USA | Refugees | Iraq | Syria | Japan | Israel

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

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

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

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

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

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

Dakota Acces Pipeline (Democracy Now)

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

John Pilger: Provoking Nuclear War by Media (CounterPunch)

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

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

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

Brazil | Austria | Greece | Myanmar | Poland | Israel

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Greece | Palestine | Israel

Ambrose Evans-Pritchard: Greek debt crisis is the Iraq War of finance (Telegraph)

Rarely in modern times have we witnessed such a display of petulance and bad judgment by those supposed to be in charge of global financial stability, and by those who set the tone for the Western world.
The spectacle is astonishing. The European Central Bank, the EMU bail-out fund, and the International Monetary Fund, among others, are lashing out in fury against an elected government that refuses to do what it is told. They entirely duck their own responsibility for five years of policy blunders that have led to this impasse.

Zoe Williams: The moral crusade against Greece must be opposed (Guardian)

‘This is our political alternative to neoliberalism and to the neoliberal process of European integration: democracy, more democracy and even deeper democracy,” said Alexis Tsipras on 18 January 2014 in a debate organised by the Dutch Socialist party in Amersfoort. Now the moment of deepest democracy looms, as the Greek people go to the polls on Sunday to vote for or against the next round of austerity.
Unfortunately, Sunday’s choice will be between endless austerity and immediate chaos…
The measures enforced by the troika have created an economic contraction akin to that caused by war. With unemployment at 25% and youth unemployment at nearly half, 40% of children now live below the poverty line. The latest offer to Greece promises more of the same. The idea that any of this is oriented towards growth is demonstrably false.

Jürgen Habermas: Warum Merkels Griechenland-Politik ein Fehler ist (Süddeutsche Zeitung)

Noam Rotem: 12 Palestinian members of parliament are in Israeli prison (+972)

While we often hear Palestinian prisoners in the news, little is said about the lawmakers currently sitting in Israeli prisons. Many of them have spent years in jail, often as political prisoners in administrative detention, suffering beatings, interrogations and imprisonment in difficult conditions. Yet many of them still see a chance of living side-by-side with Israel, whether in one or two states.

The most racist Knesset in Israel’s history (Haaretz)

The current Knesset appears to be the most racist in the history of the legislature. It is also the most boorish and mediocre. Scandal follows scandal, MKs vie with each other to see who will lead the assembly to its nadir. Wednesday’s pick was the new deputy interior minister, MK Yaron Mazuz (Likud,) who told his Arab colleagues “we’re doing you a favor that you’re sitting here,” and called on them to return their identity cards [i.e. renounce their Israeli citizenship].

Jonathan Lis: Israel advances ‘softer’ force-feeding bill aimed at hunger-striking Palestinian prisoners (Haaretz, also via Google News)

Country’s doctors slam proposal, with leading medical ethics expert calling it ‘insane.’ …
The Tokyo Declaration forbids physicians from participating in torture and force-feeding. The Malta Declaration, which was updated recently, says that force-feeding is a form of torture.
“The Knesset has passed a law preventing cruelty to animals and a law that forbids the force-feeding of geese, but there is no law against cruelty to human beings,” [said Prof. Avinoam Reches, a former chairman of the Israeli Medical Association’s Ethics Bureau]. “What does it mean to feed a person against his will? It means to cuff his hands and feet, and insert a tube that is liable to tear his esophagus. Inserting a feeding tube three times a day over a period of incarceration is impossible to do … Our experience is that trying to force-feed someone leads to his death. The only hunger-striking prisoners who have died in Israel are those that the state fed by force.”

Michael Schaeffer Omer-Man: Israel seeks force feeding powers as hunger striker enters danger zone (+972)

The head of the Israeli Medical Association says he will instruct physicians to ignore the new law if it is passed, saying it contradicts medical ethics. Israeli authorities are currently holding some 400 Palestinians without

charge or trial.

Gideon Levy: Another futile report on Israel’s wild adventure in Gaza (Haaretz, also via Google News)

If in the wake of the latest UN commission, the international community does not take practical steps against war criminals, then there is no further reason for commissions.

