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

Greenpeace Netherlands releases TTIP documents (Greenpeace)

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

TTIP: The terrible truth (Morning Star)

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Margaret Kimberley: Dishonoring Harriet Tubman (CounterPunch)

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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Refugees | Venezuela | Palestine/Israel | France

Vijay Prashad: Regime Change Refugees: On the Shores of Europe (CounterPunch) / Avrupa’nın kıyılarında (BirGün)

The West believes that it is acceptable for it to intervene to influence the political economy of the Third World – to force IMF-driven “reforms” on these states. Capital is allowed be borderless. That freedom does not apply to labour – to people. Migration is forbidden. It is hateful. Racist ideas allow fortresses to be built against the natural movement of people. Barbed wire fences and concentration camp towers outline the US-Mexico border, just as such fences and the Mediterranean Moat block the passage into Europe. If Capital destroys the society here, its people cannot be allowed to migrate there.
The West believes that it is acceptable for it to overthrow governments and bomb its enemies in the lands of the Third World. It sees this as the limit of its humanitarianism. It calls this humanitarian interventionism or, in the language of the UN, “responsibility to protect” (R2P). When it breaks states, as it did in Libya, the West takes no responsibility for the broken lives of the people in those zones. Bombs are borderless. But war refugees must stand in queues and be held in concentration camps. They are not allowed freedom of movement…
There is also the people’s ethics – banners in Germany unfurled at football games to welcome refugees, convoys of ordinary British nations to Calais (France) to help feed and clothe the refugees, demonstrations of radical internationalists in Eastern Europe against the neo-fascists and the racists. There are also, in the United States, the Dream Defenders and United We Dream who fight for undocumented residents, who formed part of the massive pro-immigrant rallies that have now adopted May Day as their day.

Dan Williams: Amid Migrant Crisis, Europeans Interested in Israeli Border Barriers (Haaretz)

Hungary, Bulgaria make inquiries to Israel about the design of its border barriers with Egypt.

Roberto Lovato: The Making of Leopoldo López (Foreign Policy)

A closer look at the democratic bona fides of the rock star of Venezuela’s opposition.

Roberto Lovato, Juan González, Amy Goodman: The Making of Leopoldo López: An Investigation into Venezuela’s Most Prominent Opposition Figure (Democracy Now)
Joe Emersberger: The Unmaking of Leopoldo Lopez (TeleSur)

A Foreign Policy article by Roberto Lovato represents a crack in a huge propaganda edifice.

Max Fisher: Is this disturbing video Israel’s Eric Garner moment? (Vox)

For a few years now, Palestinians in the West Bank village of Nabi Saleh have held a weekly demonstration to protest the Israeli occupation that has confiscated village land for a nearby Israeli settlement. These protests don’t usually make international news.
But last week’s was different. Friday’s demonstration in Nabi Saleh escalated into a violent confrontation between an Israeli soldier and a young child — all caught on camera by the press who had attended the protest. The result was a video of an IDF soldier placing an 11-year-old child in a chokehold, holding a gun near his head, and then sitting on him as he screamed in fear and pain.

Asher Schechter: Israel’s ‘Eric Garner Moment’ Entrenches Its Habit of Victim-blaming (Haaretz)

Even when arresting children, Israel insists it has the moral upper hand: In the Nabi Saleh incident, Israel’s ‘Eric Garner moment’ cast the soldier, not the kids, as the innocent victim…
Judging from the responses in Israeli media, politics and social networks, the true culprit in Nabi Saleh was not (as the brainwashed world media would have you believe) the soldier using excessive force against a 12 year-old with a broken arm. It was the boy himself (who may or may not have thrown rocks at the soldiers, depending on who you ask) and his slightly-older sister who, as right-wing bloggers were quick to point out, were known “troublemakers.” Meaning: they had attended other demonstrations in the past, and were therefore more enemy combatants than preteens.
Channel 2 News, Israel’s premier TV news broadcast, cast the event as “Palestinians documented beating IDF soldier in Nabi Saleh.” Ynet, Israel’s most popular news site, proclaimed in the headline, “Little girl bites soldier.” … Culture Minister Miri Regev suggested that in the future, soldiers should be “permitted to return fire” during similar events.

Amira Hass: Armed Robbery: The Israeli Army’s Policy in the West Bank (Haaretz; also via Google News)

The soldier who choked 12-year-old Mohammad Tamimi last week belongs to the organization that carries out and ensures the continued armed robbery of land in Nabi Saleh, employing various methods to terrorize the residents. He is not the first and not the last; the armed robbery is not conducted solely on the lands of this village, and the spring at Nabi Saleh is not the only one in the West Bank taken over by Jewish settlers.

Amy Goodman, Peter Willcox,: Rainbow Warrior: 30 Years Later, Will France Ever Apologize for Fatal Bombing of Greenpeace Ship? (Democracy Now)
Kim Willsher: French spy who sank Greenpeace ship apologises for lethal bombing (Guardian)

Binoy Kampmark: Sieges in an Age of Austerity: Monitoring Julian Assange (CounterPunch)

It is, we are told, an age of bitter austerity, where belts are being tightened with dedication, and services cut with thrifty diligence. There are, however, always exceptions to the rule. The surveillance state needs succour; the intelligence services need their daily bread from the bakers in Downing Street. The dogs of war similarly need to be fed. And then, there is Julian Assange.
Assange would be pleased to know that he is an exception to the rules of austerity. He figures in a singular category in the book keeping of Her Majesty’s Government. The British security establishment continue monitoring him with eagle-eyes. There are three Scotland Yard officers on the task at any one time. One is stationed at the steps to the Ecuadorean embassy, just to make sure no daredevilry is entertained. As they do so, the bill mounts.
The site govwaste.co.uk lists the costs in live time – as at this writing, the amount is 12,173,575 million pounds…
The site also lists what the equivalent amount might have funded: 60,868 vaccinations for children; 47,740 hospital beds for one night; the salaries for 558 teachers for a full year. As for food, the figure comes to over 10 million meals for the needy. If one is to lose a sense of priorities, join government.

Korea | Thailand | Greece | Thailand | Israel/Palestine

North and South Korea trade fire across border, says Seoul (Asia Times)

South Korea fired tens of artillery rounds towards North Korea Thursday after the North fired a suspected projectile towards a South Korean loudspeaker that had been blaring anti-Pyongyang broadcasts, South Korea’s defense ministry said, agencies report.

Pepe Escobar: Bangkok bombing — beyond the usual suspects (Asia Times)

Consider three facts.
Fact 1: weeks before the bombing, the media rhetoric of the usual corporate suspects against the Thai military was ratcheted up — from “slap on the wrist” mode to full demonization.
Fact 2: the Obama administration is absolutely furious because Thailand is not on board with the TPP negotiations. TPP, of course, is the NATO-on-trade arm of the “pivoting to Asia.”
Fact 3: multiple Beltway factions are even more furious because of the very close trade/strategic relationship of the NCPO (the ruling junta in Thailand) with Beijing.

Pepe Escobar: Who profits from the Bangkok bombing? (Asia Times)

Last year, General Prime Minister Prayuth was saying that democracy would be back by October 2015, two months from now. A new road though map spells out elections only – maybe — by 2017.
The draft of a new constitution is due to be voted next month by the — also quaintly Orwellian — National Reform Council. And a public referendum may – or may not – happen in January 2016.
This is all supposed to be in place in case the royal succession is relatively imminent. Revered King Bhumibol’s health is faltering, and the Crown Prince’s public profile displayed in full — and fun — regalia at the Bike for Mom spectacular is part of the softening of the transition. Key subtext; all avenues for Thaksin Shinawatra and his Red Shirt army to plan a comeback must be closed a.s.a.p.

