Palestine | Libya | Ukraine | Thailand

Harriet Sherwoo,d Hazem Balousha: The world stands disgraced’ – Israeli shelling of school kills at least 15 (Guardian)
Yousef Al-Helou: World watches idly as Israel bombs Gaza school and market (Electronic Intifada)
Penelope Cruz, Javier Bardem, Pedro Almodovar denounce Israel’s ‘genocide’ in Gaza (Haaretz)

Dozens of stars from Spain’s cultural scene have added their names to an open letter blasting Israel’s Gaza operation, and denouncing Israel’s actions as “genocide.”
In the letter, which was published on Monday, Oscar-winners Javier Bardem and Penelope Cruz, and the feted Spanish director Pedro Almodovar, were joined by a long list of names, in calling for the European Union to condemn “the bombing by land, sea and air against the Palestinian civilian population in the Gaza Strip.”

Bardem und Cruz werfen Israel “Völkermord” vor (Spiegel)
Malte Daniljuk: Internationale Künstler fordern Handeln gegen “Völkermord” in Gaza (amerika21)
Here’s the predictable reaction:
Shmuley Boeteach: Penelope Cruz and Javier Bardem are anti-Semites (Jerusalem Post)

Attempts to stifle internal dissent:
Lahav Harkov: Ethics Committee bans Zoabi from Knesset for six months (Jerusalem Post)

[A] Knesset Channel poll found that 89 percent of Jewish Israelis think Zoabi’s citizenship should be revoked, while 10% oppose such a move.

Lahav Harkov: Gal-On slams Zoabi suspension from Knesset as ‘draconian’ (Jerusalem Post)

Meretz chairwoman Zehava Gal-On said the Ethics Committee was behaving outrageously.
“Should a committee that is supposed to guard the rights of the minority be allowed to suspend someone for half a year? Is that not draconian? Are you crazy? That is silencing the opposition,” she complained.

MK Liberman: Zoabi Should Be Kicked Out of Israel (Arutz Sheva)

Foreign Minister, Avigdor Liberman, responded on his Facebook page to the announcement that MK Hanin Zoabi was suspended from the Knesset for the next six months.
“It is not enough to distance Hanin Zoabi from the Knesset for half a year; she should be deported from Israel to Qatar, and join the ranks of the other traitor from her party, Azzami Bashara, who already fled to the region.”

Aeyal Gross: With Zoabi’s suspension, Knesset moves toward fascism (Haaretz)

Attorney General Yehuda Weinstein decided not to open criminal proceedings against MK Haneen Zoabi (Balad) for saying that the kidnappers of Eyal Yifrah, Gilad Shaar and Naftali Fraenkel weren’t terrorists. Weinstein noted that in that same interview she voiced her objection to the kidnapping, creating a “real doubt” about whether her statement broke the law; moreover, he said, indictments that restrict speech should be rare. But he added that his decision dealt only with the criminal aspects, and not the administrative or ethical ones…
Knesset members believe there’s only one permissible view of what constitutes the good of the state, and not only does the majority determine what it is, but it also tries to prevent anyone with a different view from expressing it…
One can disagree with Zoabi’s statement, but it was legal. Since she didn’t voice support for the abduction, she wasn’t supporting terror. Nor did another statement cited by the committee, one in favor of “popular resistance,” constitute a call for violence; as Zoabi has stressed repeatedly, it’s a call for nonviolent resistance…
The last Knesset also stripped Zoabi of some of her parliamentary privileges, including her diplomatic passport…
The committee was used to delegitimize certain views, while not imposing sanctions on other MKs who made offensive statements – like Avigdor Lieberman, who called for boycotting Arab businesses, or Miri Regev, who called asylum seekers a “cancer.” The severity of the punishment also bolsters this contention. When former MK Menachem Porush termed Justice Mishael Cheshin “a pig,” the committee made do with a reprimand, and when former MK Aryeh Eldad said that anyone who cedes territory deserves death, he was suspended for just one day.

Or Kashti: Israeli university rebukes professor who expressed sympathy for both Israeli, Gazan victims (Haaretz)

Bar Ilan University students, faculty and administrators are up in arms over a law professor’s email to his students that opened with an expression of sympathy for all victims of the Israel-Gaza war, implicitly reminding them that the overwhelming majority of those victims are Gazans.
Prof. Hanoch Sheinman’s email was sent to reassure his second-year law students that because the security situation had disrupted many students’ routines, there would be an additional date scheduled for his course’s final exam. Sheinman opened the email, however, by saying that he hoped the message “finds you in a safe place, and that you, your families and those dear to you are not among the hundreds of people that were killed, the thousands wounded, or the tens of thousands whose homes were destroyed or were forced to leave their homes during, or as a direct result of, the violent confrontation in the Gaza Strip and its environs.”