David Rosenberg: The Chinese aren’t coming – get real, they’re here (Haaretz, also via Google News)

In just the last two months, Israel’s biggest food company, Tnuva, was formally turned over to the Chinese company Bright Food. Our fourth-largest insurer, Phoenix, is about to be acquired by China’s Fosun Group, and there are good odds that the No. 2 insurer, Clal Insurance, will end up in Chinese hands later this year, since three out of the seven bidders are Chinese or Hong Kong companies. And just last week, med-tech company Lumenis was bought by Hong Kong’s XIO Group…
Since it abandoned Maoist economics more than three decades ago, China has been the recipient of foreign investment. But the last decade, as the Chinese economy has grown and become more sophisticated, the flow has begun to reverse.
By last year, Chinese companies were investing almost as much abroad as foreigners were investing in China. Chinese companies have been buying iconic companies in Europe, like Volvo and Pirelli; real estate in America, like the Waldorf Astoria Hotel; and mines in Africa and Latin America.
Though many would like to think that China’s commercial interest in Israel is something special — part of a budding special relationship that some of the dreamiest Israelis fantasize will supplant American and Europe — we’re just a teaspoon in the flood of Chinese overseas investment…
Take the Haifa port contract. “It’s winning is an expression of confidence in the State of Israel by a superpower, which has decided to invest billions of shekels in Israel and turn it into an international cargo center for all the world,” Transportation Minister Israel Katz crowed after Shanghai International Port won the tender.

BRICS

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Sri Lanka | France | Palestine/Israel

Deepal Jayasekera: The outcome of the Sri Lankan election and its international implications (World Socialist Web Site)

The outcome of the Sri Lankan election last Thursday, with Maithripala Sirisena ousting Mahinda Rajapakse as president, has ominous implications for the working class, not only in Sri Lanka and South Asia but throughout the world…
What has unfolded since Sirisena deserted Rajapakse’s government and was endorsed as the joint opposition candidate by the right-wing United National Party (UNP) and a range of other political tendencies is a US-sponsored regime-change operation. It was publicly orchestrated in large part by former President Chandrika Kumaratunga, who has close ties with the Obama administration and US foreign policy establishment through the Clinton Foundation.
Rajapakse’s crime from the standpoint of Washington was not the mass murder of Tamil civilians during the civil war against the Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam (LTTE), but the relations his government developed with China.

Dayan Jayatilleka: The fall of Mahinda and ‘The end of History’ (Island)

Having argued for years that (a) Sri Lanka under Mahinda Rajapaksa is no dictatorship but a unipolar democracy because of the meltdown of the centre-right UNP under its leader Ranil Wickremesinghe, and (b) that the Opposition should put forward a liberal nationalist instead, my perspective has been at least partly vindicated. Why then was Mr. Sirisena my second choice rather than my first – which remained President Rajapaksa? An obvious reason is the Ranil-Chandrika factor (or factors). The second was his program of fast-track radical political reform and its possible centrifugal consequences.

No, we are not defending Western civilization / Nein, wir verteidigen die westliche Zivilisation nicht (Anti-Imperialist Camp) / Hayır, Biz Batı Medeniyetini Savunmuyoruz! (Haksöz Haber)
David North: “Free Speech” hypocrisy in the aftermath of the attack on Charlie Hebdo / Le discours hypocrite de la «liberté d’expression» au lendemain de l’attaque contre Charlie Hebdo / Stimmungsmache im Namen der „Meinungsfreiheit“ nach Attentat auf Charlie Hebdo (World Socialist Web Site)
Robert Fisk: Charlie Hebdo: Paris attack brothers’ campaign of terror can be traced back to Algeria in 1954 (Independent)
Kabir Chibber: These are the biggest hypocrites celebrating free speech today in Paris (Quartz)
(Chibber forgets to mention Netanyahu and Liberman.)
Djamila Ould Khettab: Charlie Hebdo : Reporters sans frontières ironise sur la présence de l’Algérie à la marche républicaine (Algérie-focus)
Mark Tran: Presence at Paris rally of leaders with poor free press records is condemned (Guardian)
Slavoj Žižek: Are the worst really full of passionate intensity? (New Statesman)

Jack Khoury: Three dead in Gaza due to reezing temperatures, including two infants (Haaretz)

Delays in reconstruction leave tens of thousands of Palestinians without shelter in enclave devastated in summer war…
One of the infants, four-months-old girl Ghahef Abu Aasi, was living with her family in a building partly destroyed by Israeli bombings during the war. The child’s father said it was impossible to heat the house. “Suddenly she turned blue and stopped breathing, and we were helpless,” the father said.
The family of the other infant, one-month-old boy Aadel Lakham, has been residing in a caravan since their home was bombed during the war. The family had no way to ward off the cold, and the child stopped breathing and died…
About 100,000 buildings or structures were damaged in the 50-day-long war between Israel and the Palestinian factions of the Gaza Strip last summer. The UN says this includes over 18,000 housing units that were entirely destroyed.

