Brazil | Austria | Greece | Myanmar | Poland | Israel

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Greece | USA | Israel/Palestine

Robert Hunziker: The Ugly Truth Behind the Greek Bailout (CounterPunch)

Christine Lagarde, the Queen of Troika and the Head Honcho of the IMF, on May 6th, threatened to pull the IMF out of the Greek rescue plan, with a straight face, calling it a “rescue plan.” Oh, please! …
Forget the fact that Greece is only 2% of Eurozone GDP. Regardless, a pushback against Troika-imposed austerity may ripple throughout the EU, as other anti-austerity parties, like Podemos in Spain, closely follows…
“The Greek people have been living through hell during the last six years, and unfortunately they trusted that Tsipras [PM] would put an end to the extreme austerity measures, which are combined with a total undemocratic regime. Unfortunately, instead of putting an end, he put his signature to a third memorandum, which is even worse than the previous two… People are back on the streets protesting for their rights and dignity because right now they’re being asked to pay taxes which amount to almost the totality of their revenue. They’re asked to give up their homes… They’re asked to surrender public property, which is privatized at very, very low prices. And, they’re also asked to give up democracy” (Zoe Konstantopoulou (40), lawyer and former, youngest ever, Speaker of Hellenic Parliament).
Here’s the Ugly Truth Behind Foul Greek Rescue Plan(s):
Some 95 percent of the 220 billion euros disbursed to Greece since the start of the financial crisis as loans from the bailout mechanism has been directed toward saving the European banks. In other words, about 210 billion euros was eventually channeled to the eurozone credit sector while just 5 percent ended up in state coffers, according to a very recent study by the European School of Management and Technology (ESMT) in Berlin.

And to fuel conspiracy theories: the EU was a CIA project.
Ambrose Evans-Pritchard: Euro-federalists financed by US spy chiefs (Telegraph)

Declassified American government documents show that the US intelligence community ran a campaign in the Fifties and Sixties to build momentum for a united Europe. It funded and directed the European federalist movement.
The documents confirm suspicions voiced at the time that America was working aggressively behind the scenes to push Britain into a European state. One memorandum, dated July 26, 1950, gives instructions for a campaign to promote a fully fledged European parliament. It is signed by Gen William J Donovan, head of the American wartime Office of Strategic Services, precursor of the CIA.

Linn Washington: 30 Years After MOVE: Law Enforcement Didn’t Learn Anything From One of America’s Worst Cases of Police Brutality (The Root)

On May 13, 1985, police in Philadelphia—Pennsylvania’s largest city—dropped a powerful bomb containing military C4 explosives on a house occupied by six children and seven adults.
That aerial assault 30 years ago is one of the worst incidents of police brutality in modern America.
The bomb, dropped from a state police helicopter, sparked a fire.
Philadelphia’s then-Police Commissioner Gregore Sambor, along with then-Fire Commissioner William Richmond, barred firefighters from battling that blaze, pursuing a bizarre strategy to use the fire as a tactical weapon to drive the occupants from their barricaded house. Police had sought to arrest four adults inside the building on seven charges ranging from disorderly conduct to possession of explosives.
That decision to “let the fire burn” allowed the blaze to roar into a firestorm.
The inferno incinerated 11 inside the bombed building, including five children ages 7 to 13. That inferno also destroyed 60 other homes in the West Philadelphia neighborhood, leaving 250 people homeless. All of those killed in that inferno ignited by police were black, as were those left homeless by the inferno’s destruction.

Amy Goodman, Juan González, Linn Washington, Mumia Abu-Jamal: MOVE Bombing at 30: “Barbaric” 1985 Philadelphia Police Attack Killed 11 & Burned a Neighborhood (Democracy Now)

Today [May 13th] marks the 30th anniversary of a massive police operation in Philadelphia that culminated in the helicopter bombing of the headquarters of a radical group known as MOVE. The fire from the attack incinerated six adults and five children, and destroyed 65 homes. Despite two grand jury investigations and a commission finding that top officials were grossly negligent, no one from city government was criminally charged. MOVE was a Philadelphia-based radical movement dedicated to black liberation and a back-to-nature lifestyle. It was founded by John Africa, and all its members took on the surname Africa.

Alan Yuhas: Philadelphia’s Osage Avenue police bombing, 30 years on: ‘This story is a parable’ (Guardian)
Rob Urie: Hillary Clinton and the End of the Democratic Party (CounterPunch)

Liberal incredulity at Charles Koch’s (Koch Bros.) recent (soft) endorsement of Hillary Clinton — assertions that is was either a non-sequitur or a ploy to discredit her, was to dismiss the endorsement without answering the question: what about Mrs. Clinton’s policies, or those of any other establishment Democrat for that matter, could inheritance babies, oil and gas industry magnates and long-term supporters of the radical Right like Mr. Koch possibly object to? Mr. Koch was simply saying out loud what anyone paying attention to American politics in recent decades already knows: the Democratic Party is the Party of Wall Street and of corporate America.