Bar-Ilan University’s McCarthyist values (Haaretz)

The McCarthyism spreading in Israel over the past few weeks is now starting to eat away at the country’s academic institutions. A brief preface to a technical announcement sent to students by a law professor at Bar-Ilan University set off a public storm, a demand for an apology and a condemnation by the university.

Aron Dónzis: Academic rebuked for expressing sympathy for Gaza victims (Times of Israel)
Pierre Heumann: Die Angst der Intellektuellen (Handelsblatt)
More articles:
Blog post advocating ‘Gaza genocide’ removed from Times of Israel website (Haaretz)

The Times of Israel and the 5 Towns Jewish Times removed a blog post from their websites calling for the consideration of genocide as an option in the Gaza conflict. The Times of Israel also dropped the blogger.
In his blog post, titled “When genocide is permissible,” Yochanan Gordon called for a consideration of the argument that Israel would never obtain quiet until it had committed genocide in the Gaza Strip.

Rania Khalek: Israel uses Palestinians as human shields but US lawmakers condemn Hamas (Electronic Intifada)
Stephanie Westbrook: Warplane delivery makes Italy complicit in Israeli crimes (Electronic Intifada)
Ali M. Latifi: Germany remains silent on massacre of its citizens in Gaza (Electronic Intifada)
Philip Weiss: If you voted for Hamas, Israel has a right to kill you, says president of NY Board of Rabbis (Mondoweiss)

Nabila Ramdani: Gaddafi has gone but Libya is more dangerous than ever, thanks to the west (Guardian)

Манифест Народного Фронта Освобождения Украины, Новороссии и Прикарпатской Руси (Радиостанция «Эхо Москвы»)
Man­i­fest der Volks­be­freiungs­front der Ukraine, Neu­rus­s­lands und der rus­sis­chen Karpaten (Linke Zeitung)

Andrew MacGregor Marshall: Thailand’s Military Government Thinks John Oliver Is a Threat to Its Monarchy (Vice News)

[T]he junta that seized power in May is paranoid about Oliver’s activities after he mocked the government and made fun of Thailand’s Crown Prince Maha Vajiralongkorn during the June 22 episode of his HBO show…
While discussing Thailand’s draconian lèse majestè law, which punishes anyone mocking the royal family with three to 15 years in jail, Oliver showed a brief clip from leaked footage of a birthday party beside a swimming pool featuring the crown prince and his wife, who is shown topless. In the footage, the royal couple blow out candles on the birthday cake with their pet poodle Foo Foo, who holds the rank of air chief marshal in the Royal Thai Air Force. The crown prince’s wife is later seen lying on the floor at her husband’s feet, posing with a piece of cake.
“And you’re telling me they’re not supposed to make fun of that?” Oliver asked. “That’s entrapment!”

Palestine | Israel

Rebecca Kaplan: Will Hamas recognize Israel as a Jewish state? (CBS News)

“We are not fanatics; we are not fundamentalists. We do not actually fight the Jews because they are Jews per se. We do not fight any other races. We fight the occupiers,” [Hamas leader] Meshaal said.

Tony Judt: The country that wouldn’t grow up (Haaretz)

At 58, Israel has no friends aside from the U.S. and its claims of victimhood and anti-Semitism are falling on increasingly deaf ears. The time has come to mature

Rina Rozenberg: Second Turkish Gaza flotilla will have military escort, group says (Haaretz)
Amira Hass: Some 150 bodies recovered in Gaza as death toll exceeds 1,000 (Haaretz)

According to the Palestinian Center for Human Rights, of the 928 fatalities who had been identified by name as of 10 A.M. yesterday, 764 were civilians, and they included 215 children and 118 women.
For two weeks, the Israel Defense Forces barred Palestinian rescue teams from reaching wounded Palestinians or searching the ruins of destroyed homes for possible survivors if Israeli infantry units were operating nearby. Seven members of emergency medical teams were killed by the IDF in the past two weeks while trying to reach the wounded.