Mor Efrat: Divide & Conquer: Inequality in Health (PDF; Physicians for Human Rights, Israel)

The “Divide and Conquer” report analyzes the gaps between health indicators and social determinants of health in Israel and the Occupied Territories and demands health service equality between Israelis and Palestinians in light of Israel’s control of these factors.

New Physicians for Human Rights Report – “Divide & Conquer: Inequality in Health” (Communist Party of Israel)

[T]he average life expectancy for Palestinians is about 10 years less than for Israelis; … infant mortality is five times higher in the O[ccupied] P[alestinian] T[erritories] than in Israel (…); and … maternal mortality is four times higher in the Occupied Territories than in Israel … [T]he national expenditure on health care per person in the OPT is about one eighth of that in Israel…
The report also reviews the Israeli mechanisms of control which prevent the Palestinian Ministry of Health – which has its own faults – from providing full health services to the residents of the Occupied Territories, to the detriment of the latter’s health. One such mechanism of control is the limitations Israel imposes on the freedom of movement of patients, medical staff, and medications. Another is control of the Palestinian budget, including the health budget, through Israel’s control of the customs and Value Added Tax revenue for goods entering the Occupied Territories. Israel often makes use of this control level, and denies the transfer of these funds to the Palestinian Authority as a punitive measure. By doing so, Israel interferes with the financing of the Palestinian healthcare system and condemns it to exist in a state of uncertainty.
The Palestinian health system is in a state of chronic crisis, one which does not allow it to provide an appropriate response to the needs of the population.

Ido Efrati: Huge disparities between Israeli, Palestinian health-care systems, says rights group (Haaretz)

New report finds that government expenditure per person is nearly 10 times higher in Israel than in territories.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Brazil | Guantánamo | Edward Snowden

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Philippines | Venezuela | Iran | Korea | Spain | France/Algeria | Chomsky in Gaza | Palestine/Israel | Finkelstein

Richard Javad Heydarian: US ‘pivots’ on the Philippines (Asia Times)

Gabriel Hetland: Why Chavez Won (CounterPunch)

On October 7th, Venezuelans voted to give Hugo Chavez a fourth term as president. With a historic turnout of over 80% of the electorate (a remarkable figure in a country where voting is not mandatory), Chavez handily defeated opposition candidate Henrique Capriles Radonski by an eleven-point margin: 55.14% to 44.24%.i In seeking to account for why this has occurred, mainstream media have studiously avoided the most straightforward explanation: a majority of Venezuelans support Chavez and the policies his administration has implemented over the last fourteen years.

Vijay Prashad: Bomb, Bomb, Bomb Iran (CounterPunch)

What was Netanyahu’s case against Iran? That Iran is close to having a nuclear bomb. This is an old saw from Bibi. In 1992, as a Member of the Knesset, Netanyahu predicted that Iran was “three to five years” from a nuclear weapon. He was wrong in 1992, and he is wrong now. Take the case of the International Atomic Energy Agency’s (IAEA) recent reports on Iran. The Director General of the IAEA provided a report to the IAEA’s Board of Governors on August 30, 2012. If you are able to get through the bureaucratic and legalistic verbiage, you’ll get to the two important sentences: (1) that the IAEA is confident about “the absence of undeclared nuclear material and activities in Iran”; and (2) that the IAEA can “conclude that all nuclear materials in Iran is in peaceful activities.”

Markus Kompa: Iran könnte „in wenigen Monaten“ die Atombombe haben – seit 1979 (Telepolis)

Rüdiger Frank: An Atmosphere of Departure and Two Speeds, Korean Style: Where is North Korea Heading? (38north)

Juan Antonio Anunión: Wert quiere “españolizar” Cataluña (El país)

Reuters: François Hollande acknowledges 1961 massacre of Algerians in Paris (Guardian)

James Green: An Interview With Norman Finkelstein (CounterPunch)

Rami Almeghari: Chomsky in Gaza: academic boycott “will strengthen support for Israel” (Electronic Intifada)
Rana Baker: Reflections on Noam Chomsky’s visit to Gaza (Electronic Intifada)
Jonathan Cook: The full story behind the war against free speech in Israel’s universities (Electronic Intifada)
Harriet Sherwood: Israel’s cranes reprove Barack Obama’s failure to pursue two-state solution (Guardian)
Budour Youssef Hassan: Protests and strikes as Israel raids Bedouin villages, threatens to destroy homes (Electronic Intifada)
Yitzhak Laor: הווילה בג’ונגל / Wealth without borders (Haaretz) / Wealth without borders (via Google) / Wealth without borders (via DuckDuckGo)

The Israeli economy and all its elites were built up and exist via continuous “foreign aid.” Of the 46 donors to Benjamin Netanyahu before the Likud party primary, 37 were Americans. In these pages last week, Shlomo Avineri called on “organizations that fear for the fate of Israeli democracy, such as the Israel Democracy Institute,” to take up cudgels against this trend. (And where does the institute’s money come from?) …
But the outrage over the American donors derives from a hallucination: that our democratic institutions represent all citizens in exactly the same way the parliament in Stockholm represents the people ruled by the Swedish state. Alas, for 45 years, Israeli democracy has been ruling over an occupied population, which has no representation and is not entitled to determine any issue connected to its life.

