hamas accepts Palestinian state with 1967 borders (AlJazeera)

Hamas has presented a new political document that accepts the formation of a Palestinian state along the 1967 borders, without recognising the statehood of Israel, and says that the conflict in Palestine is not a religious one…
While Hamas’ 1988 founding charter called for the takeover of all of mandate Palestine, including present-day Israel, the new document says it will accept the 1967 borders as the basis for a Palestinian state, with Jerusalem as its capital and the return of refugees to their homes…
Hamas has controlled the Gaza Strip since 2007, after winning elections and forcefully pushing its Fatah rivals out. Since then, Gaza has suffered three major Israeli assaults, whick killed more than 3,500 Palestinians, and a crippling 10-year-long siege…
Israeli officials rejected the document before it was made official, calling it an attempt by Hamas to trick the world into believing it was becoming a more moderate group.

Rawan Damen: The Price of Oslo (AlJazeera)
Nathan Thrall: Israel-Palestine: the real reason there’s still no peace (Guardian)

The possibility of a lasting deal seems as far away as ever – and the history of failed negotiations suggests it’s largely because Israel prefers the status quo.

Evan Dyer: Syria’s al-Qaeda affiliate escapes from Canada’s terror list (CBC)

The Syrian branch of al-Qaeda, currently calling itself Hay’at Tahrir al-Sham (HTS), has succeeded in getting itself off Canada’s list of designated terrorist entities following its latest identity shift.
That complicates the task of prosecuting Canadians who travel to join the group, send it money or propagandize on its behalf.
It also illustrates the pitfalls of Canada following the lead of the U.S. in designating terror groups…
The United States put the group on its terrorist list in 2012, as the Syrian branch of al-Qaeda, and Canada followed suit…
Al-Jawlani’s group remained loyal to the mother organization founded by bin Laden, and Jabhat al-Nusra and ISIS have been at each other’s throats ever since. Meanwhile, the U.S.-led coalition focused its bombing on Islamic State, not al-Nusra…
[I]n January of this year, the group shifted again, nominally dissolving itself and joining with four other jihadi groups. It altered its name, changing the word “Jabhat” (Front) to “Hay’at” (Organization), and “Fateh” (Conquest) to “Tahrir” (Liberation).
And yet HTS has not been designated in the U.S. Canada, which usually follows the U.S. listing closely, has also not listed the group.
The change is significant, and the U.S. State Department confirmed to CBC News that HTS members are no longer considered terrorists…
The reasons for the reluctance to list the new al-Qaeda formation may have to do with one of its new members, the Nour ed-Dine Zenki Brigade, a jihadi group from the Aleppo governorate.
The Zenki Brigade was an early and prominent recipient of U.S. aid, weapons and training…
For the U.S. to designate HTS now would mean acknowledging that it supplied sophisticated weapons including TOW anti-tank missiles to “terrorists,” and draw attention to the fact that the U.S. continues to arm Islamist militias in Syria.

Greece | Inequality | Israel/Syria | France | Australia | Torture | Nicaragua | Ukraine

Tariq Ali: Greece’s Fight Against European Austerity (CounterPunch) / Ο ΣΥΡΙΖΑ να αντιμετωπίσει τους Έλληνες ολιγάρχες, την μαφία των εφοπλιστών και την Εκκλησία (Νόστιμον ήμαρ)

If SYRIZA wins it will mark the beginnings of a fightback against austerity and neo-liberalism in Europe. Two concurrent processes will be in motion from the beginning of the victory. There will be a strong attempt by the EU elite led by Germany to try and tame SYRIZA via a combination of threats and concessions. The aim of this operation is simple. To try and split SYRIZA at a very early stage.

Welcome, Sýriza! / Willkommen Syriza (Anti-Imperialist Camp)

Sýriza will very soon be faced with a choice: either they turn into a prized reseller of some prettified austerity and transmogrify with lightning speed into a new Pasók – that would be the choice of the European social-democrats. Or they leave the Greeks in no doubt and prepare the people for a violent clash with the EU oligarchy, a clash with an undecided outcome.

Sebastian Budgen, Stathis Kouvelakis: Greece: Phase One (Jacobin)

Syriza was set up by several different organizations in 2004, as an electoral alliance. Its biggest component was Alexis Tsipras’s party Synaspismos — initially the Coalition of the Left and Progress, and eventually renamed the Coalition of the Left and of the Movements — which had existed as a distinct party since 1991. It emerged from a series of splits in the Communist movement.
On the other hand, Syriza also comprises much smaller formations. Some of these came out of the old Greek far left. In particular, the Communist Organization of Greece (KOE), one the country’s main Maoist groups. This organization had three members of parliament (MPs) elected in May 2012. That’s also true of the Internationalist Workers’ Left (DEA), which is from a Trotskyist tradition, as well as other groups mostly of a Communist background. For example, the Renewing Communist Ecological Left (AKOA), which came out of the old Communist Party (Interior).

Paul Krugman: Ending Greece’s Nightmare (New York Times)

To understand the political earthquake in Greece, it helps to look at Greece’s May 2010 “standby arrangement” with the International Monetary Fund, under which the so-called troika — the I.M.F., the European Central Bank and the European Commission — extended loans to the country in return for a combination of austerity and reform. It’s a remarkable document, in the worst way. The troika, while pretending to be hardheaded and realistic, was peddling an economic fantasy. And the Greek people have been paying the price for those elite delusions…
If anything, the problem with Syriza’s plans may be that they’re not radical enough. Debt relief and an easing of austerity would reduce the economic pain, but it’s doubtful whether they are sufficient to produce a strong recovery. On the other hand, it’s not clear what more any Greek government can do unless it’s prepared to abandon the euro, and the Greek public isn’t ready for that.
… Mr. Tsipras is being far more realistic than officials who want the beatings to continue until morale improves. The rest of Europe should give him a chance to end his country’s nightmare.

Larry Elliott, Ed Pilkington: New Oxfam report says half of global wealth held by the 1% (Guardian)

Billionaires and politicians gathering in Switzerland this week will come under pressure to tackle rising inequality after a study found that – on current trends – by next year, 1% of the world’s population will own more wealth than the other 99%…
Oxfam said the wealth of the richest 80 doubled in cash terms between 2009 and 2014, and that there was an increasing tendency for wealth to be inherited and to be used as a lobbying tool by the rich to further their own interests. It noted that more than a third of the 1,645 billionaires listed by Forbes inherited some or all of their riches, while 20% have interests in the financial and insurance sectors, a group which saw their cash wealth increase by 11% in the 12 months to March 2014.
These sectors spent $550m lobbying policymakers in Washington and Brussels during 2013. During the 2012 US election cycle alone, the financial sector provided $571m in campaign contributions.