Борис Ю. Кагарлицкий: Ципрас и левые / Boris Ju. Kagarlitzki: Tsipras und die Linken (Telepolis)

В новых условиях требуются другие люди, другие организации и другая политика. Пора отложить модные книги Фуко, Негри и Жижека, чтобы на практике проверить, насколько хорошо мы усвоили уроки Ленина, Кейнса и Макиавелли.

Stathis Kouvelakis: Griechenland: Der Kampf geht weiter (Marx21)

Stathis Kouvelakis, Mitglied im Parteivorstand von Syriza und führendes Mitglied der Linken Plattform, beschreibt im Interview, welche Lehren er aus den letzten Wochen gezogen hat und wie seine Perspektive für Syriza und die europäische Linke aussieht.

Gideon Levy: The Doctor Who Dared to Come Out Against a Torturous Law (Haaretz)

There are doctors in the Shin Bet who have trained and train torturers and there are doctors in the Israel Prison Service who are prepared right now to establish “emergency rooms” in the prisons for force-feeding. The horror show of moving Mohammed Allaan from one hospital to another, perhaps to “change atmosphere” or perhaps to force-feed him in a hospital whose director is a brigadier general in the reserves, did not raise enough protest. Doctors who would forcibly insert a tube into someone’s stomach should be boycotted and ostracized, in Israel and abroad, them and their superiors. No research projects, no conferences, no in-service training, no membership in the IMA.
In recent months, two Palestinian hunger-strikers have grabbed international attention. Some cheered the freedom fighters, whose hunger strikes were intended purely to bring about their release from detention without trial. In Israel, their cases were brought up only with regard to the risk to the state’s image were they to die. No one asked why they were striking. Perhaps their struggle was just? Perhaps they should be admired for their determination and their sacrifice?
All means were legitimized to prevent “image damage.” We’ll push a feeding tube into them and foster the image of the state.

Mohammed Allaan has been held without charge or trial in “administrative detention” by Israel.
Jonathan Lis, Shirly Seidler, Jack Khoury, Ido Efrati: Israeli Court Freezes Administrative Detention Order for Hunger-striking Palestinian Prisoner (Haaretz)

The Supreme Court’s ruling is a compromise. On the one hand, the judges froze the order, fearing criticism against the Israeli judicial system should Allaan die while under administrative detention. On the other hand, the judges haven’t revoked the order completely so as not to signal a surrender to the hunger strike. 
The Adalah Center and Attorney Jamil Khatib, who filed the petition to release Allaan, said in response to the ruling that “though the court accepted the petition, it only did so once Allaan’s case became cruel and vindictive, and he has reached the verge of death.” 
An MRI examination showed that Allaan indeed did suffer irreversible neurological damage as a result of vitamin deficiency, medical officials said on Wednesday. Hours earlier, the state said he would be released if his medical condition deteriorates to an extent that renders him permanently incapacitated.
State representative Attorney Yochi Gnessin said earlier Wednesday that “If it turns out that the detainee is in an irreversible and permanent medical cognitive situation that will not enable him to resume his activities, the state will announce that the arrest warrant will become void immediately.”

Greece | India

Ian Traynor, Graeme Wearden: Greek MPs back new austerity plan as nation faces day of judgment (Guardian)
Stathis Kouvelakis: Από τον παραλογισμό στην τραγωδία; () / From the Absurd to the Tragic [?] (Jacobin)

Those who lead Greece and its Left to surrender should be opposed.

Helena Smith: Alexis Tsipras reshuffles cabinet to get rid of bailout dissidents (Guardian)

In a move aimed squarely at displaying his determination to forge ahead with spending cuts and reforms, Alexis Tsipras replaced leading government ministers. The shakeup marked a decisive split from militants in his radical left Syriza party who had voted against tough measures demanded in return for rescue funds from the EU and IMF.
“It marks the beginning of the end of his relationship with the extremist far-left faction,” said Aristides Hatzis, associate professor of law and economics at Athens University. “But it is also clear that this is a short-term government. Tsipras’s hands are tied because these people still have a strong presence in his parliamentary group.”

The Left Platform of Syriza: The Alternative to Austerity (Jacobin)

There is an alternative to capitulation in Greece.

Panagiotis Sotiris: The Future Is Now (Jacobin)

It’s time for a united front on the Greek left against austerity and for a rupture with the eurozone.

Harry Lambert: Yanis Varoufakis opens up about his five month battle to save Greece (New Statesman)

In his first interview since resigning, Greece’s former Finance Minister says the Eurogroup is “completely and utterly” controlled by Germany, Greece was “set up” and last week’s referendum was wasted.

Sebastian Budgen, Panagiotis Sotiris: The Other Greek Left (Jacobin)

On a Greek left dominated by Syriza and the Communist Party, Antarsya is often overlooked. Where did the organization come from and where is it going?

Prabhat Patnaik: Modern India sans the Impact of Capitalism (PDF; Economic & Political Weekly)
Saroj Giri: The Idea of India (Monthly Review)

The idea of India performs a remarkable feat with utmost dexterity: pushing a right-wing agenda (like the defence of private property) through progressive, left-wing values and proposals.

Greece

Ian Traynor, John Hooper, Helena Smith: Greek referendum no vote signals huge challenge to eurozone leaders (Guardian)

Victory by Syriza party of 60% to 40% in polarising referendum presents nightmare for eurozone elites, particularly German chancellor Angela Merkel…
Five years of failed austerity policies in Greece and a total breakdown in trust between the leftwing Syriza alliance and the political leaders of its creditors climaxed in a national vote in which Greeks said no to the spending cuts and tax increases demanded by its lenders…
Tsipras said that Greece “has proved that democracy cannot be blackmailed; Greece has made a brave choice and one which will change the debate in Europe…
Germany’s vice chancellor and social democratic [sic!] leader, Sigmar Gabriel, said Tsipras had burned his bridges with the rest of the eurozone.

Yanis Varoufakis: Minister No More! (Yanis Varoufakis)

Soon after the announcement of the referendum results, I was made aware of a certain preference by some Eurogroup participants, and assorted ‘partners’, for my… ‘absence’ from its meetings; an idea that the Prime Minister judged to be potentially helpful to him in reaching an agreement. For this reason I am leaving the Ministry of Finance today.
I consider it my duty to help Alexis Tsipras exploit, as he sees fit, the capital that the Greek people granted us through yesterday’s referendum.
And I shall wear the creditors’ loathing with pride.

Catarina Príncipe: Is Merkel Being Irrational? (Jacobin)

Accepting that a left-wing government is correct and that austerity was never a solution would open additional political space for left-wing movements across Europe. Taking even a small step back from the pro-austerity narrative would forever weaken the political position of German political elites. It might even their sacrifice their existence as such.

Nantina Vgontzas: What Comes After Oxi? (Jacobin)

Five possible scenarios after today’s referendum in Greece.

Georg Blume, Thomas Picketty: „Deutschland hat nie bezahlt“ (Zeit) / “Germany has never repaid.” (Medium)

In a forceful interview with German newspaper Die Zeit, the star economist Thomas Piketty calls for a major conference on debt. Germany, in particular, should not withhold help from Greece.