Angela Davis: Jim Crow and the Palestinians (CounterPunch)
Oudeh Basharat: The original Morris (Haaretz) / The original Morris (via DuckDuckGo / Google News) / בני מוריס האמיתי (Haaretz)
Coby Ben-Simhon: Benny Morris on why he’s written his last word on the Israel-Arab conflict (Haaretz) / Benny Morris on why he’s written his last word on the Israel-Arab conflict (via Google News)

Sri Lanka / Ilankai | Islamophobia | Libya | Venezuela | BRICS | USA | Palestine/Israel

Dayapala Thiranagama: Solitude in Jaffna and the silence of a city (The Island)

Jeff Sparrow: Islamophobia, Left and Right (CounterPunch)

In 1857, Bengali soldiers (known as ‘sepoys’) shot their British officers and marched upon Delhi. The Great Indian Rebellion became very violent, very quickly. … Now, that rebellion began when the troops learned that their cartridges, designed to be torn open with their teeth, would be greased with beef and pork fat, an offence to the religious sensibilities of Hindus and Muslims alike. Had Twitter been an invention of the Victorian era, London sophisticates would, no doubt, have LOLed to each other (#sepoyrage!) about the credulity of dusky savages so worked up about a little beef tallow. Certainly, that was how the mouthpieces of the East India Company spun events … But no serious historian today takes such apologetics seriously. Only the most determined ignoramus would discuss 1857 in isolation from the broader context of British occupation. In form, the struggle might have been religious; in content, it embodied a long-simmering opposition to colonial rule.
That’s why those who pretend the protests against The Innocence of Muslims came from nowhere merely reveal their own foolishness.
‘Today, many Americans are asking — indeed, I asked myself — how could this happen?’ said Hillary Clinton after the riots in Libya. ‘How could this happen in a country we helped liberate, in a city we helped save from destruction? This question reflects just how complicated and, at times, how confounding the world can be.’
The echoes of George Bush’s infamous query ‘Why do they hate us when we’re so good?’ suggests nothing whatsoever has been learnt from the last decade and the hundreds of thousands of deaths in Iraq and Afghanistan and elsewhere.

Mel Frykberg: Human rights now worse in Libya than it was under Gaddafi (Stop the War Coalition)

Francisco Dominguez: Venezuelan Opposition Prepares for Non-Recognition of Chavez Victory (VenezuelAnalysis)
Steve Ellner: The Chavez Election (Monde diplomatique / VenezuelAnalysis) / Lehrstück Chávez (Monde diplomatique)

Heiko Khoo: The $10 million inequality question ‍(China.org.cn)

Christopher Alessi, Martin Wolf: Does the BRICS Group Matter? (Council on Foreign Relations)

Full Transcript of the Mitt Romney Secret Video (Mother Jones)
Vadim Nikitin: The Wrong Reasons to Back Pussy Riot (New York Times)

Akiva Eldar: Israel’s five ‘nos’ / חמשת הלאווים של ישראל (Haaretz)

How long can Israel be the only country in the Middle East that enjoys a full exemption from nuclear inspections because of a conflict it doesn’t show any interest in trying to resolve?
At the height of its preparations for the holidays, Israel opened the new year with a new “no.”
Until now, there were only four: no to withdrawal from the territories that we occupied in 1967; no to dividing Jerusalem; no to the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty; and no to the Arab Peace Initiative. Last Wednesday, Israel delivered another no – to the Helsinki conference on making the Middle East a nuclear-weapons-free zone, which was meant to take place late this year or in early 2013.

Chemi Shalev: Abbas adopts ‘Dershowitz Formula’ for resuming talks with Israel [full text via Peace Now list] [via Google] (Haaretz)

According to some participants, Abbas appeared despondent during parts of the meeting. He raised the issue of the Palestinian Authority’s financial difficulties, saying that perhaps the time has come to revoke the Oslo Accords, and for him to retire with his family in Ramallah. …
Abbas also said that by adopting the Arab Peace Initiative’s formulation for a “just and agreed” solution to the refugee problem, he and most West Bank Palestinians had implicitly accepted the fact that only a fraction of the Palestinian refugees would be allowed to return to Israel proper, and only if the Israeli government agreed to it. …
Wexler said that Abbas had reiterated his agreement to a non-militarized Palestinian state, a security regime based on the 2008 blueprint offered by U.S. General James Jones and the presence of a “third party force” that would implement security procedures.