Armin Käfer: „In Israel gibt es eine Kultur des Hasses“. Interview mit Rolf Verleger (Stuttgarter Zeitung)
Raniah Salloum: Kriegsstimmung in Israel: Wer anders denkt, gilt als Verräter (Spiegel)

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)

Ukraine | Gaza | Egypt | Libya–Korea

Pepe Escobar: Russia 1, Regime Changers 0 (Asia Times)

1. The Obama administration’s “strategic” gambit to subcontract the State Department’s “Khaganate of Nulands” to extricate Ukraine from the Russian sphere of influence – and ultimately annex it to NATO – by instrumentalizing a coalition of willing neo-nazis and fascists with a central bank veneer (prime minister “Yats”), is in utter shambles.
2. Moscow’s counterpunch was to prevent in Crimea – as intercepted by Russian intelligence – a planned replay of the putsch in Kiev. The referendum in Crimea – 85% of turnout, roughly 93% voting for re-joining Russia, according to exit polls – is a done deal, as much as the oh-so-democratic European Union (EU) keeps threatening to punish people in Crimea for exercising their basic democratic rights. (By the way, when the US got Kosovo to secede from Serbia, Serbians were offered no referendum).
3. The main rationale for the whole US “strategic” advance – to have their proxies, the regime changers in Kiev, cancel the agreement for the Russian naval base in Sevastopol – is up in smoke. Moscow remains present in the Black Sea and with full access to the Eastern Mediterranean.

Tens of Thousands March in Moscow Against Crimea Intervention (Common Dreams)

More than 50,000 people poured into the streets of Moscow Saturday to protest military intervention in the Crimea in the largest opposition march Russia has seen since 2012 protests against president Vladimir Putin.

Luke Harding, Shaun Walker: Crimea applies to be part of Russian Federation after vote to leave Ukraine (Guardian)
Heiko Khoo: Power and politics in Ukraine (China.org.cn)
Foreign Ministry Spokesperson Qin Gang’s Remarks on the Current Situation in Ukraine (Ministry of Foreign Affairs of the People’s Republic of China)

We respect the independence, sovereignty and territorial integrity of Ukraine.

王义桅:乌克兰危机的四点启示(《人民日报海外版》)

乌克兰政局并没有随着苏联解体、乌克兰独立并交出世界第三大核武库而消停,恰恰相反,这些年来,乌克兰成为冷战最后的战场,甚至可能引发第二次冷战。乌克兰又倒向了西方,克里米亚地区则公投要重回俄罗斯。俄罗斯和西方地缘政治拉锯战进入最后阶段,带给我们诸多启示。

AFP: Russia isolated as China abstains in UN Security Council vote on Crimea (South China Morning Post)

Russia vetoed a Western-backed resolution condemning today’s referendum in Crimea at an emergency UN Security Council meeting yesterday but China abstained, isolating Moscow further on the Ukraine crisis.

Russia vetoes US-sponsored UN resolution declaring Crimea vote invalid (RT)
Wang Yiwei: Four lessons to be learned from the Ukraine crisis (People’s Daily)

Ukraine has become the final battlefield in the “cold war”, and it is becoming a possibility that the crisis will trigger a second “cold war”. The Crimean parliament’s declaration of independence from Ukraine ahead of the March 16 referendum indicates that Crimea may go ahead and join Russia.

Peter Lee: From Kiev to Beijing … and Taipei (Asia Times)

A certain amount of attention, and rightly so, has been paid to the discomfiture of the People’s Republic of China (PRC) with Crimea unilaterally declaring independence from Ukraine. The PRC abstained on the UN Security Council condemnation of the vote, instead of supporting Russia with a “nay”. The PRC possesses or covets several significant territories whose inhabitants, if given the opportunity, might eagerly defy the One China policy to announce, organize, and pass a referendum of independence: Tibet, Xinjiang, Hong Kong, Inner Mongolia, Macau, and Taiwan.

Eric Li: Nothing awkward about China’s position with regard to Ukraine (South China Morning Post)

Israeli occupation locking Gaza Strip (Press TV)

Life in Gaza has been difficult. Most people living in a serious situation. From 2006 the population in the Gaza strip has been living under constant blockade.
Everything has been affected… now we talk about electricity, which we can have only 6 hours per day. The only power plant in the Gaza strip has been shut down.