Hayden Cooper: Israeli airstrike kills six Hezbollah fighters in Syria’s Golan Heights, including son of former commander (ABC)

An Israeli airstrike inside Syria has killed six members of the Hezbollah military force, including the son of assassinated senior commander Imad Mughniyeh.
The deaths were announced after an Israeli helicopter conducted a strike near Quneitra, on the Syrian side of the Golan Heights.

Israel Joins Forces With ISIS? Tel Aviv Bombs Syria for Sixth Time in 18 months (21st Century Wire)

Under direct pressure from the US, UN Security Council members do not appear to be willing to suggest sanctions, or hold Israel responsible in any way for any its repeated attacks against its neighbors, for fear of what misfortunes and diplomatic difficulties might befall them. As a result, Israel has been acting with impunity in the region. Since 2006, Israel has conducted several air strikes on Syria. Below is a description of those attacks:
Al Quneitra (18 January 2015) – Missile attack near the Golan Heights, killing 6 Hezbollah and Iranian anti-ISIS soldiers, including one al Quds commander.
Damascus and Dimas attack (7 December 2014) – Alleged Israeli airstrikes in Syria against a warehouse of advanced S-300 missiles, which were en route to Hezbollah in Lebanon.
Missile Strike at Golan Heights (23 September 2014) – IDF Patriot Missile battery shot down a Syrian MIG21, allegedly because it violated Israeli airspace.
Beqaa Valley airstrike (24 February 2014) – Two airstrikes against an alleged Hezbollah missile base in Lebanon near the border with Syria.
2nd Latakia attack (26 January 2014) – Alleged Israeli airstrike against a Syrian warehouse of S-300 missiles.
Snawbar airstrike (30 October 2013) – Alleged Israeli airstrike at an air defense site in Snawbar.
Latakia explosion (5 July 2013) – Alleged Israeli airstrike on a Syrian depot containing Russian-made Yakhont anti-ship missiles.
Airstrikes on Syria (3-5 May 2013) – Airstrikes on Syria against alleged long-ranged weapons sent from Iran to Hezbollah.
Jamraya airstrike (30 January 2013) – Alleged Israeli airstrike on a Syrian convoy allegedly transporting weapons to Hezbollah. Other sources stated the targeted site was a military research center in Jamraya responsible for developing biological and chemical weapons.
Operation Orchard (6 September 2007) Israeli airstrike on a ‘suspected’ nuclear reactor in the Deir ez-Zor region of Syria. The Israeli and U.S. governments imposed virtually total news blackouts immediately after the raid that held for seven months.
Ain es Saheb airstrike (5 October 2003) – Israeli Air Force operation against an alleged Palestinian militant training camp in Ain es Saheb, Syria.

Israel’s pre-election aerial bombing (Haaretz)

The examples are many, and they cut across party lines: the escalation in retaliatory actions prior to the 1955 Knesset election; the bombing of the Iraqi nuclear reactor in 1981; Operation Grapes of Wrath in Lebanon in 1996; Operation Cast Lead in Gaza in 2008; Operation Pillar of Defense in Gaza in 2012; and on Sunday the helicopter attack in Syria “attributed to Israel” was added to the list. All of these operations require advanced preparations. There will always be the explanation that the enemy was the one to start it and that Israel was only responding to a provocation or heading off a greater danger. In any event, however, it is difficult not to get the impression that politicians tend to take risks and approve military action with greater ease when some of the polls paint a gloomy picture over their standing with the voters.

Tal Niv: The Israeli general who spoke the truth about the Syria strike’s timing (Haaretz)

Thank you very much, Yoav Galant, for one thing: that you spoke the truth. Thanks for saying that it’s possible that the timing of Sunday’s assassination of six Hezbollah militants, including Jihad Mughniyeh, son of the slain Hezbollah military leader Imad Mughniyeh, could be connected with the current Israeli election campaign (or as you put it, “not unconnected”).

Nathan Thrall: Rage in Jerusalem (London Review of Books)

What the government of Israel calls its eternal, undivided capital is among the most precarious, divided cities in the world. When it conquered the eastern part of Jerusalem and the West Bank – both administered by Jordan – in 1967, Israel expanded the city’s municipal boundaries threefold. As a result, approximately 37 per cent of Jerusalem’s current residents are Palestinian. They have separate buses, schools, health facilities, commercial centres, and speak a different language…
All Jerusalemites pay taxes, but the proportion of the municipal budget allocated to the roughly 300,000 Palestinian residents of a city with a population of 815,000 doesn’t exceed 10 per cent… More than three-quarters of the city’s Palestinians live below the poverty line…
Restrictive zoning prevents Palestinians from building legally. Israel has designated 52 per cent of land in East Jerusalem as unavailable for development and 35 per cent for Jewish settlements, leaving the Palestinian population with only 13 per cent, most of which is already built on. Those with growing families are forced to choose between building illegally and leaving the city. Roughly a third of them decide to build, meaning that 93,000 residents are under constant threat of their homes being demolished.

Ben Doherty: Manus Island detention centre at risk of another riot as 500 join hunger strike (Guardian)

Manus Island detention centre is on the verge of another riot, with more than 500 men now joining a mass hunger strike and at least two men having stitched their lips together.
Water pumps at the centre have broken, meaning there is no access to running water for showers.
The 1,000 men in detention and staff have been given bottles of water to shower with, and staff have been told they cannot shower, flush toilets, or wash their clothes. It could be weeks until water is restored.

Glenn Greenwald: France arrests a comedian for his Facebook comments, showing the sham of the west’s “free speech” celebration (Intercept)

Forty-eight hours after hosting a massive march under the banner of free expression, France opened a criminal investigation of a controversial French comedian for a Facebook post he wrote about the Charlie Hebdo attack, and then this morning, arrested him for that post on charges of “defending terrorism.” …
The arrest, so soon after the epic Paris free speech march, underscores the selectivity and fraud of this week’s “free speech” parade. It also shows why those who want to criminalize the ideas they like are at least as dangerous and tyrannical as the ideas they targeted.