Chaim Levinson: The settlers’ army [via Google] / הצבא של המתנחלים (Haaretz)

A settlement security officer is theoretically subject to the army’s commands, but since he gets his salary from the settlement and is usually a veteran resident of the settlement, in reality, he takes orders from the settlement’s leadership. And since these settlement officers are veterans who know the area well, they de facto turn into the bosses of the soldiers who rotate through the area.

South Africa | Philippines | USA | Syria | Palestine | Mali | Afghanistan | Wikileaks

Julie Hyland: South Africa: ANC orders security clampdown against miners’ revolt (WSWS)

More than 40,000 workers are now on strike, forcing three leading platinum and gold producers to halt their operations. …
The Marikana massacre was the worst act of police brutality since the days of apartheid. Some 270 miners arrested during the assault were then charged with complicity in the deaths of their 34 colleagues under the notorious apartheid-era “common purpose law”.
Although the charges have been dropped for now, the latest operation has underscored that the interests of the same multinational and South African firms that profited under apartheid remain intact. The Regulation of Gatherings Act now being enforced by the ANC was notoriously employed by the apartheid government. …
[T]he ANC and its partners in the NUM and the Congress of South African Trade Unions (COSATU) have as little legitimacy as the white minority regime the ANC replaced 18 years before.
Comprising a thin layer of wealthy and corrupt black officials, they have been the sole beneficiaries of the post-apartheid policy of “black economic empowerment”.

Richard Javad Heydarian: Philippines on frontline of US-China rivalry (Asia Times)

… Manila is turning back on almost two decades of relative strategic independence, beginning with the Philippine Senate’s refusal in 1991 to extend the US’s lease at Subic Bay naval base, a military presence nationalistic lawmakers then assailed as a vestige of colonialism and affront to national sovereignty.
Fast forward to the present, Manila is now actively, if not desperately, courting US military support vis-a-vis China.

Amy Goodman: “Effective Evil” or Progressives’ Best Hope? Glen Ford vs. Michael Eric Dyson on Obama Presidency (Democracy Now)

GLEN FORD: … [W]e at Black Agenda Report have for some time been saying that Obama is not the lesser of evils, but the more effective evil. And we base that on his record and also on his rhetoric at the convention. So, we would prefer to talk about what history-making events have gone down under his presidency.
He’s, first of all, created a model for austerity, a veritable model, with his deficit reduction commission. He’s introduced preventive detention, a law for preventive detention. He’s expanded the theaters of war in drone wars, and he’s made an unremitting assault on international law. And I think that possibly the biggest impact, his presidency—and I’m not talking about his—all this light and airy stuff from the convention, but actual deeds—I think probably what will go down as his biggest contribution to history is a kind of merging of the banks and the state, with $16 trillion being infused into these banks, into Wall Street, under his watch, and the line between Wall Street and the federal government virtually disappearing.

Alison Weir: The Democrats’ Jerusalem Arithmetic (CounterPunch)

Corey Oakley: The left, imperialism and the Syrian revolution (Socialist Alternative)
Antonin Amado, Marc de Miramon: Syria’s propaganda war / Syrie, champ de bataille médiatique ‍(Monde diplomatique)
Karin Leukefeld: Jetzt dominieren Last-Minute-Revolutionäre (Neues Deutschland)

Der syrische Oppositionelle Haytham Manna sieht ursprüngliche Ziele der Erhebung in Gefahr

Naima El Moussaoui: Abschied von einer Zwei-Staaten-Lösung (Qantara)

Sari Nusseibeh, prominenter palästinensischer Philosoph und Präsident der Al-Quds Universität in Jerusalem, hält eine Zwei-Staaten-Lösung nicht mehr für realistisch. In seinem neuen Buch “Ein Staat für Palästina?” favorisiert er stattdessen einen binationalen Staat oder eine Konföderation zweier Staaten.

Jacques Delcroze: The Malian model falls apart / Effondrement du rêve démocratique au Mali (Monde diplomatique)

Christian Parenti: Ideology and Electricity: The Soviet Experience in Afghanistan (Nation) / Wer war Nadschibullah? (Monde diplomatique)

Mark Weisbrot: Assange case: Sweden’s shame in violating human rights (AlJazeera)