Israel calls for ‘full reoccupation’ of Gaza Strip (Press TV)

Israeli Foreign Minister Avigdor Lieberman has called for the full reoccupation of the besieged Gaza Strip amid rising tensions in the region …
“Following an attack like this — a barrage of more than 50 rockets — there is no alternative to a full reoccupation of the entire Gaza Strip,” said the Israeli foreign minister.

AFP: Gaza’s Islamic Jihad says truce restored after Israel confrontation (Guardian)
AFP: Israeli troops shoot dead a Palestinian-Jordanian judge at border crossing (Guardian)

An Israeli army statement said “a Palestinian attempted to seize the weapon of a soldier at the Allenby Bridge crossing from Jordan”.
It continued: “In response the forces at the scene opened fire towards the suspect. A hit was identified.”

Israel ‘regrets’ killing Palestinian judge deemed ‘terrorist’ (RT)

Israel stated on Tuesday that it regretted the killing of a Palestinian judge working in Jordan who was gunned down by Israeli soldiers at a border crossing on Monday. Mere hours earlier, the Israeli military had branded him a ‘terrorist’.
“Israel regrets the death of Judge Raed Zeiter yesterday at the King Hussein (Allenby) bridge and expresses its sympathies to the people and government of Jordan,” Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s office said in a statement released on Tuesday.

Yahia Hamed: Egypt’s coup has plunged the country into catastrophe (Guardian)

Government employees have been in open revolt for weeks over the government’s failure to fulfil its promise for 6 million workers to have the minimum wage. Textile workers have been on strike, and in Cairo, public transport came to a complete halt recently when 38,000 bus drivers went on strike …
Undeterred, the government is now proceeding with the fire sale of Egypt’s once largest retail company, Omar Effendi, and thousands of its workers have been protesting, too. The public healthcare system has been virtually crippled by a doctors’ strike; they have now been joined by pharmacists, nurses and dentists. The regime’s response was to announce a “spectacular” discovery by one of their generals of a “cure” for HIV/Aids, hepatitis C and cancer – a bizarre attempt to gain popularity and distract attention from their own failures.

Chris Stephen: Navy Seals take over oil tanker seized by Libyan rebels (Guardian)

American Navy Seals have seized a North Korea-flagged tanker which had been loaded with crude oil at a rebel-held port in eastern Libya, the Pentagon said on Monday.
The operation to take control of the Morning Glory came a week after Libya failed to prevent the tanker from leaving the rebel-controlled eastern port of Es Sider loaded with an estimated $20m cargo, in a crisis that has brought the country to the brink of civil war…
The ship was operated by an Egypt-based company that was allowed to temporarily use the North Korean flag under a contract with Pyongyang, North Korean state news agency KCNA said on Wednesday.
Pyongyang had “cancelled and deleted” the ship’s North Korean registry, as it violated its law “on the registry of ships and the contract that prohibited it from transporting contraband cargo”.
“As such, the ship had nothing to do” with North Korea, which “has no responsibility whatsoever as regards the ship”, KCNA said.

Heiko Khoo: Theodor Bergmann: A revolutionary communist since 1927 (China.org.cn)

Iran | Congo–Rwanda–Uganda | Egypt | Venezuela | Germany

Julian Borger, Saeed Kamali Dehghan: Iran seals nuclear deal with west in return for sanctions relief (Guardian)

The difficulties facing the negotiators in the coming months were highlighted by the different interpretations Kerry and Zarif took on the fiercely disputed issue of whether the deal represented a recognition of Iran’s right to enrich uranium in principle. Zarif was insistent that it did because it was based on the nuclear non-proliferation treaty (NPT), which guarantees the right to a peaceful nuclear programme. Kerry said that neither the NPT nor Sunday’s deal specifies a right to enrichment.

The Treaty on the Non-Proliferation of Nuclear Weapons (Wikisource)

Nothing in this Treaty shall be interpreted as affecting the inalienable right of all the Parties to the Treaty to develop research, production and use of nuclear energy for peaceful purposes without discrimination …

Harriet Sherwood: Israel condemns Iran nuclear deal as ‘historic mistake’ (Guardian)

Ismael Hossein-Zadeh: Why the Iran Nuclear Talks Failed (CounterPunch)

The three day nuclear negotiations between Iran and the so-called P5+1 group of world powers that started on November 7th came to an unsuccessful end when, apparently, France balked at the proposed interim deal as not sufficiently controlling Iran’s nuclear technology. Whether the French objected independently or as part of a good cop bad cop game to sabotage the proposed deal is of secondary importance. The more important point is that Western nuclear powers backed-off from their own demands and proposals despite the fact that they represented a number of significant one-sided concessions by the Iranian negotiators.