Zack Whittaker: Europe’s answer to France terror ‘attack on free speech’ is greater Internet censorship (ZDnet)
Ruadhán Mac Cormaic: France arrests 54 for anti-Semitism and backing terror (Irish Times)

In a message sent to all prosecutors and judges, the justice ministry laid out the legal basis for arresting those who defend the attacks that killed 17 people in three incidents in Paris last week. The circular also covers those responsible for racist or anti-Semitic words or acts…
The ministry said it was issuing the order to protect freedom of expression from comments that could incite violence or hatred. It said no one should be allowed to use their religion to justify hate speech…
[T]he government [is planning] its response to the attacks, which is expected to include broader laws on phone tapping and other intelligence gathering…

Stéphane Kovacs: Attentats : 54 interpellations pour apologie du terrorisme (Le Figaro)

Les premières condamnations, lundi, ne les ont pas dissuadées. La garde à vue de Dieudonné, ce mercredi, non plus. Depuis l’attentat contre Charlie Hebdo il y a une semaine, pas moins de 54 personnes sont visées par une procédure pour apologie du terrorisme ou menaces verbales d’actions terroristes. Trente-sept procédures, précise le ministère de la Justice, concernent l’apologie du terrorisme et 17 des menaces.

Ann Telnaes: France’s free speech double standard (Washington Post)

The French comedian Dieudonné M’bala M’bala was arrested for posting a Facebook comment appearing to condone terrorism. He wrote “I’m feeling Charlie Coulibaly”, in a reference to gunman Amedy Coulibaly, who killed four hostages in a Kosher supermarket in Paris on January 9th.

Kim Sengupta: Locking up Muslims for extreme views turns prisons into recruitment pools (Independent)

Muslims make up 70 per cent of France’s prison inmates despite being only eight per cent of the population.

Mohamedou Ould Slahi: Guantánamo Diary (Guardian)
Oh Canada …
Murtaza Hussain: Prison Dispatches from the War on Terror: Former Child Gitmo Detainee Going Blind (Intercept)

Nearly 13 years after he was first captured as a child soldier in Afghanistan, Omar Khadr remains behind bars in a Canadian prison where he is losing his remaining eyesight, according to his lawyer.

Jonathan Watts: Land of opportunity – and fear – along route of Nicaragua’s giant new canal (Guardian)

In an era of breathtaking engineering feats, there is unease about what this mega project will mean for people and their homes, wildlife and ecosystems. Will it bring wealth and growth or confusion and destruction?

Reuters: North Korean defector changes story after seeing father in video (Guardian)
AFP: UN dismisses North Korea’s claim that damning human rights report is invalid (Guardian)

Shaun Walker: Kiev ‘punishes’ civilians in Donetsk with travel permits and drugs blockade (Guardian)

Canada | Mali | Syria | Palestine/Israel | USA

May sent this article:
Martin Lukacs: Canada’s First Nations protest heralds a new alliance (Guardian)

Philippe Leymarie: Mali, a country divided / Au Mali, les belligérants s’impatientent (Monde diplomatique)
Alexander Mezyaev: Military Intervention in Mali: Special Operation to Recolonize Africa (Global Research)
Tony Cartalucci: US Covert Support to Al Qaeda in Northern Mali, France “Comes to the Rescue” (Global Research)
Philippe Noudjenoume: Françafrique : Lettre ouverte au président François Hollande (Pambazuka)
Bernard Schmid: Doppelte Mission in Mali (Telepolis)

Harriet Sherwood: Russia condemns Israeli air strike on Syria (Guardian)
Ghaith Abdul-Ahad: Syrian rebels sidetracked by scramble for spoils of war (Guardian)
Wilhelm Langthaler: On vice-president Sharaa’s proposal for a political solution (Anti-Imperialist Camp)

Israeli settlements symbolise the acute lack of justice experienced by the Palestinian people (UN Commissioner on Human Rights)
Cleansing the Jordan Valley (Haaretz)
Ken Klippenstein, Norman Finkelstein: The Meaning of the Arab Spring for Palestinian Rights (CounterPunch)
Laila el-Haddad: What’s Really Going On at Rafah? (al-Shabaka)

The Rafah Crossing remains the sole passage in and out of Gaza for all its residents. At the present time, its operation and usage remains under the control of Egypt and managed by Israeli guidelines. And as last month’s incident demonstrates, the situation remains unstable and the Crossing itself unreliable. Unlike airports or traditional border crossings, it is still liable to be completely shut down at a moment’s notice, stranding both Palestinians, and their economy. So far, Egyptian policies on the crossing have not departed from those of years past. It remains to be seen whether the Mursi government’s meetings with Hamas can or will bring change.

Saree Makdisi: If Not Two States, Then One (New York Times)
Ali Abunimah: Mahmoud Abbas’ real “accomplishment” was not the UN vote on Palestine (AlJazeera)
Ramzy Baroud: The Palestinian Prisoners’ Intifada (CounterPunch)
Gideon Levy, Alex Levac: An infiltration thwarted, a Palestinian youth left to die (Haaretz, via DuckDuckGo and Google)
David Horowitz: A different Israel after January 22 (Times of Israel)

The elections [in Israel] will almost certainly yield a leadership that firmly rejects Palestinian statehood and adamantly champions settlement expansion — not so much because the electorate is swinging heavily to the right, but because the right has already swung heavily to the far right

Zeev Sternhell: הנחש משיל את עורו / Likud casts off its skin (Haaretz, via DuckDuckGo and Google News)

[C]ontrary to the Labor Party leader’s opinion, the average Israeli knows that the future of society will be decided in the territories. He also knows that the Likud intends to annex the territories without granting citizenship to its residents. Once that was a marginal, semi-subversive opinion – today it’s the viewpoint of the official leadership. Only Netanyahu, for fear of the Americans, is still playing the two-states game. Therefore, anyone who gives his vote to the right today is voting … in favor of an apartheid state in the full sense of the word.
The right has already decided that municipal autonomy is sufficient for the Palestinians: Self-rule and the right to self-determination are reserved for the Jews. In other words, the members of the Chosen People are entitled not only to the right to be their own masters, but to rule over the Palestinians as well. Such chutzpah … is unparalleled in today’s world. Suddenly in the post-colonial world comes a country that without batting an eyelash appropriates the right to enslave another nation, and calls itself an enlightened country that is fulfilling the Jewish people’s desire for freedom. … That’s how the Israelis are eliminating their country’s right to exist, with their own hands.
Annexing the territories is already creating a situation that no Western society can tolerate, because there is not a single country in the West that does not guarantee the equality of all the people living within its borders.