Greece | South Africa | Australia | Israel/Palestine

Karen Attiah: How Western media would cover Baltimore if it happened elsewhere (Washington Post)

International leaders expressed concern over the rising tide of racism and state violence in America, especially concerning the treatment of ethnic minorities in the country and the corruption in state security forces around the country when handling cases of police brutality. The latest crisis is taking place in Baltimore, Maryland, a once-bustling city on the country’s Eastern Seaboard, where an unarmed man named Freddie Gray died from a severed spine while in police custody.
Black Americans, a minority ethnic group, are killed by state security forces at a rate higher than the white majority population. Young, black American males are 21 times more likely to be shot by police than white American males.

Νίκη Ζορμπά: Π. Λαφαζάνης: Να πάμε σε σύγκρουση με τη γερμανική Ευρώπη (Capital.gr)

Σε μια συνέντευξη-φωτιά, ο υπουργός Παραγωγικής Ανασυγκρότησης, Περιβάλλοντος και Ενέργειας, Παναγιώτης Λαφαζάνης, καλεί την κυβέρνηση να ακολουθήσει τον δρόμο της ρήξης με τους εταίρους, μιλά για «αδίστακτους ιμπεριαλιστές», που φέρονται στη χώρα σαν να είναι μακρινή αποικία τους, ενώ αναφέρεται εμφατικά στην ανάγκη να απαγκιστρωθεί η Ελλάδα από την «κατεστημένη Ευρώπη», ακολουθώντας εναλλακτικούς δρόμους.

A. Makris: Greek Productive Reconstruction Min: SYRIZA Government Must Be One of Progressive Reversals (Greek Reporter)
Peter Spiegel, Kerin Hope: Frustrated officials want Greek premier to ditch Syriza far left (Financial Times)

Many officials — up to and including some eurozone finance ministers — have suggested privately that only a decision by Alexis Tsipras, Greek prime minister, to jettison the far left of his governing Syriza party can make a bailout agreement possible.

Aditya Chakrabortty: Europe carpets the Greeks but rolls out the red carpet for Narendra Modi. How’s that right? (Guardian)
Elisa Simantke, Nikolas Leontopoulos: Costas Lapavitsas: “The Syriza strategy has come to an end (ThePressProject) / „Beste Strategie ist geordneter Austritt aus dem Euro“ (Tagesspiegel)

Syriza MP and economist Costas Lapavitsas says that the time has come for Greece and its partners to understand that “they are flogging a dead horse”.

Garikai Chengu: Xenophobia in South Africa (CounterPunch)

Far from being a Rainbow Nation, ongoing xenophobic violence in South Africa’s townships exposes the nation’s further entrenchment into two separate and unequal societies: one, predominantly Black and poor, located in the townships; the other, largely White and affluent, located in the suburbs…
When Nelson Mandela was released from 27 years in prison in 1990, the Black townships exploded in endless celebration. Today, after twenty one years of the ANC government, which has been more concerned with appeasing White monopoly capital than redistributing land and resources to poor Blacks, townships have exploded into violence…
Filtered through the racist lens of the predominantly White-owned South African media, xenophobia is portrayed as merely further examples of “Black-on-Black” violence by an inherently unruly and violent underbelly of society. The four major media houses are still largely White and male-owned; collectively, they control over 80 percent of what South Africans watch and read. The White media focuses on the symptom rather than the disease by steering the national discourse away from broader issues of income inequality and economic democratisation, towards narrow issues of vandalism, looting and general criminality…
Despite twenty years of South African democracy, five White-owned companies still control 75 percent of South Africa’s stock market. It’s the largest concentration of wealth and power on earth…
Neo-Apartheid companies in South Africa made record profits for Western shareholders since democracy in 1994; all the while, they shed hundreds of thousands of jobs. At independence, unemployment stood at 15 percent; today, that figure has skyrocketed to 25 percent. Instead of employing South Africans, major White-owned companies have sought to increase shareholder profits by outsourcing jobs abroad and hiring exploitable, African foreigners at home.

Israel denies Nzimande visa without explanation (The New Age)
Shannon Ebrahim: Israel denies Nzimande a visa (Independent)

The South African Government is outraged that Israel has denied a visa to South African Minister of Higher Education Blade Nzimande to visit Palestine with an official delegation…
Nzimande was invited to Palestine by his Palestinian counterpart from 25-29 April 2015 in order to discuss the implementation of an agreement on academic collaboration that they signed when Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas visited South Africa in November 2014…
Nzimande and his delegation of three officials had followed normal procedures to apply for a visa through the Embassy of Israel, but the application was returned with no explanation. The Israeli Embassy has now confirmed that they declined to issue the visa, and are adamant they will not be issuing the visas.

Govan Whittles: Nzimande visa denial to Israel viewed as attack on South African Government (Eyewitness News)

The Department of Higher Education says Minister Blade Nzimande was denied a visa to Israel because of his public utterances against the illegal occupation of Palestine by Israel.
But, the department says it views this as an attack on the South African government…
Nzimande’s spokesperson Khaye Nkwanyana said, “This is a government position that is why even the President of Palestine was here, which means that a government minister will never be able to travel to Israel or Palestine because Israel has taken this particular position against South Africa.”
Nkwanyana said the decision has effectively barred all South African officials from visiting both countries.

Liberman lashes out at South Africa after Israel denies visa to Communist minister (Jerusalem Post)
Blade urges students to cut ties with Israeli institutions (Sunday World)

[The South African education ministry said:] “This is the first time a South African cabinet minister has been declined a visa.”
The University of Johannesburg is‚ the ministry said‚ “the first university in SA to terminate academic relations with an Israeli institution”.

JTA: South Africa Minister Barred by Israel From Visiting West Bank (Forward)

Reacting to the denial of the visa, Nzimande told Independent Media on Thursday: “The Israeli government is trying by all means to hide their atrocities against the Palestinian people and minimize the number of people who can actually see what is happening on the ground.”

Muhammed Ismail Bulbulia: Nzimande Latest South African to Be Denied Israeli Visa Over Pro-Palestinian Stance (allAfrica)

Minister of public works Thulas Nxesi, then part of the 13 member Non-Aligned Movement Committee on Palestine, was prevented from entering Palestine in 2012…
Archbishop emeritus Desmond Tutu was denied access to Gaza in 2006 when he led a UN Human Rights Council delegation to investigate the killing of 19 members of a Palestinian family in Beit Hanoun…
Other prominent South Africans that have been denied access into Palestine include educationist Salim Vally, academic Naeem Jeenah and boycott activist Marthie Momberg.

John Pilger: The Secret Country Again Wages War on Its Own People (CounterPunch)

Australia has again declared war on its Indigenous people, reminiscent of the brutality that brought universal condemnation on apartheid South Africa. Aboriginal people are to be driven from homelands where their communities have lived for thousands of years. In Western Australia, where mining companies make billion dollar profits exploiting Aboriginal land, the state government says it can no longer afford to “support” the homelands.
Vulnerable populations, already denied the basic services most Australians take for granted, are on notice of dispossession without consultation, and eviction at gunpoint. Yet again, Aboriginal leaders have warned of “a new generation of displaced people” and “cultural genocide”…
The current political attack was launched in the richest state, Western Australia. Last October, the state premier, Colin Barnett, announced that his government could not afford the $90 million budget for basic municipal services to 282 homelands: water, power, sanitation, schools, road maintenance, rubbish collection. It was the equivalent of informing the white suburbs of Perth that their lawn sprinklers would no longer sprinkle and their toilets no longer flush; and they had to move; and if they refused, the police would evict them…
Western Australia jails Aboriginal males at more than eight times the rate of apartheid South Africa. It has one of the highest incarceration rates of juveniles in the world, almost all of them indigenous, including children kept in solitary confinement in adult prisons, with their mothers keeping vigil outside.