Ann Garrison, Jean-Mobert N’Senga: Why is DRC “Negotiating” With M23, Not Rwanda and Uganda? (CounterPunch)

Anyone who’s paid any serious attention to the conflict between the Congolese army and the M23 militia in eastern Congo, knows that the M23 were never “Congolese rebels,” as AP, Reuters, and the rest of the corporate press have agreed to identify them. M23 has been fighting under Rwandan command, in consultation with top Ugandan officials, with support, recruits, and conscripts from Rwanda and Uganda, for the territorial claims of the Rwandan and Ugandan regimes, as were M23′s previous incarnations, the RCD and the CNDP. …
So why isn’t Congo at the table with Uganda and Rwanda, aside from the fact that Rwanda and Uganda have no legitimate territorial claims within the borders of the DRC? And/or the fact that Uganda and Rwanda are both longstanding “military partners” of the U.S., which makes the truth both inconvenient and embarrassing in Washington D.C.?

Sharif Abdel Kouddous, Nermeen Sheikh, Amy Goodman: As New Protest Law Looms, Egypt Faces Harsher Authoritarian Order Than the Revolution Overthrew (Democracy Now)

[T]he military and the Muslim Brotherhood have acted as two juggernauts in the Egyptian body politic. They’re both characterized by patriarchy and secrecy and mendacity, and they’ve both, you know, ripped apart Egypt’s social fabric as they struggle for power. And I think a lot of groups felt pushed out of this discourse when these two big juggernauts came to a clash, to a head. Morsi and the Brotherhood governed in a very majoritarian style. They alienated people across the political spectrum. They encouraged and wanted a brutal security sector. They encouraged the killing of protesters. And so, when the parts of the deep state, the police and the army, that they tried to placate—they really did try to bring them on their side and be a part of a new elite and harness the state instead of reform it—when those elements turned on them, there was no one standing by them. And so, people have been watching this killing. Of course, they condemn this level of violence, but it’s a very complicated and difficult situation right now in Egypt.

Chris Gilbert: Refrigerator Wars in Venezuela (CounterPunch)

Importers in Venezuela bring in goods with cheap dollars that they obtain through the state – dollars that come from the petroleum rent. They then mark up the goods 200% to 1000%. The government’s idea is to limit the markup to 30%.

Noam Chomsky, Chris Steele: There’s Always a Class War Going On (CounterPunch)

Well, there’s always a class war going on. The United States, to an unusual extent, is a business-run society, more so than others. The business classes are very class-conscious—they’re constantly fighting a bitter class war to improve their power and diminish opposition. Occasionally this is recognized.

Joachim Jachnow: What’s Become of the German Greens? (New Left Review)

Once pillars of the peace movement, Die Grünen are now cheerleaders for Western military intervention. Joachim Jachnow’s cursus vitae of the movement—diverse origins, ideological rifts, shifting social bases—explains the transformation.

Trademark Bully Jenzabar Ordered To Pay $500,000 In Attorney Fees Over Its Unrelenting Attack On Documentary Filmmakers (techdirt)

The central element of abuse of process is the use of litigation for an ulterior purpose — that is, a purpose other than to achieve relief for the wrong alleged. The overall record of this case leaves no doubt that that is exactly what Jenzabar did; it subjected Long Bow to protracted and costly litigation not to protect the good will of its trademark from misappropriation, but to suppress criticism of Jenzabar’s principals and its corporate practices. …
Jenzabar’s multiple and shifting legal and factual theories, asserted at the various stages of the case, support the same conclusion, as does its objection to pro hac vice admission of the lawyer who assumed Long Bow’s defense after it had exhausted its resources. In this regard, the differences in economic power between the parties is one of many circumstances that tends to confirm the conclusion that Jenzabar engaged in extortionate conduct, making this case exceptional.