Gideon Levy: לאומנות השמאל / The racism of leftist nationalism (Haaretz, via DuckDuckGo and Google News)

The left-center bloc is no less racist and nationalist than the right. But unlike the right, it is racist and nationalist without emotion. …
Defense Minister Ehud Barak was the first to foster leftist nationalism when he said: “We are here and they are there.” That is, we also hate Arabs, but our solution is better. We’ll build a wall and let them rot behind it. We’ll give them a state and let them wallow in it. The main thing is for them to get out of our sight. … Tzipi Livni says correct things about the two-state solution, but she preaches from nationalist motives. She wants a state without (many) Arabs, a Jewish state, which she defines as a nationalist state. Israel for the Jews. Just like France for the French and Germany for the Germans. In French and German this sounds terrible; only in Hebrew does it pass muster. Not a word about morality and human rights for all.
Labor Party chief Shelly Yacimovich, meanwhile, makes firm and correct statements about social justice and discrimination, but she only wants justice for Jews.

Amy Goodman, Marcy Wheeler: Obama’s Cheney? “Assassination Czar” John Brennan Brings Legacy of Drone War and Torture to CIA Nod (Democracy Now)
Amy Goodman, Baher Azmy: 4 Years After Vow to Close Gitmo, Why Has Obama Signed NDAA Bill Barring Transfer of Its Prisoners? (Democracy Now)

Andre Vltchek: The Irrational, Racist Fear of China (CounterPunch)

South Africa | Canada | Japan | Palestine | CNN | Avaaz

Chris Mardsen: South Africa after the Marikana massacre / L’Afrique du Sud après le massacre de Marikana / Südafrika nach dem Massaker von Marikana (WSWS)

The police massacre of striking miners at Marikana is a watershed for post-apartheid South Africa and for the international class struggle. It demonstrates in the starkest form imaginable that the perspective of “black empowerment” and the “National Democratic Revolution” providing the basis for overcoming economic and social oppression has failed utterly. The central lesson of Marikana is that the fundamental division within society is class, not race.

Bill Van Auken: South Africa’s miners and the fear of “contagion” / Die Bergarbeiter in Südafrika und die Furcht vor „Ansteckung” (WSWS)

Keith Jones: Parti Quebecois to form minority government, after narrow election win (WSWS)
Isabeau Doucet: Fatal shooting at Pauline Marois Quebec victory speech ‍(Guardian)

Emma Graham-Harrison: Prevalence of malnutrition in southern Afghanistan ‘shocking’ (Guardian)

Around a third of young children in southern Afghanistan are acutely malnourished, with a level of deprivation similar to that found in famine zones, a government survey has found, despite the hundreds of millions of dollars in foreign aid that has been poured into the region. …
“What’s shocking is that this is really very high by global standards,” said Michael Keating, deputy head of the UN mission in Afghanistan. “This is the kind of malnutrition you associate with Africa and some of the most deprived parts of the world, not with an area that has received so much international attention and assistance.”

Gavan McCormack: Troubled Seas: Japan’s Pacific and East China Sea Domains (and Claims) (JapanFocus)

Harriet Sherwood: Rachel Corrie’s death was an accident, Israeli judge rules (Guardian)

From 2000-04 the Israeli military demolished around 1,700 homes in Rafah, leaving about 17,000 people homeless, according to the Israeli human rights organisation B’Tselem.
Corrie was one of a group of around eight international activists acting as human shields against the demolitions. According to witness statements made at the time and evidence given in court, she clambered on top of a mound of earth in the path of an advancing Caterpillar bulldozer.
“She was standing on top of a pile of earth,” fellow activist and eyewitness Richard Purssell, from Brighton, said at the time. “The driver cannot have failed to see her. As the blade pushed the pile, the earth rose up. Rachel slid down the pile. It looks as if her foot got caught. The driver didn’t slow down; he just ran over her. Then he reversed the bulldozer back over her again.”

Harriet Sherwood: Rachel Corrie lawsuit result ‘dangerous precedent’ say human rights groups (Guardian)

Concern ruling will allow Israel to exploit ‘legal black hole’ and avoid responsibility for its actions. Human rights organisations have warned of a “dangerous precedent” following an Israeli court’s dismissal of a civil lawsuit over the death of US activist Rachel Corrie, which stated that Israel could not be held responsible because its army was engaged in a combat operation. …
Human Rights Watch said the ruling contravened international law, which is intended to protect non-combatants in war zones, and set “a dangerous precedent”. “The idea that there can be no fault for killing civilians in a combat operation flatly contradicts Israel’s international legal obligations to spare civilians from harm during armed conflict and to credibly investigate and punish violations by its forces,” said Bill van Esveld, a senior Middle East researcher at HRW.

Zvi Bar’el: A good Jew hates Arabs / יהודי טוב שונא ערבים (Haaretz)

Hatred of Arabs is part of the test of loyalty and identity that the state gives its Jewish citizens. A good Jew hates Arabs. A loyal Israeli will leave an Arab to die, because “he’s an Arab.” And someone who isn’t like that, as we know, “sleeps with Arabs.”
שנאת ערבים היא חלק ממבחן הנאמנות לזהות שמעניקה המדינה לאזרחיה היהודים. יהודי טוב שונא ערבים. ישראלי נאמן יניח לערבי למות, כי “הוא ערבי”. מי שאיננו כזה הוא כידוע “מזדיין/ת עם ערבים”.