Glenn Greenwald: Cowardly firing of Australian state-funded TV journalist highlights the west’s real religion (Intercept)

The excuses offered by SBS for McIntyre’s firing are so insulting as to be laughable. Minister Turnball denies that he made the decision even as he admits that, beyond his public denunciation, he “drew [McIntyre’s comments] to the attention of SBS’s managing director Michael Ebeid.” The Minister also issued a statement endorsing McIntyre’s firing, saying that “in his capacity as a reporter employed by SBS he has to comply with and face the consequences of ignoring the SBS social media protocol.” For its part, SBS laughably claims McIntyre wasn’t fired for his views, but, rather, because his “actions have breached the SBS Code of Conduct and social media policy” — as though he would have been fired if he had expressed reverence for, rather than criticism of, Anzac.
Notably, McIntyre’s firing had nothing to do with any claimed factual inaccuracies of anything he said. As The Washington Post’s Adam Taylor noted, historians and even a former prime minister have long questioned the appropriateness of this holiday given the realities of Anzac’s conduct and the war itself. As Australian history professor Philip Dwyer documented, McIntyre’s factual assertions are simply true. Whatever else one might say, the issues raised by McIntyre are the subject of entirely legitimate political debate, and they should be. Making it a firing offense for a journalist to weigh in on one side of that debate but not the other is tyrannical.

Rebecca Sullivan: SBS reporter Scott McIntyre fired over Anzac tweets (Gold Coast Bulletin)

On Saturday evening, soccer reporter Scott McIntyre tweeted five times about Australia’s involvement in numerous wars.
The cultification of an imperialist invasion of a foreign nation that Australia had no quarrel with is against all ideals of modern society.
— Scott McIntyre (@mcintinhos) April 25, 2015
Wonder if the poorly-read, largely white, nationalist drinkers and gamblers pause today to consider the horror that all mankind suffered.
— Scott McIntyre (@mcintinhos) April 25, 2015
Remembering the summary execution, widespread rape and theft committed by these ‘brave’ Anzacs in Egypt, Palestine and Japan.
— Scott McIntyre (@mcintinhos) April 25, 2015
Not forgetting that the largest single-day terrorist attacks in history were committed by this nation & their allies in Hiroshima & Nagasaki
— Scott McIntyre (@mcintinhos) April 25, 2015
Innocent children, on the way to school, murdered. Their shadows seared into the concrete of Hiroshima. pic.twitter.com/DQOGXiKxEb
— Scott McIntyre (@mcintinhos) April 25, 2015
Mr McIntyre has more than 30,000 Twitter followers.
SBS Managing Director Michael Ebeid and Director of Sport Ken Shipp said Mr McIntyre had breached the station’s Code of Conduct and social media policy.
“Respect for Australian audiences is paramount at SBS,” Mr Ebeid and Mr Shipp said in a statement.

Heiko Khoo: Günter Grass dies at age 87 (China.org.cn)
Andre Vltchek: Galeano Died (CounterPunch)

This is How We Fought in Gaza. Soldiers’ testimonies and photographs from Operation “Protective Edge” (2014) (PDF; Breaking the Silence)

While the testimonies include pointed descriptions of inappropriate behavior by soldiers in the field, the more disturbing picture that arises from these testimonies reflects systematic policies that were dictated to IDF forces of all ranks and in all zones. The guiding military principle of “minimum risk to our forces, even at the cost of harming innocent civilians,” alongside efforts to deter and intimidate the Palestinians, led to massive and unprecedented harm to the population and the civilian infrastructure in the Gaza Strip. Policymakers could have predicted these results prior to the operation and were surely aware of them throughout.

Ripe for Abuse. Palestinian Child Labor in Israeli Agricultural Settlements in the West Bank (PDF; Human Rights Watch)

Hundreds of Palestinian children work on Israeli settlement farms in the occupied West Bank, the majority located in the Jordan Valley. This report documents rights abuses against Palestinian children as young as 11 years old, who earn around US $19 for a full day working in the settlement agricultural industry. Many drop out of school and work in conditions that can be hazardous due to pesticides, dangerous equipment, and extreme heat.

Conal Urquhart: Chinese workers in Israel sign no-sex contract (Guardian)

Chinese workers at a company in Israel have been forced to agree not to have sex with or marry Israelis as a condition of getting a job…
About 260,000 foreigners work in Israel, having replaced Palestinian labourers during three years of fighting. When the government first allowed the entrance of the foreign workers in the late 1990s, ministers warned of a “social timebomb” caused by their assimilation with Israelis.
More than half the workers are in the country illegally…
Advocates of foreign workers, who also come from Thailand, the Philippines and Romania, say they are subject to almost slave conditions, and their employers often take away their passports and refuse to pay them.

Alexander Cockburn, Jeffrey St. Clair: The Making of Hillary Clinton
pt. 1: From Nixon Girl to Watergate
pt. 2: The Seeds of Corruption
pt. 3: Secrecy, Intransigence and War (CounterPunch)

Michel Collon, Saïd Bouamama: The Furor Over “Fuck France” (CounterPunch)

In France there has always been a fight between two conceptions of the nation: a fight between those who considered France in a colonial, imperial and racist way, and another France, which belongs to its people. A France in struggle, always trying to build herself in equality. And then, in this book, we are stating in clear terms that between the France of Versailles, who once put down the Commune of Paris, and the France of the Communards, who tried to set up an equalitarian society, our choice was made. That we were on the Resistance’s side and against the collaborationists, and that we would always have to choose between two Frances: the reactionary France and the progressive France…
After the attacks [on Charlie Hebdo] took place, after the massive emotion that seized French society, everyone was wondering what was hidden behind those attacks…
Yet plenty of people who were against the attacks could not recognize themselves in Charlie. Even if it doesn’t mean that the attacks were justified, Charlie Hebdo is a newspaper which was on one side Islamophobic (…), but it was also sexist (the way in which women are represented inside the paper is a scandal with regard to gender equality), and eventually the newspaper openly despized the working-class: in Charlie Hebdo, the “bof” is a workman shown as alcoholic, stupid, only watching tv… And then, in terms of classes, and in terms of racial and sexual oppression, this newspaper was a reactionary one. It may be added that it supported every single war, like NATO’s wars, whether they were in Eastern Europe, in Iraq or in Afghanistan: Charlie Hebdo always took a stand for them. In brief, the newspaper was putting forward, through humor, the clash of civilizations advocated by the United States of America, and presented Arab and Muslim countries as the main danger…
This is the context in which this so-called national unity took place. Moreover, it didn’t take long (…) to provoke reactions and open the floodgates to the development of Islamophobic actions. We registered more than 200 of them within fifteen days: we saw mosques being attacked, grenades thrown in prayer centers, veiled women whose veil was snatched from them on the street… Indeed we experience more Islamophobic acts in two weeks than during the whole year in 2014…
A first consequence was to impose a minute of silence in every school, around the slogan “Je suis Charlie”. Of course, a whole wide range of pupils (not to say too many of them) could not say “Je suis Charlie”, and then they expressed their opinion. They were told that it was a debate and that they could speak up, so they gave their opinion, but when they did then they were summoned to report to the police, some of them are now facing legal proceedings… France considered that not being Charlie implied an apology for terrorism. Eight-year old children were summoned to the police station to be audited for terrorism apology.