Zimbabwe | Germany | Korea | USA

Roy Agyemang: Why a Robert Mugabe victory would be good for Zimbabwe (Guardian)

Kris sent this link:
Ingo Schmidt: German Politicians Take Aim at the Euro (The Bullet / Socialist Project) / Hauptwiderspruch Euro? (Sozialistische Zeitung)

Andre Vltchek: North Korea Celebrates 60th Anniversary of Victory (CounterPunch)
Melissa Hanham: North Korea’s Cuban Missile Crisis (38 North)

Yves Smith: Obama Starting to Lose It Over Snowden (naked capitalism)
Stephen Lendman: Temper Tantrum Politics (CounterPunch)
Pepe Escobar: Our man in Moscow (Asia Times)

Edward Snowden, under his new legal status in Russia, simply cannot be handed over to Bradley Manning’s lynch mob. Legally, Washington is now as powerless as a tribal Pashtun girl facing an incoming Hellfire missile.

Paul Craig Roberts: Provoking Russia (CounterPunch)
Melvyn A. Goodman: America’s Strange “Russian Problem” (CounterPunch)

Barry Grey: Obama’s press conference: The smiling face of a police state (WSWS)
Jerry Goldberg: Detroit bankruptcy: war on pensions! (Workers World)
Eric London, Barry Grey: Emergency Manager Kevyn Orr: Detroit workers were “dumb, lazy, happy and rich” / Konkursverwalter Kevyn Orr: Die Arbeiter von Detroit waren „dumm, faul, glücklich und reich“ (WSWS)

Roy Eidelson, Stephen Soldz: APA Fiddles While Psychology Burns. Hawai’ian Mind Games (CounterPunch)

As has been reported many times over the past decade, psychologists designed, implemented, supervised, researched, and provided ethical cover for abuses committed by the CIA and U.S. military. As a result, the APA has faced repeated calls to take action to prevent future abuses by members of the profession. …
The American Psychological Association had last held its annual meeting in Hawaii back in 2004. That’s the same year inspectors from the International Committee of the Red Cross visited the detention center at Guantanamo Bay and discovered a regime of psychological abuse “tantamount to torture.” That program was inspired by the recommendations of two psychologists who, just two months later, were advertising their CIA credentials as exhibitors at the APA convention in Honolulu. And that same weekend, nine years ago, an APA presidential citation was awarded to the former chief psychologist of that same Guantanamo facility, “for his exemplary balance of professional psychology and military leadership.”

Colombia | Egypt | Syria | Korea | “Fiscal Cliff”

Daniel Kovalik: The ICC and Colombia: Massacres Under the Looking Glass (CounterPunch)

Evan Hill, Ali Abdel Mohsen, Omar Halawa: Opposition forces gear towards a ‘no’ vote (Egypt Independent)
Esam al-Amin: Egypt’s Constitution, the Opposition, and the Dialogue of the Deaf (CounterPunch)
Alain Gresh: Gulf cools towards Muslim Brothers (Monde diplomatique)
Markus Bickel: Hamdin Sabbahi: „Der Geist der Revolution wird mit Füßen getreten“ (FAZ)

Paul Jay, Sami Ramadani: The Dangerous Global Consequences of a Syria Intervention (Tlaxcala)
Basel Dayoub: Syria: Religious Police Patrol Aleppo’s Countryside (al-Akhbar)

The Syrian opposition groups that have taken control of Aleppo’s countryside are deploying a religious police force to enforce new laws, such as barring women from driving and making prayer compulsory.

Bruce Cumings is a Korea specialist and one of the authors of Inventing the Axis of Evil: The Truth About North Korea, Iran, and Syria, a book we discussed a few years ago.
Park Hyun: Bruce Cumings says sanctions have failed, time for dialogue with North Korea (Hankoryeh)
Park Hyun: Bruce Cumings: Park likely to continue Lee administration’s NK policy (Hankoryeh)
And here’s an old, but interesting article by Cumings reviewing books on Korea by Bradley Martin and Jasper Becker, followed by a short exchange between Bruce Cumings and Roderick MacFarquhar:
Bruce Cumings: We look at it and see ourselves (London Review of Books)

Newk Mindshaftgab: The Fact-Free Fiscal Cliff Debate (CounterPunch)

The History of Budget Deficits and Economic Growth in Relation to Taxes and Unemployment

Historic ruling on Europe’s role in CIA renditions (Amnesty International)

On 31 December 2003, the Macedonian authorities arrested El-Masri, who is [a German citizen] of Lebanese descent, after he entered Macedonia from Serbia.
They held him incommunicado, subjecting him to enforced disappearance, repeated interrogations and to ill-treatment, until 23 January 2004 when they handed him over to Central Intelligence Agency (CIA) agents.
As part of the covert, US-led rendition and secret detention programme, the CIA transferred El-Masri to a secret detention facility in Afghanistan.
There he was held unlawfully in secret, not charged with any crime and his detention was not subject to judicial review. He did not have access to a lawyer. His whereabouts were not acknowledged and he was held incommunicado. As a result he was subjected to enforced disappearance for over four months. While in Afghanistan, he was subjected to torture and other ill-treatment.
On 28 May 2004, El-Masri was put on a plane and flown to Albania where he was released.