Yossi Sarid: A quiet lynch in Tel Aviv-Jaffa / הלינץ’ השקט בתל אביב-יפו (Haaretz)
Gideon Levy: Lieberman was right / ליברמן צדק (Haaretz)

To the long list of new heights of Israeli chutzpah, we can now add Lieberman’s scandalous letter, which urges the replacement of Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas. Even the most moderate Palestinian statesman ever – there never has been, and, more importantly, never will be one as moderate and committed to nonviolence as he – is no good for Lieberman’s Israel. To the megalomania of bombing Iran, in order to foment regime change, among other things, we can now add this megalomaniac idiocy, which is dwarfed only slightly by all its predecessors.
אל שיאי החוצפה הישראלית, רשימה ארוכה, עטורת שיאים, נוסף עכשיו מכתבו השערורייתי של ליברמן, הקורא להחליף את מחמוד עבאס. גם המדינאי הפלסטיני המתון ביותר בכל הזמנים – לא היה ובעיקר לא יהיה עוד מתון ודוגל באי-אלימות כמותו – גם הוא לא טוב לישראל של ליברמן. אל מגלומניית ההפצצה באיראן, בין היתר כדי להחליף את משטרה, נוסף עכשיו ההבל המגלומני הזה, מתגמד רק במעט לנוכח כל קודמיו. אחרי שישראל טענה במשך שנים שיאסר ערפאת הוא הוא המכשול, אחרי שחמאס עלה וגם הוא היה למכשול, החליט שר החוץ להוסיף גם את עבאס לרשימת פסולי השלום שלו. אחרי שישראל טענה במשך שנים שרק, רק, אם הפלסטינים יפסיקו את הטרור יהיה שלום, והפלסטינים הפסיקו את הטרור – וכלום. אפילו לא הקפאת ההתנחלויות. כלום.

Ewen MacAskill: Democratic convention erupts over reinstatement of Jerusalem to policy (Guardian)

Glenn Greenwald: CNN and the business of state-sponsored TV news (Guardian)

Friederike Beck: Avaaz.org und der geheime Informationskrieg um Syrien (Zeitgeist)

Syria | Egypt | Greece | Quebec | Israel/Palestine | Iran

Conal Urquhart: Syria clashes kill at least 17 in Deraa, reports say (Guardian)

After the observers’ visit, UN spokeswoman Sausan Ghosheh … said residents’ accounts of the mass killing were “conflicting,” and that the team was still cross checking the names of the missing and dead with those supplied by nearby villagers. Opposition activists and Syrian government officials blamed each other for the killings. … The Channel 4 journalist Alex Thompson claimed on Friday that the FSA tried to get him and his colleagues killed by deliberately directing them into government firing lines. He believed that the rebels considered a dead western journalist would strengthen their cause and look very bad for the Assad regime.

Henry Meyer: Russia, China Get Syrian Request to Investigate Houla Massacre (Bloomberg)
DAPD: Rebellen locken Journalisten in Falle (Handelsblatt)

Gut und Böse lässt sich in Syrien kaum auseinanderdividieren. Nun wirft ein britischer Journalist den Rebellen vor, ihn in einen Hinterhalt gelockt zu haben. Er vermutet dahinter eine tödliche PR-Falle.

Rainer Herrmann: Neue Erkenntnisse zu Getöteten von Hula. Abermals Massaker in Syrien (FAZ)

Nach Angaben der Augenzeugen habe sich das Massaker in dieser Zeit ereignet. Getötet worden seien nahezu ausschließlich Familien der alawitischen und schiitischen Minderheit Hulas, dessen Bevölkerung zu mehr als neunzig Prozent Sunniten sind. So wurden mehrere Dutzend Mitglieder einer Familie abgeschlachtet, die in den vergangenen Jahren vom sunnitischen zum schiitischen Islam übergetreten sei. Getötet wurden ferner Mitglieder der alawitischen Familie Shomaliya und die Familie eines sunnitischen Parlamentsabgeordneten, weil dieser als Kollaborateur galt. Unmittelbar nach dem Massaker hätten die Täter ihre Opfer gefilmt, sie als sunnitische Opfer ausgegeben und die Videos über Internet verbreitet.

Jochen Bittner: Wie riskant wäre eine Intervention in Syrien? (Zeit)
Karl Sharro: Hollow Responses to Houla Massacre (al-Akhbar)

By letting the Shabiha loose, the Syrian regime has created the conditions for atrocities, especially in mixed areas, and it was only a matter of time that sectarian massacres reminiscent of the Lebanese Civil War would happen. The creation of this militia was one of the early decisions that enhanced the sectarian dynamics of the conflict. The regime relinquished any claim to representing state authority and ultimately acted in a way that would undermine its overall control. …
The response of the opposition leadership to the Houla massacre was also far from coherent. The Syrian National Council (SNC) fell back onto its demands for international intervention, despite the fact that such intervention seems to be unlikely for now and that these requests have alienated many Syrians that do not support attacks on their country. …
The presence of the Free Syrian Army (FSA) as a separate entity from the SNC and other opposition groups is itself revealing of a fundamental flaw within the anti-regime forces. An autonomous armed group devoid of clear political leadership not only suffers from the inability to formulate clear strategy and tactics, it also increases the risk of undisciplined outbreaks of violence that are very damaging.

As’ad AbuKhalil: Some Questions on the Houla Massacre…and Beyond (al-Akhbar)

Wilhelm Langthaler: Egypt poised for Tahrir III (Anti-Imperialist Camp)

Pro-revolution forces nearly scored half of the votes but were cut out from the presidential run-off.

Vijay Prashad: Convulsions in Libya (CounterPunch)

Slavoj Žižek: Save us from the saviours. Europe and the Greeks (London Review of Books)

There are two main stories about the Greek crisis in the media: the German-European story (the Greeks are irresponsible, lazy, free-spending, tax-dodging etc, and have to be brought under control and taught financial discipline) and the Greek story (our national sovereignty is threatened by the neoliberal technocracy imposed by Brussels). When it became impossible to ignore the plight of the Greek people, a third story emerged: the Greeks are now presented as humanitarian victims in need of help, as if a war or natural catastrophe had hit the country. While all three stories are false, the third is arguably the most disgusting. The Greeks are not passive victims: they are at war with the European economic establishment, and what they need is solidarity in their struggle, because it is our struggle too.

Costas Lapavitsas: Default and exit from the eurozone? Greece could begin again (Monde diplomatique)

Greece is heading for an exit from the euro, and the rest of the eurozone periphery may follow, precipitating a huge change in the EU. After the crisis, Greece could slowly recover.