Greece | Spain | France | Korea | Israel | Palestine

Catarina Príncipe: First Days, First Decisions (Jacobin)

Syriza has only been in power for a week, but debates are already raging inside and outside the party.

Serge Halimi: A modest and crazy dream (Monde diplomatique)

Syriza in Greece and Podemos in Spain offer a chance at change in Europe’s politics, possibly the only escape from a despair which is inflaming the nihilism and extremism that led to the events in Paris.

Renaud Lambert: Now can Podemos win in Spain? (Monde diplomatique)

Syriza in Greece has a natural ally in Spain’s Podemos, the leftwing party that grew out of the demonstrations of 2011 and challenges the political status quo.

Panagiotis Sotiris: A Strategy of Ruptures: Ten Theses on the Greek Future (Viewpoint)
Mehreen Khan: The biggest debt write-offs in the history of the world (Telegraph)

A small southern eastern European country has announced a widescale programme of debt cancellation. No, it’s not Greece, but Croatia.
The Croatian government will be wiping off the liabilities of around 60,000 of its poorest citizens in a move to provide a “fresh start” for its indebted low-earners and get the economy moving again.
Although much of the current debate among Europe’s policymakers seems to regard debt relief as the ultimate taboo, the move for a government to cancel their citizens’ liabilities, or for a sovereign to be forgiven by its creditors, is not nearly as unprecedented as we might think…
Following the end of WWII, the London Debt Agreement of 1953 saw the abolition of all of Germany’s external debt. The total forgiveness amounted to around 280pc of GDP from 1947-53, according to historian Albrecht Ritschl…
In the words of historian Ursula Rombeck-Jaschinski, Germany’s “economic miracle would have been impossible without the debt agreement.”…
Greece’s new government is pushing for a debt conference on the lines of that which saved Germany from its post-war abyss. At more than €300bn, the Syriza-led coalition wants a nearly half of its debt pile to be permanently wiped off. So far, the country’s Troika of creditors are not playing ball.

„Deutschland ist der größte Schuldensünder des 20. Jahrhunderts“ (Spiegel)

Deutschland hat im 20. Jahrhundert zwei Weltkriege begonnen, den zweiten davon als Vernichtungs- und Ausrottungskrieg geführt – und anschließend haben die Feinde die Reparationszahlungen ganz oder in beträchtlichem Umfang erlassen. Dass die Bundesrepublik ihre wirtschaftliche Blüte der Gnade anderer Völker verdankt, hat auch in Griechenland niemand vergessen.

Russia might bailout Greece – finance minister (RT)

Jan Erik Wetzel: Space shrinking for freedom of expression in South Korea (Open Democracy)

The right to freedom of expression in South Korea is under renewed attack. On 19 December, the Constitutional Court dissolved the opposition Unified Progressive Party (UPP), finding it had violated the country’s “basic democratic order”. The court also ordered that all UPP lawmakers in the National Assembly should lose their seats.
The court found that the UPP had the “hidden objective of realising North Korean style socialism”, based on party activities which purportedly included “assemblies to discuss insurrection”. The court’s decision referred, among other things, to “acts of refusing the national anthem and not raising the national flag” as indicative that the UPP “advocates the positions of North Korea”…
The UPP judgment has to be seen in conjunction with the widened and arbitrary application of South Korea’s infamous National Security Law (NSL) over recent years, which has diminished the space for freedom of expression…
The latest clampdown involves two women who organised and talked about North Korea during a speaking tour in South Korea in November. The US national Shin Eun-mi was deported earlier this month for speaking positively about North Korea, while the South Korean citizen Hwang Seon was arrested on 14 January and has been charged under the NSL for causing “social confusion” by holding the talks, and praising the North Korean regime on YouTube and in blog posts.

Hyun Lee: A Korean American Housewife Confronts South Korea’s National Security Law (Japan Focus)

On January 10, after detaining her for questioning on charges of violating the National Security Law (NSL), South Korea deported U.S. citizen Shin Eun-mi and barred her from returning to the country for the next five years. For the past two months, the Korean American housewife made daily headlines in South Korea after her speaking tour on her travels to North Korea sparked controversy and became the target of right-wing attacks. At one of the events, the detonation of a homemade bomb forced the evacuation of 200 people. South Korean authorities interrogated Shin for more than 50 hours before deporting her and arresting activist Hwang Sun who emceed the speaking tour.
“The gap caused by national division runs very deep in South Korean society,” says Shin. Indeed, in a year, 2015, that marks the 70th anniversary of the division of the Korean peninsula, the Park Geun-hye government seems intent on silencing all those who advocate peaceful unification. The deportation of Shin and the arrest of Hwang follow on the heels of South Korea’s dissolution of the opposition Unified Progressive Party and growing concerns about intensifying government crackdown on free speech. The South Korean Ministry of Justice recently announced that it will push to strengthen the controversial NSL to allow the Supreme Court to disband organizations it deems “anti-government.”

Houria Bouteldja, Malik Tahar Chaouch: The Unity Trap (Jacobin)

After the armed attack on the Charlie Hebdo cartoonists, the political and media exploiters of the emotional reaction to these events made a catchphrase of the words “national unity.” In so doing, they masked the attack’s social and geopolitical causes, and began a witch hunt against anyone who refused to submit to their agenda.
The “war on terror” — a weapon of theirs based on the supposed defense of “freedom” against “obscurantism” and “barbarism” — thus serves to consolidate the social and political order that contributed to this violence in the first place. Indeed, it suppresses any struggles that challenge these structures — including the fight against Islamophobia.

Richard Seymour: Sandbox Security (Jacobin)

In France, police bravely defend liberal democracy from an eight-year-old boy.
That “free speech” again. French press brings us news of a little boy named Ahmed who “glorified terrorism,” and was duly shipped to the police by the teacher and head of school.
Apparently, when asked in class on January 8 if he was “Charlie,” he replied that he was not. He didn’t like Charlie Hebdo‘s cartoons, and that his feelings were with the terrorists. “I am the terrorists, because I am against the cartoonists of the Prophet.”
The head of the school later apprehended Ahmed while he played in a sandbox, saying “stop digging in the sand, you will not find a machine gun there to kill us all with.” Subsequently, the boy’s father accompanied him to school on a couple of occasions, Ahmed being rather distressed and out of sorts by the treatment he was subjected to.
Then on January 21, the head of the school decided to press charges against the little boy and his father. The boy was reported to police for “glorification of terrorism,” and the father for “trespassing” when he accompanied the boy to the school. Both father and son were forced to report to the police station in Nice to answer these charges.

Shlomo Sand: A Fetid Wind of Racism Hovers Over Europe (CounterPunch)

[T]here exists a fundamental difference between challenging a religion or a dominant belief in a society, and that of attacking or inciting against the religion of a dominated minority. If, in the breast of ‘Judeo-Muslim’ [no less ridiculous than the Judeo-Christian label] society – in Saudi Arabia, in the Gulf Emirates – there is a groundswell of protests and warnings against the dominant religion that oppresses workers in their thousands, and millions of women, we have the responsibility to support the persecuted protestors. Now, as one well knows, Western leaders, far from encouraging the would-be disciples of Voltaire and Rousseau in the Middle East, maintain their total support to the religious regimes the most repressive.