Ian Cobain: MoD pays out millions to Iraqi torture victims (Guardian)

The [British] Ministry of Defence has paid out £14m in compensation and costs to hundreds of Iraqis who complained that they were illegally detained and tortured by British forces during the five-year occupation of the south-east of the country.

Joshua Brollier: The Struggle for Land Rights Near the Gaza Border (MRzine)

Israeli Occupation Forces shot and wounded an unarmed 22-year-old farmer, Mohammed Qdeih, from behind. … Under the siege, Israeli “closed military zones” have confiscated up to 35 percent of Gaza’s arable land, which was previously used for fruit and olive orchards, wheat, and various vegetables. With nearly half of Gaza’s population designated as “food insecure” by the UN Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA) and the farming industry having been crippled from the inability to export products under the Israeli blockade, this land is essential for the livelihoods of thousands of farmers and residents of Gaza.

Eva Bartlett: Gaza fisherman jailed for serving Hamas coffee (Electronic Intifada)

Shortly after Israel and Hamas signed a ceasefire agreement on 21 November, the Israeli navy abducted thirty Palestinian fishermen from Gaza’s waters, destroyed and sank a Palestinian fishing vessel, and confiscated nine fishing boats in the space of four days.

Ali Abunimah: Israeli embassy’s Christmas message of hate: Bethlehem Palestinians would “lynch” Jesus and Mary as “Jews” (Electronic Intifada)

The offensiveness of the message needs no further elaboration, but Palestinian Christians in Bethlehem will find it particularly galling given that it is Israel, with its wall surrounding their city, and other violent manifestations of the occupation, which has done most to strangle the home of the Nativity. … For several years, Shimon Gapso, the notoriously racist mayor of the Israeli settlement of “Upper Nazareth” in the Galilee, has banned Christmas trees, calling them a provocation. …
This is not the first time the Israeli embassy in Dublin has been responsible for messages that are even more unhinged than typical Israeli government propaganda. In June, Nurit Tinari-Modai, the deputy ambassador, made headlines when she proposed a plan to personally smear Palestine solidarity activists – especially Israelis – to “humiliate and shame them” as suffering from psychological and sexual problems.

Death surge linked with mass privatisation (Oxford University)

As many as one million working-age men died due to the economic shock of mass privatisation policies followed by post-communist countries in the 1990s, according to a new study published in The Lancet … During the 1990s, former communist countries underwent the world’s worst peacetime mortality crisis in the past 50 years – with over three million avoidable deaths and 10 million ‘missing’ men, according to the United Nations.

Gaza | USA | human rights | India | anti-fascism

Ali Abunimah: How Israel shattered Gaza truce leading to escalating death and tragedy: a timeline (Electronic Intifada)
Juan Gonzales, Amy Goodman, Mohammed Omer, Gershon Baskin: “Nowhere to Run”: Israel Fires Over 500 Strikes in Gaza, Civilian Toll Grows in Humanitarian Crisis (Democracy Now)

“One thing that we ought to talk about here is the humanitarian situation in the Gaza Strip. This is a situation of targeting a population of civilians, exactly like Israel is shooting in a fishbowl. And there is no shelter, and there is nowhere to run for the general population. Gaza is living in a very dire situation.”

Juan Gonzales, Amy Goodman, Mohammed Omer, Gershon Baskin: Israeli Negotiator: Hamas Commander Was Assassinated Hours After Receiving Truce Deal from Israel (Democracy Now)
Patrick Higgins: Bloodbath in Gaza (CounterPunch)
Ali Abunimah: Inciting war crimes: Israel minister says force Gaza population into Egypt, cut off water, electricity (Electronic Intifada)
Neve Gordon: The Ideology of Hatred (CounterPunch)
Ali Abunimah: “May your children die, you dogs”: As Gaza burns, Israelis bay for blood in streets of Tel Aviv (Electronic Intifada)

Tavis Smiley, Cornel West on the 2012 Election & Why Calling Obama “Progressive” Ignores His Record (Democracy Now)
Tavis Smiley and Dr. Cornel West Call on Obama to Host a White House Conf. on Ending Poverty (Democracy Now)
Randall Amster: The Wrong Petraeus Scandal (CounterPunch)
Michel Roberts: Does it matter who wins? (blog)

Let’s put it this way. Would things have been any different in the US economy if Al Gore had beaten George Bush Jnr in 2000 after the great chad dispute? Would a Democratic president or administration have avoided the recession of 2001, the credit boom and housing bubble of 2002-7, the huge sub-prime and ‘financial weapons of mass destruction’ scandal, the banking crash and the ensuing Great Recession? When you ask the question, you know the answer. No.