Sophia Ignatidou: Golden Dawn MP’s live TV assault shocks Greece (Guardian)
Griechenland: Das Versuchskaninchen übernimmt das Labor (DKP)

Serge Halimi: Radical Solutions (Monde diplomatique)

Last month’s student protests in Quebec have made it clear, yet again, that austerity policies cannot be imposed except by authoritarian methods. More than a third of the students in the province struck after Jean Charest’s liberal (centrist) government decided to increase student fees by 75% in five years; the National Assembly of Quebec, in a special session on 18 May, curtailed the rights of free association and demonstration. Thus, cutting off a democratic achievement (access to higher education) was logically followed by the suspension of a fundamental freedom.

Ismail Haniyeh: We Palestinians are reclaiming our destiny (Guardian)

We as a people want to live in our homeland, the land of our ancestors, in freedom, dignity and democracy, and with a just peace that restores our rights. We do not want to attack anyone and do not accept anyone attacking us. As we have said on more than one occasion, the key to security is the end of occupation.

Tariq Ali, Collin Harris: The Obama Syndrome (CounterPunch)
Aaron David Miller: Barack O’Romney (Foreign Policy)

Ignore what the candidates say they’ll do differently on foreign policy. They’re basically the same man.

Two book reviews:
Owen Bennett-Jones: Terrorists? Us? (London Review of Books)

Formed in the 1960s as an anti-imperialist, Islamist organisation with socialist leanings, dedicated to the overthrow of the shah, the [Mujahedin e Khalq (MEK)] originally stood not only for Islamic revolution but also for such causes as women’s rights … Since the 1970s, the MEK’s rhetoric has changed from Islamist to secular, from socialist to capitalist, from pro-revolution to anti-revolution. And since Saddam’s fall it has portrayed itself as pro-American, peaceful and dedicated to democracy and human rights. … Three dozen former high-ranking American officials regularly speak at MEK-friendly events. They include Rudy Giuliani, Howard Dean, Obama’s former national security adviser General James Jones and the former congressman Lee Hamilton.

Ludwig Watzal: Norman G. Finkelstein: Knowing too much (Between the Lines)

AFP: Israel to lock thousands of Africans in detention camp (al-Akhbar)

Israel’s interior minister said on Friday he hoped to soon start moving tens of thousands of illegal African migrants from Tel Aviv and elsewhere to a detention camp being built, one of the largest in the world.

Assange | Spain | Syria | Greece | Canada | Korea | Israel

Phillip Adams, John Pilger: Extradition of Julian Assange (ABC)
Phillip Adams, Paul Preston: The Spanish Holocaust (ABC)

Syed Ali Wasef: ‘NATO behind Houla massacre’ (PressTV)

Mick Brooks: ‘Payback time’: Lagarde’s Myths (karlmarx.net)

Greece is a country divided, like Britain, the USA and France, along class lines. When asked about the cuts in public services that the IMF insists on imposing, [Lagarde] blames the Greek people, declaring repeatedly, “They should also help themselves, by all paying their tax.” Is that it? Is the problem just that all Greeks are tax dodgers?
Workers employed in a public or private sector workplace in Greece pay income tax automatically, just like British, American or French workers. They have no choice. It is deducted at source. When they buy goods in a shop, they pay the Value Added Tax (VAT). How can they not pay?
Greek millionaires do not pay tax. Instead they employ expensive accountants to dodge their obligations. This is very expensive for the Greek state. Because the rich don’t pay their share it also means that the resulting restricted budget spending imposes hardships upon poor Greeks, who are at the sharp end of cuts in public services.
This tax dodging by the rich is not a Greek characteristic. It is a characteristic of the rich and of big business.

Spain must avoid an Irish turn (Financial Times)

Martin Lukacs: Quebec’s ‘truncheon law’ rebounds as student strike spreads (Guardian)

Any group of 50 or more protesters must submit plans to police eight hours ahead of time; they can be denied the right to proceed. Picket lines at universities and colleges are forbidden, and illegal protests are punishable by fines from $5,000 to $125,000 for individuals and unions – as well as by the seizure of union dues and the dissolution of their associations.

Gabriel Nadeau-Dubois, Anna Kruzynski, Amy Goodman, Aaron Maté: Maple Spring: Nearly 1,000 Arrested as Mass Quebec Student Strike Passes 100th Day (Democracy Now)

Gavan McCormack: North Korea’s 100th – Celebrations Gone Awry (Japan Focus)
Gavan McCormack: North Korea’s 100th – To Celebrate or To Surrender? (Japan Focus) / 北朝鮮衛星発射にあたり、ガバン・マコーマック論考-朝鮮半島の問題を歴史的にとらえる必要性 (Peace Philosophy Center)
Rüdiger Frank: North Korea after Kim Jong Il: The Kim Jong Un era and its challenges (Japan Focus)

David Sheen: Proto-Pogrom Against Africans in Israel (storify.com)
Gideon Levy: Israel is the most naive and racist country in the West / סכנה יותר גדולה מהמהגרים (Haaretz)

Israel is both the most racist and most naive country in the West. Racist, because in no other country can politicians make remarks about migrants as they do here and still remain in office another day; naive, because only now has Israel discovered the problem that has been facing the “first world” for years.
ישראל היא המדינה הגזענית והתמימה ביותר במערב. גזענית כי בשום מדינה אחרת פוליטיקאים אינם יכולים להתבטא כך על מהגרים ולהמשיך עוד יום אחד בתפקידם; תמימה כי רק עכשיו היא מגלה את הבעיה העומדת זה שנים לפתחו של העולם הראשון.

USA/Canada | Greece | Libya | Syria | Egypt | Iran | Palestine

Adam Gabbatt: Thousands attend protests in Oakland (Guardian)
Dennis Bernstein: What the Cops Really Did in Oakland (CounterPunch)
Steve Stallone: Scenes From Oakland’s General Strike (CounterPunch)
Nikolas Kozloff: From Radical Past to Radical Present: Oakland’s General Strike (CounterPunch)
Vijay Prashad: Reform, My Ass: Mind the Gap (CounterPunch)