Walden Bello: How the Left Failed France’s Muslims (CounterPunch)

The real breeding ground for extremism stems from the treatment of immigrant groups within Europe. Racial, ethnic, and religious discrimination have driven a generation of young migrants to radical movements as a solution to an absence of job prospects, poor education, deteriorated neighborhoods, lack of respect, and repeated bouts in jail. Ironically, the crackdown on these communities in the aftermath of the attacks could potentially escalate the problem.

Gideon Levy: A Labor win will only entrench the occupation / רק לא הרצוג (Haaretz)

On the most fateful issue, another term for Netanyahu would be a disaster, but a victory for Zionist Camp could be a worse disaster…
The Labor Party is the founding mother of the settlement enterprise; it never considered stopping it.
Its historical responsibility for the occupation is greater than Likud’s. The Labor troika of Golda Meir, Yisrael Galili and Moshe Dayan founded it, Shimon Peres continued it, and Herzog will go down the same path.

Gideon Levy: Zionist Camp reveals its true, racist face / המחנה הביזיוני (Haaretz)

The party that some hoped would defend Israeli democracy from attacks by the right wing has now joined the assault…
In the case of Zionist Camp it’s the decision to support the disqualification of MK Haneen Zoabi (Joint List) from running for the Knesset. With a left like this, we don’t need Yisrael Beiteinu chairman Avigdor Lieberman anymore…
If Zionist Camp disqualifies Zoabi, a brave, authentic and legitimate candidate who hasn’t hurt a fly and who reflects the views of her voters, the Arabs of Israel and lovers of democracy will know: On this issue too, there is no difference between the right wing and this left wing…
But in its decision, Zionist Camp proved something much deeper and more significant: In Israel of 2015, Zionism and democracy cannot go hand in hand; there is an inner contradiction, inherent and unavoidable, between contemporary Zionism and the rights of Israel’s Arab minority, and there is of course also a deep contradiction between “Jewish” and “democratic.”
From that point of view, Zionist Camp has made a great contribution to the truth: There is no such thing as “Jewish” and “democratic.” In its decision, Zionist Camp has chosen “Jewish” at the expense of “democratic”: Zionist Camp knows that behind the decision to disqualify Zoabi is the transparent desire to remove all the “Zoabis” from the Knesset. There is no such thing as a democracy, where elected officials are prohibited from criticizing, as Zoabi is accused of doing, a member of their own people for serving in a police force that kills other members of their people.

Zeev Sternhell: Why the election in Israel will change nothing (Haaretz)

A radical change will not happen here as long as the present regime does not bring about a major national crisis. A failure such as Operation Protective Edge is not enough, since the heavy price of that conflict was paid primarily by the Palestinians.
Therefore, the realistic alternative lies in external intervention that will be massive enough to shake Israelis out of the placidity of their comfortable lives.
Only when everyone among us can feel the price of the occupation in their flesh, will the end to blue-and-white colonialism and apartheid come. Only when the economy is hit in a way that affects the overall standard of living, or when security is undermined as a result of a serious threat to American interests in the region, will the real treatment for eliminating the occupation and guaranteeing our future begin.

Mike Whitney: 40 Years of Economic Policy in One Chart (CounterPunch)

Growth of Real Hourly Compensation for Production/Nonsupervisory Workers and Productivity, 1948–2011
Is America in the throes of a class war?
Look at the chart and decide for yourself. It’s all there in black and white, and you don’t need to be an economist to figure it out.

Palestine | Iraq | Afghanistan | Egypt | Media

Jason Burke: Gaza homes ‘uninhabitable’ as tens of thousands come back to rubble (Guardian)

Previous estimates of 65,000 rendered homeless in Gaza now look conservative. In Beit Hanoun alone, around 30,000 people will have to be rehoused. The town is just one of around a dozen communities lying in the three kilometre “free fire zone” declared by Israeli troops during the most intense period of fighting to have been devastated…
On Monday, the United Nations called the level of destruction “unprecedented.”

Amy Goodman: Ilan Pappé: Israel Has Chosen to be a “Racist Apartheid State” with U.S. Support (Democracy Now)
Gaza: Israeli Soldiers Shoot and Kill Fleeing Civilians (Human Rights Watch)
Mounting evidence of deliberate attacks on Gaza health workers by Israeli army (Amnesty International)
Russ Greenleaf: Make no mistake, Israel is targeting citizens in Gaza (Courier-Journal)

When John Kerry said, “some pinpoint operation,” he was asking the obvious question: Why is it that over half the people Israel has killed in Gaza are women and children? More than 150 children. If Israel is trying to avoid hitting civilians, why are over 70 percent of the casualties civilians?

Ben Hubbard, Jodi Rudorenaug: Questions of Weapons and Warnings in Past Barrage on a Gaza Shelter (New York Times)
Geoff Earle: Netanyahu asks US to help Israel avoid war crime charges (New York Post)
Glenn Greenwald: Terrorism in the Israeli Attack on Gaza (Intercept)
Glenn Greenwald: Netanyahu’s ‘Telegenically Dead’ Comment Is Grotesque but Not Original (Intercept)
Desmond Tutu: My plea to the people of Israel: Liberate yourselves by liberating Palestine (Haaretz)

Those who continue to do business with Israel, who contribute to a sense of “normalcy” in Israeli society, are doing the people of Israel and Palestine a disservice. They are contributing to the perpetuation of a profoundly unjust status quo.
Those who contribute to Israel’s temporary isolation are saying that Israelis and Palestinians are equally entitled to dignity and peace.
Ultimately, events in Gaza over the past month or so are going to test who believes in the worth of human beings…
Nelson Mandela famously said that South Africans would not feel free until Palestinians were free.
He might have added that the liberation of Palestine will liberate Israel, too.

Amira Hass: A European green light to kill, destroy and pulverize Gaza (Haaretz)

In its ongoing silence, official Germany is collaborating with Israel on its journey of destruction and death, waged against the Palestinian people in Gaza. Germany isn’t alone – Austria’s silence is also deafening.
Actually, why single out these two countries? On the second or third day of the war, Chancellor Angela Merkel wasn’t the only one to declare that she stood beside Israel. The entire European Union supported Israel and its right “to defend itself.”
Yes, France and Britain did some squirming last week, making a few feeble sounds of protest. But the EU’s original stance, stated on July 22, still resounds. It accused the side under prolonged Israeli siege of causing the escalation. This is the side that, despite all the European declarations on its right to self-determination and an independent state in the West Bank and Gaza, is still under Israeli occupation after 47 years.
EU member states and, obviously, the United States, gave Israel a green light to kill, destroy and pulverize. They placed the brunt of the blame on the people launching the rockets, the Palestinians. The rockets are disrupting the “order” and the “quiet,” endangering the security of Israel, which is so weak and vulnerable, always attacked for no reason whatsoever.