Tariq Ali: The Triumph of Conservatism (CounterPunch)
Chris Floyd: Is This Child Dead Enough for You? (CounterPunch)
Katherine Gallagher: What’s the Point of Having Laws Against Torture if They Don’t Apply to the Powerful? (CounterPunch)

Daniel Kovalick: Amnesty International and the Human Rights Industry (CounterPunch)

Praful Bidwai, Perry Anderson: Sentimentalizing Gandhi (CounterPunch)

… five main arguments that run counter to conventional wisdom in India today. Firstly, that the idea of a subcontinental unity stretching back six thousand years is a myth. Secondly, that Gandhi’s injection of religion into the national movement was ultimately a disaster for it. Thirdly, that primary responsibility for Partition lay not with the Raj, but Congress. Fourthly, that Nehru’s legacy to Republic was far more ambiguous than his admirers will admit. Lastly, that Indian democracy is not contradicted by caste inequality, but rather enabled by it.

Perry Anderson: Gandhi Centre Stage / Why Partition? / After Nehru (London Review of Books)

Michael Sommer, Susann Witt-Stahl: Hayek oder Holzhacken (junge Welt)

Position. Die Einsicht, daß Antifaschismus und Antikapitalismus zusammengehören, droht verlorenzugehen. Teil I: Die Umdeutung des Faschismus zur Massenbewegung der Subalternen

Michael Sommer, Susann Witt-Stahl: Verschwinden in der Nebelregion (junge Welt)

Teil II (und Schluß): Die Antifa 2.0 und der Haß auf die Unterschichten

Palestine | EU | Syria | South Sudan | Iran

Yazan al-Saadi: Salman Abu Sitta: The Palestinian History Weapon (al-Akhbar)

Wilhelm Langthaler: EU may explode (soon) (Anti-Imperialist Camp)

Bassam Haddad: My 50 Minutes with Manaf (MERIP)
As’ad AbuKhalil: Syria: Shameful Performance of Western Media (al-Akhbar)
Interview mit der syrischen Opposition (Deutscher Friedensrat)
Steve Tamari: Against Orthodoxy: The Story of Alawi Origins (insidethemiddle)

Since the outbreak of the popular uprising in Syria last spring, the media have focussed on the Alawi minority which controls the levers of power in that country. Most often, one hears echoes of mainstream Sunni and Shi’i sources that Alawis represent a heretical or, at best, syncretic deviation from Muslim orthodoxy.

Jomana Farhat: Israel Siphons off Africa’s Nile (al-Akhbar)

Egyptian and Sudanese policy failures have lead to a looming strategic threat to both countries’ most important resources – the Nile. Israel has now signed an agreement with the South Sudanese authorities over rights to the country’s precious water source.

Pankaj Mishra: Why weren’t they grateful? (London Review of Books)

The American ambassador reported that Mossadegh was backed by 95 per cent of the population, and the shah told the visiting diplomat Averell Harriman that he dared not say a word in public against the nationalisation. Mossadegh felt himself to be carried along on the wings of history. … ‘There was disquiet across the white world,’ de Bellaigue writes, at Mossadegh’s ‘show of Oriental bad form’. The Foreign Office started a campaign to persuade the American public of the rightness of the British cause and the US press duly fell in with it. The New York Times and the Wall Street Journal compared Mossadegh to Hitler … The New York Times summed up the new imperial mood immediately after the coup: ‘Underdeveloped countries with rich resources now have an object lesson in the heavy cost that must be paid by one of their number which goes berserk with fanatical nationalism.’ … ‘We are not liberals like Allende and Mossadegh, whom the CIA can snuff out,’ Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, now Iran’s supreme leader, warned during the hostage crisis in 1979. So far he has been proved right.

Julie Wark: The history of the west is not the history of the world (Open Democracy)