Between the sentiment at the Occupy encampments and the liberal wing of the Democratic establishment lies a moat unbridgeable even by the tallest trees. Between Occupy and the Republicans lies a universe.
What seems reasonable to the Democratic leadership in Washington and to their far-flung minions in the districts is a tepid negotiation with finance capital. The corridors of the White House might as well be renamed Wall Street: apart from the Banks’ errand-boy Treasury Secretary Timothy Geithner, there is the Chief of Staff, Bill Daley (previously on J. P. Morgan Chase’s Executive Committee where he was in charge of Corporate Responsibility) and there is newly hired Senior Campaign Advisor Broderick Johnson (recently lobbyist for Bank of America, Fannie Mae, J. P. Morgan Chase, and Keystone XL). These are the scum of Wall Street and Washington, emblems of the pay-to-play system and of Financial Power. To them, the Occupy movement is an irritant, and a potential liability come election time. (…)
The debate around demands bewilders. As Ruth Jennison and Jordana Rosenberg put it at Lenin’s Tomb, “What, after all, is a demand? That we liberate New York, or Oakland, or Cleveland from the grips of financiers? That we must have returned what was stolen from us and given to the banks and to the 1%? That we deserve to live a life free of police repression and violence? That we want an end to imperialist projects and wars, and the restoration of social services and education? If any of our hesitation to demand comes from a fear of losing, let’s look around us and see how strong we are. For the first time in a lifetime.” After the remarkable General Strike in Oakland, that strength is now before us. It is true that struggles like these do not follow a text-book, and that it is in the fight that we learn how to fight, as Rosa Luxemburg put it a century ago. And it is also the true that in the heat of these struggles, slogans emerge that germinate programs and agendas. It is time for us to agglomerate these and throw them in the face of Order.

David Harvey: The Party of Wall Street Meets its Nemesis (Verso)

The Party of Wall Street has ruled unchallenged in the United States for far too long. It has totally (as opposed to partially) dominated the policies of Presidents over at least four decades (if not longer), no matter whether individual Presidents have been its willing agents or not. It has legally corrupted Congress via the craven dependency of politicians in both parties upon its raw money power and access to the mainstream media that it controls. Thanks to the appointments made and approved by Presidents and Congress, the Party of Wall Street dominates much of the state apparatus as well as the judiciary, in particular the Supreme Court, whose partisan judgments increasingly favor venal money interests, in spheres as diverse as electoral, labor, environmental and contract law. (…)
Americans believe in equality. Polling data show they believe (no matter what their general political allegiances might be) that the top twenty percent of the population might be justified in claiming thirty percent of the total wealth. That the top twenty percent now control 85 percent of the wealth is unacceptable. That most of that is controlled by the top one percent is totally unacceptable. What the Occupy Wall Street movement proposes is that we, the people of the United States, commit to a reversal of that level of inequality, not only of wealth and income, but even more importantly of the political power that such a disparity confers. The people of the United States are rightly proud of the their democracy, but it has always been endangered by capital’s corruptive power. Now that it is dominated by that power, the time is surely nigh, as Jefferson long ago suggested would be necessary, to make another American revolution: one based on social justice, equality and a caring and thoughtful approach to the relation to nature.

Sean Antrim: The October Revolution (Mainlander / rabble.ca)
Paul Weinberg: The Face of Imperialism: An interview with Michael Parenti (rabble.ca)

Paul Craig Roberts: A Farce and a Sham: On Western Democracy (CounterPunch)

Aijaz Ahmad: Libya recolonised (Frontline)

No credible evidence has ever emerged to support Obama’s claim that a massacre (of up to 100,000) was imminent in Benghazi, and no massacres ensued in the rebellious cities and towns that Qaddafi’s troops did occupy in the earlier stages of the fighting. On the contrary, there is incontrovertible evidence of massacres at the hands of NATO’s mercenaries. Neighbouring countries, such as Niger, Mali and Chad, have reported the eviction of some three lakh* black African residents from Libya as NATO’s local allies and clients rolled on towards Tripoli under the devastating shield of NATO’s own 40,000-plus bombings over large parts of Libya. Together with these mass evictions of workers and refugees from neighbouring countries – whom the Qaddafi regime had welcomed to make up for labour shortages in an expanding economy – there are also credible reports of lynchings and massacres of black Libyans themselves. The scale of these depredations is yet undetermined but it is already clear that upwards of 50,000 have died as a result of the war unleashed by NATO with the collusion of the Security Council, and half a million or more have been rendered homeless, mostly at the hands of NATO-armed “rebels” who have now been appointed as the new government of the country. Neither the Security Council nor NATO commanders nor, indeed, President Obama – the first black President in the history of the U.S. and himself the son of a Kenyan father – has seen it fit to take up the “responsibility to protect” these hapless people, most of them black Africans, even though several heads of African states have protested, including the very pro-U.S. President of Nigeria.

* one lakh (lākh लाख) = 100,000
Vijay Prashad: Ruthless theatre (Frontline)

With the fall of Tripoli and the execution of Qaddafi at a small cost to the NATO states themselves, new armed adventures have commenced across Africa: more drone attacks in Somalia, U.S. special forces in Uganda, and a green light to the Kenyan armed forces to enter Somalia. The A.U. remains prone. It is likely that given a reasonable interval, the U.S. will ask the new Libyan authorities for access to land to build a base and bring the U.S. Africa Command (AFRICOM) to the continent (it is currently based in Stuttgart, Germany, since no African country has welcomed it). These developments are buoyed on the back of the Libyan model of intervention – minimal, but deadly NATO and U.S. armed attacks, with proxy forces given licence to act as they wish.

Franklin Lamb: Libya’s Liberation Front Organizing in the Sahel (CounterPunch)

John Cherian: Next, Syria (Frontline)

Jack Shenker: Egyptian activist Alaa Abd El Fattah accuses army of hijacking revolution (Guardian)
Call-Out for Solidarity with Egypt: Defend the Revolution (MRzine)
Eric Walberg: Topple Their Debts: Egypt and the IMF (CounterPunch)

Mark Weisbrot: Obama prepara guerra com Irã (Folha de São Paulo / CEPR) / Obama Administration Escalates Confrontation With Iran: Why? (Center for Economic and Policy Research)
Ewen MacAskill, Harriet Sherwood: Is the US heading for war with Iran? (Guardian)
Nick Hopkins: UK military steps up plans for Iran attack amid fresh nuclear fears (Guardian)

Robert Fantina: A Tale of Three Countries: The US, UNESCO and Palestine (CounterPunch)

It is telling that, despite the warning in advance of the vote that the U.S., which provides 22% of Unesco funding, would withdraw all funding, 107 member nations voted to accept Palestine (14 opposed and 52 abstained). Despite clear international consensus, the U.S. and 13 other nations, including, of course, Israel, attempt to buck the trend.