Rainer Rupp: Genozidplanspiele (junge Welt)

Pepe Escobar: Why Obama is bombing the Caliph (RT)

Obama’s bombing of the Caliph’s goons has absolutely nothing to do with US ambassador to the UN Samantha Power’s much beloved R2P (‘responsibility to protect’) doctrine – as in the responsibility to protect up to 150,000 Yazidis, not to mention Kurds and remaining Christians, from a ‘potential’ genocide carried out by the Caliph’s goons…
The Caliph’s goons were dead set on conquering Irbil – the capital of Iraqi Kurdistan. The Kurdistan Regional Government (KRG) is led by the wily Massoud Barzani – a long-time US client/vassal.
The US maintains a consulate in Irbil. Crammed with CIA types. Or, as the New York Times so lovingly puts it, “thousands of Americans.”

Afghanistan: No justice for thousands of civilians killed in US/NATO operations (Amnesty International)

“Thousands of Afghans have been killed or injured by US forces since the invasion, but the victims and their families have little chance of redress. The US military justice system almost always fails to hold its soldiers accountable for unlawful killings and other abuses,” said Richard Bennett, Amnesty International’s Asia Pacific Director.
“None of the cases that we looked into – involving more than 140 civilian deaths – were prosecuted by the US military. Evidence of possible war crimes and unlawful killings has seemingly been ignored.”

Patrick Kingsley: Egypt massacre was premeditated, says Human Rights Watch (Guardian)

Egyptian security forces intentionally killed at least 817 protesters during last August’s Rabaa massacre, in a premeditated attack equal to or worse than China’s Tiananmen Square killings in 1989, Human Rights Watch (HRW) has argued in a report…
The report recommends that several senior individuals within Egypt’s security apparatus be investigated and, where appropriate, held to account for their role in the planning of both the Rabaa massacre and others that occurred last summer – including Abdel Fatah al-Sisi, Egypt’s then defence minister and new president. As head of the army at the time, Sisi had overall responsibility for the army’s role at Rabaa, and has publicly acknowledged spending “very many long days to discuss all the details”.

Lisa O’Carroll: Seymour Hersh on Obama, NSA and the ‘pathetic’ American media (Guardian)

Seymour Hersh has got some extreme ideas on how to fix journalism – close down the news bureaus of NBC and ABC, sack 90% of editors in publishing and get back to the fundamental job of journalists which, he says, is to be an outsider…
The Obama administration lies systematically, he claims, yet none of the leviathans of American media, the TV networks or big print titles, challenge him.

Should we laugh or cry? Since Obama said “We did some things that were wrong. We did a whole lot of things that were right, but we tortured some folks”, the New York Times decided to call torture torture. I guess the New York Times paid special attention to what Obama said right after that: “It’s important for us not to feel too sanctimonious in retrospect about the tough job that those folks had. And a lot of those folks were working hard under enormous pressure and are real patriots.” Remember that Obama also said that after taking office, he only banned “some” of torture techniques.
Alan Yuhas: New York Times to use the word ‘torture’ when describing torture (Guardian)

Under pressure from reporters and editors, the New York Times’ leadership has decided to use the word “torture” with regard to the CIA’s treatment of prisoners in the years following September 11.
Executive editor Dean Baquet published a statement on Thursday announcing the change in style, explaining that since we now know many more details of the CIA’s methods over the past decade – including waterboarding, sleep deprivation and caging prisoners in a box – the “plain-English” meaning of “torture” now outweighs the “specialized legal meaning” of the word.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Thailand | Nigeria | Ukraine | Korea | Indonesia

Giles Ji Ungpakorn (tɕaj ɯ́ŋ pʰaː kɔːn ใจอึ๊งภากรณ์): Thailand: Judicial coup a blow to democracy (tʰaj sǎŋkʰomníjom ไทย สังคมนิยม / Red Thai Socialist)

Thailand’s unelected, anti-democratic and illegitimate Constitutional Court has staged a coup d’etat, overthrowing Prime Minister Yingluck Shinawatra on a mere technicality. It claims the elected prime minister did not have the right to replace a government official.
It is a mere technicality because she is accused of “abusing her power” to appoint an in-law to the vacant position. Yingluk has been accused of this ridiculous “wrongdoing”, but those who made the 2006 military coup and the Democrat Party politicians who killed scores of pro-democracy demonstrators enjoy impunity. …
The Constitutional Court is part of an alliance of the conservative elite. The alliance is made up of the military, the top bureaucrats, the courts, the Democrat Party, the middle classes and the NGOs. These are the guilty people who have promoted the destruction of democracy.
Since the end of last year, violent right-wing anti-democratic mobs have openly used violence, including the use of fire arms, to wreck the February elections. At the same time, middle-class academics and NGO leaders have joined a disgusting chorus of hypocritical calls for an appointed prime minister and measures to restrict the democratic franchise in the name of “peace”.

Peter Symonds: Thailand’s judicial coup (World Socialist Web Site)

The judicial ousting of the Thai prime minister this week is a sharp warning to workers of the turn to anti-democratic methods of rule by the ruling classes, not only in Thailand, but internationally.
In a nakedly political decision on Wednesday, the Constitutional Court ordered the removal of Yingluck Shinawatra on the spurious grounds that she had replaced a national security adviser with one of her own supporters. While acknowledging that the prime minister had acted within her powers, the court declared that by appointing a relative she had violated “moral principle.”

Tom Peters: Thailand: Ex-PM faces impeachment on bogus “negligence” charge (World Socialist Web Site)

The National Anti-Corruption Commission (NACC) yesterday upheld charges against ousted Prime Minister Yingluck Shinawatra that she “neglected her duty” by allowing financial losses linked to her government’s rice buying scheme. The NACC recommended that the Senate impeach Yingluck, and ban her from politics for five years.
The ruling follows the Constitutional Court’s removal of Yingluck from office on Wednesday on the equally bogus charge that she violated “moral principle” by transferring the National Security Council chief from his post in order to promote a relative. Nine cabinet ministers who approved the transfer were also removed.

Tony Iltis: Nigeria: Hypocritical West exploits Boko Haram’s crimes (Green Left Weekly)

More than 270 female secondary students were kidnapped on April 14 as they sat matriculation exams in the north-east Nigerian town of Chibok.
The kidnappers were members of a religious cult that calls itself Jama‘at Ahl as-Sunnah lid-[D]a‘wa wal-Jihad — Arabic for Congregation of the People of Tradition for Proselytism and Jihad.
The group is more commonly known by its Hausa nickname, Boko Haram, which translate — very loosely — as “Western education is filthy”, although this is not a name that the group itself uses.
For the next fortnight the kidnapping was largely ignored by the global media and the Nigerian state.
Nigerian President Goodluck Jonathan was more focused on the World Economic Forum (WEF) meeting in the capital Abuja staring May 7. Jonathan was planning to spin Nigeria to visiting global political and corporate leaders as a neoliberal success story, boosted by the April 7 announcement that Nigeria had overtaken South Africa as the continent’s largest economy. …
[B]y the time the WEF meeting started, the government had accepted military assistance from the US, Britain, France, Canada and China. US military, police and intelligence forces were already in the country. …
Just like the Kony 2012 campaign failed to contextualise the violence of the Lord’s Resistance Army, outside of Nigeria the #BringBackOurGirls campaign and the accompanying media campaign have ignored the context in which Boko Haram emerged.

Jean Shaoul: Nigeria: Boko Haram kidnappings used to justify US military build-up in Africa (World Socialist Web Site)
Xavier Best: Nigeria, Boko Haram & Fantasies of Benevolent Intervention (CounterPunch)

John sent these links:
Simon Denyer, Anna Nemstova: Residents oEastern Ukrainians vote for self-rule in referendum opposed by West (Washington Post)

Residents of two regions of eastern Ukraine turned out in significant numbers Sunday to vote in support of self-rule in a referendum that threatens to deepen divisions in a country already heading perilously toward civil war. …
Both the European Union and the Obama administration said they would not recognize the results of the balloting in the Donetsk and Luhansk regions, which they called illegal.

Associated Press: Armed men in eastern Ukraine open fire on crowd (Washington Post)

Armed men identified as Ukrainian national guard opened fire Sunday on a crowd outside a town hall in eastern Ukraine, and an official for the region’s insurgents said there were fatalities.
The bloodshed in the town of Krasnoarmeisk occurred hours after dozens of armed men shut down voting in a referendum on sovereignty for the region. One of them identified the group as being national guardsmen.

UkraineCrisisEnglish: May 11, Krasnoarmeysk: Ukrainian “army” shoots unarmed people (YouTube)
More on Ukraine:
Slavoj Žižek: Barbarism with a Human Face (London Review of Books)

Again and again in television reports on the mass protests in Kiev against the Yanukovich government, we saw images of protesters tearing down statues of Lenin. It was an easy way to demonstrate anger: the statues functioned as a symbol of Soviet oppression, and Putin’s Russia is perceived as continuing the Soviet policy of Russian domination of its neighbours. Bear in mind that it was only in 1956 that Lenin’s statues started to proliferate throughout the Soviet Union: until then, statues of Stalin were much more common. But after Krushchev’s ‘secret’ denunciation of Stalin at the 20th Congress of the Communist Party, Stalin’s statues were replaced en masse by Lenin’s: Lenin was literally a stand-in for Stalin. …
There was nonetheless a historical irony in watching Ukrainians tearing down Lenin’s statues as a sign of their will to break with Soviet domination and assert their national sovereignty. The golden era of Ukrainian national identity was not tsarist Russia – where Ukrainian national self-assertion was thwarted – but the first decade of the Soviet Union, when Soviet policy in a Ukraine exhausted by war and famine was ‘indigenisation’. Ukrainian culture and language were revived, and rights to healthcare, education and social security introduced. Indigenisation followed the principles formulated by Lenin in quite unambiguous terms: “The proletariat cannot but fight against the forcible retention of the oppressed nations within the boundaries of a given state, and this is exactly what the struggle for the right of self-determination means. The proletariat must demand the right of political secession for the colonies and for the nations that ‘its own’ nation oppresses. Unless it does this, proletarian internationalism will remain a meaningless phrase; mutual confidence and class solidarity between the workers of the oppressing and oppressed nations will be impossible.*”

Chris Marsden: US, Europe issue further threats over self-rule referenda in eastern Ukraine (World Socialist Web Site)
Mike Head: Mariupol killings: US backs Ukrainian regime’s reign of terror (World Socialist Web Site)
Katie Engelhart: To Understand What’s Really Happening in Ukraine, Follow the Gas Lines on This Map (PolicyMic)
Verena Nees: Grüne schüren Konflikt mit Russland (World Socialist Web Site)
William Blum: The Myth of Soviet Expansionism (CounterPunch)
David North: In the service of imperialism: Right-wing “intellectuals” gather in Kiev (World Socialist Web Site)

A group of right-wing academics, journalists, pro-war human-rights activists, and specialists in “discourse” is gathering in Kiev this coming weekend (May 16–19). The purpose of the meeting—headed by Professor Timothy Snyder of Yale University and Leon Wieseltier, the neo-con literary editor of the New Republic—is to bestow political and moral respectability on the Ukrainian regime that came to power in February, through a putsch financed and directed by the United States and Germany…
Back in the 1960s, intellectuals who had participated in the Cold War’s anti-communist Congress for Cultural Freedom were somewhat chagrined when the operations of that organization were publicly linked to the machinations of the Central Intelligence Agency. In those days, to be seen collaborating with the CIA and other state intelligence agencies was considered harmful to one’s intellectual and moral reputation. Tempi passati! The participants of the Kiev assembly are entirely unabashed by the obvious fact that they are part of an event endorsed and stage managed by governments that were heavily involved in the overthrow of the Yanukovych government.

Vice President Joe Biden’s son joins Ukraine gas company (BBC)

Burisma, a private oil and gas company in Ukraine, announced this week that it has appointed Hunter Biden, the youngest son of US Vice President Joe Biden, to its board of directors. …
The move has raised some eyebrows in the US, given the Obama administration’s attempts to manage the ongoing crisis in Ukraine.
“Joe Biden has been the White House’s go-to guy during the Ukraine crisis, touring former Soviet republics and reassuring their concerned leaders,” writes the National Journal’s Marina Koren. “And now, he’s not the only Biden involved in the region.” …
The younger Mr Biden isn’t the only American with political ties to have recently joined Burisma’s board. Devon Archer, a former senior advisor to current Secretary of State John Kerry’s 2004 presidential campaign and a college roommate of Mr Kerry’s stepson HJ Heinz, signed on in April.

Why shouldn’t Hunter Biden join the board of a gas company in Ukraine? (Guardian)

The son of the US vice-president has been chosen to take charge of energy firm Burisma’s legal unit – a decision based purely on merit, of course. …
Do say: “Somebody needs to get involved in Ukraine’s corporate governance, and it might as well be a clutch of rich, well-connected American dudes with weird first names.”
Don’t say: “Thanks, Dad.”

Henri Feron: Doom and Gloom or Economic Boom? The Myth of the “North Korean Collapse” (Asia Pacific Journal)

The DPRK is said to be an economist’s nightmare. There are almost no reliable statistics available, making any analysis speculative at best. The few useable figures that we have, though, fly in the face of the media’s curious insistence on a looming collapse. Food production and trade volumes indicate that the DPRK has largely recovered from the economic catastrophe of the 1990s. Indeed, Pyongyang’s reported rising budget figures appear more plausible than Seoul’s pessimistic politicized estimates. Obviously, sanctions, while damaging, have failed to nail the country down. There are signs that it is now beginning to open up and prepare to exploit its substantial mineral wealth. Could we soon be witnessing the rise of Asia’s next economic tiger?

Rossie Indira, Andre Vltchek: Indonesians Need Revolution! (CounterPunch)

Now, the situation is much worse than 10 years ago. It is because then, there was still some hope. The progressive Muslim leader Abdurrahman Wahid, (known as Gus Dur) was alive and so was Pramoedya Ananta Toer. Mr Wahid, a former President of Indonesia, was a closet Socialist. He was deposed by a judicial coup constructed by the Indonesian elites and military, but many Indonesians still believed that he would manage to make a comeback.

Johannes Stern: European election debate: Conservative, social democratic leaders praise austerity, sanctions vs. Russia (World Socialist Web Site)

Maureen Clare Murphy: Hunger-striking Palestinian prisoners punished by Israel (Electronic Intifada)

Nearly one hundred Palestinians held without charge or trial by Israel under indefinitely renewable administrative detention orders are about to enter their third week of an open-ended hunger strike to demand their freedom. …
Addameer reported today that Israel is punishing the hunger-striking prisoners by isolating them, handcuffing them for ten hours a day, and denying them salt, putting their lives at risk.

Ali Abunimah: Disturbing photos show militarization of Israeli children (Electronic Intifada)
The Israel-apartheid debate (972mag)