Medea Benjamin, Robert Naiman: Challenging the Blockade: Jailed for Sailing to Gaza (CounterPunch)

Binoy Kampmark: The Next Phase: Extraditing Assange (CounterPunch)

Libya | Syria | Canada | Fukushima

Making Sense of Libya (PDF; International Crisis Group)
Patrick Cockburn: Amnesty Questions Claim That Gaddafi Ordered Rape as Weapon of War (Counterpunch)
Remember—John Sexton: International Colonial Court (China.org.cn)
Jonathan Schell: Attacking Libya—and the dictionary (Asia Times)
Murray Dobbin: Libya: The latest product in Canada’s ugly war assembly line (Rabble)
The true face of ‘humanitarian intervention’ in Libya (Proletarian)

Defend Syria against imperialist aggression (Proletarian)

Peter Wallsten: Activists cry foul over FBI probe (Washington Post)
Shannon Thunderbird: A holocaust for First Nations (Star)

Dahr Jamail: Fukushima: It’s much worse than you think (Aljazeera)

Syria | Egypt | Obama tales | Canada | Žižek

Michel Chossudovsky: Syria: Who is Behind The Protest Movement? Fabricating a Pretext for a US-NATO “Humanitarian Intervention” (Global Research)
Elias Muhanna: Talking about a Revolution: An Interview with Camille Otrakji (Qifa Nabki)
Plankó Gergő: A legdurvább bajuszt is nyaldossa a forradalmi hullám (Index)

Finally, mainstream media have begun to report on a significant shift in Egyptian foreign policy:
Jim Lobe: Egypt’s new diplomacy worries Washington (Aljazeera)

Gordon Rayner, Steven Swinford, Martin Evans: Osama bin Laden: day two and a new version of how events unfolded (Telegraph)

The White House came under increasing pressure yesterday to release video footage of the raid on Osama bin Laden’s compound after the official version of events began to fall apart.

Robert Booth, Saeed Shah, Jason Burke: Osama bin Laden death: How family scene in compound turned to carnage (Guardian)

The scene after Bin Laden’s death emerged amid graphic new details about Monday’s raid, which now seems to be far more one-sided than US officials previously claimed. On Thursday it emerged that far from there being a sustained “firefight” in the compound, as senior White House officials had said, the Navy Seals drew fire from only one al-Qaida gunman and quickly killed him. Thereafter their progress to their target was largely unopposed. … The soldiers left four dead bodies, survivors bound with plastic ties and women and children injured.

Ed Pilkington: Bradley Manning’s jail conditions improve dramatically
after protest campaign
(Guardian)

The Conservative Majority and the Left—A Few Notes to Begin the
Discussion
(New Socialist)

The Conservatives won a majority of seats not because they convinced a much larger number of people to support them, but because of how a small increase in support was translated through the peculiarities of the “first-past-the-post” version of capitalist democracy. The Tories won 37.7% of the popular vote in 2008 and 40% in 2011. There hasn’t been a major swing to the right in the population, only in the way seats are distributed in the House of Commons.

The record-high 31% vote for the NDP (up from 17.5% in 2008) represents a major change in the voting choices among the very large numbers of people who support minor social reforms and defence of existing social programs within the framework of the neoliberal consensus that defines official politics (whose touchstone is “fiscal responsibility” and deficit elimination), above all in Quebec. It means something that so many people voted for the party seen as most on the left. But the NDP ran on its most moderate platform ever, with the goal of replacing the Liberals as the party perceived as the main and 100% respectable alternative to the Tories in administering Canadian capitalism—not as a party that stands for a social democratic alternative to the business parties.

Duncan Cameron: After the election: Time for democratic action (rabble.ca)
Judy Rebick: The morning after: Where are we and where do we go from here? (Transforming Power)

Everyone in English Canada talks about a split between the NDP and the Liberals but the NDP and the Bloc are much closer politically. A major weakness of the social democratic left in Canada is its fierce identification with the federalist cause against the self-determination of Quebec …

On the other hand, having an NDP caucus that is half Quebecois can bring together the concerns of progressive in Quebec and English Canada. That can only be a good thing. However, today on Democracy Now, Stephen Lewis declared the NDP victory in Quebec a blow to “separatism,” which is exactly the wrong way to see it. What it seems to be is a desire of the people of Quebec, including sovereigntists to stop a Harper majority, as well as a fatigue with the same old Bloc Quebecois and a genuine affection for Jack Layton. We should be thanking them.

If you can spare 40 minutes, watch and listen to this talk Slavoj Žižek gave on July 2nd, 2009 at a conference on Marxism in Bloomsbury about what it means to be a revolutionary today. This is an interesting question and this talk could be the starting point for a discussion. The page is in German, but the talk (the video) is in English.
Slavoj Žižek: Was bedeutet es heute, ein Revolutionär zu sein? (Weltnetz.tv)

Chomsky | Australia | Hiroshima | Afghanistan | China and Africa

Rob sent these links to videos of Chomsky’s talk at Peking University:
乔姆斯基教授北大百年讲堂讲演 – intro, main talk, Q&A (Youku)

张传文: 当乔姆斯基遭遇中国 (南方都市报)
Excerpts in English can be found here:
Andy Yee: Noam Chomsky in China (Global Voices)

K. wrote: Oz is a colonial backwater like Canada…I remember when the CIA got rid of Whitlam i believe…Billiton (aka Broken Hill) is the largest mining corp in the world about to take over potashcorp, world’s largest potash producer and the second and third largest producer of nitrogen and phosphate.
Rachel Pannett: Shadow of Ouster Hangs Over Australian Vote (Wall Street Journal)

K. also sent these two links:
Ameen Izzadeen: Hiroshima: the humbug and the hypocrisy (Daily Mirror)
Tim Kennelly: Afghanistan Crisis Deepens: US, Canada and NATO Threaten to Extend War (The Bullet)
K.’s comment: Bob [Rae]’s brother is the main man for the head of the biggest corporation in Canada (Power Corp) which is a front for Rockefeller’s SO. All if not 99.9% of Canadan prime ministers have bin former employees of Power Corp.

Deborah Brautigam: Is China Sending Prisoners to Work Overseas? (China in Africa: The Real Story)
Barry Sautman, Yan Hairong: Stirring up trouble: Claims that China sends convicts to labour in Africa are unfounded (China in Africa: The Real Story)