Jonathan Cook: The Anti-Semite’s Best Friend (CounterPunch)

It was an assessment no one expected from the deputy head of the Israeli military. In his Holocaust Day speech last week, Yair Golan compared current trends in Israel with Germany in the early 1930s, as Nazism took hold.
In today’s Israel, he said, could be recognised “the revolting processes that occurred in Europe … There is nothing easier than hating the stranger, nothing easier than to stir fears and intimidate.”
The furore over Golan’s remarks followed on the heels of a similar outcry in Britain at statements by former London mayor Ken Livingstone. He observed that Hitler had in practice been “supporting Zionism” in 1933 when the Nazis signed a transfer agreement, allowing some German Jews to emigrate to Palestine.
In their different ways both comments refer back to a heated argument among Jews that began a century or more ago about whether Zionism was a blessing or blight. Although largely overlooked today, the dispute throws much light on the Israeli-Palestinian conflict.

Jack Khoury: Israel Holding 10 Palestinian Journalists, Six of Them Without Charges (Haaretz; also via Google News)

Israel has arrested 19 Palestinian journalists since the latest wave of violence began in October, and 10 are still behind bars.
The Palestinian Authority accuses Israel of persecuting journalists in order to intimidate them. It noted that six of those detained are being held in administrative detention, without charges, and said it’s not even clear what they are suspected of.

Nir Hasson: Israel Seized Palestinian Family’s East Jerusalem Land Behind Its Back, Gave It to Settler NGO (Haaretz; also via Google News)

Israel expropriated land from an East Jerusalem Palestinian family without a tender and against the rules, then handed it over to Amana, an organization that works to establish settlements and outposts, Haaretz has learned.
Some months ago Amana began building a large office building on the land for its headquarters. Documents submitted for an administrative petition against the land transfer reveals that the state used strenuous bureaucratic acrobatics to deliver land that didn’t belong to it.
The plan was prepared and approved without the family knowing of the expropriation. The property map was redrawn to legitimize the expropriations, and related documents were hidden from the owners. The Jerusalem District Court rejected the Palestinian family’s petition, which is being appealed to the Supreme Court.

Brazil | Panama Papers | Nuclear Weapons | Greece | Israel/Palestine

Alfredo Saad-Filho: A Coup in Brazil? (Jacobin)

Brazil’s right is determined to remove Dilma Rousseff from power and cripple any movements to her left.

Glenn Greenwald, Andrew Fishman, David Miranda: Brazil Is Engulfed by Ruling Class Corruption — and a Dangerous Subversion of Democracy | O Brasil está sendo engolido pela corrupção – e por uma perigosa subversão da democracia (Intercept)
Amy Goodman, Nermeen Shaikh: Glenn Greenwald: Is It A Coup? What Is Happening in Brazil is Much Worse Than Donald Trump (Democracy Now)

Brazil is facing its worst political crisis in over two decades as opponents of Brazilian President Dilma Rousseff attempt to impeach her on corruption charges. But Rousseff is refusing calls to resign, saying the impeachment proceedings against her amount to undemocratic attempts by the right-wing opposition to oust her from power. On Wednesday, former Brazilian President Luiz Inácio Lula da Silva called the impeachment proceedings against Rousseff an attempted “coup d’état.”

Amy Goodman, Juan González, Andrew Fishman, Mark Weisbrot: Is the U.S. Backing Rousseff’s Ouster in Brazil? Opposition Holds Talks in D.C. as Obama Stays Quiet (Democracy Now)
Glenn Greenwald, Andrew Fishman, David Miranda: After Vote to Remove Brazil’s President, Key Opposition Figure Holds Meetings in Washington | Porque o Sen. Aloysio Nunes foi a Washington um dia depois da votação do impeachment? (Intercept)

Margaret Kimberley: The Panama Papers Problem (CounterPunch)

The Panama tax haven leaks reveal a lot about the lawlessness of the rich, as well as the ideological bias of the western press. “Vladimir Putin’s name appears nowhere, but the corporate media used his image repeatedly to drum up interest in what is an otherwise newsworthy story.” Americans are conspicuous by their absence from the story. That’s because rich people in the U.S. can avoid taxes “legally in Wyoming, Delaware or Nevada.” …
The documents now known as the Panama Papers were leaked to the German newspaper Suddeutsche Zeitung (SZ) who then shared them with the International Consortium of Investigative Journalists (ICIJ). ICIJ is a non-profit but with its own problematic origins. It is funded in part by the Ford Foundation, Open Society Foundation, Kellogg Foundation and the Rockefeller Family Fund. ICIJ then worked with journalists around the world including from the Guardian and the McClatchy newspaper chain. They in turn will decide what will be kept secret and what will be shared with the public. The goal of revealing secrets instead turns into a plan to keep more secrets and to tarnish certain reputations based on bias and mysterious criteria.
The Panama Papers show that the heads of state of Ukraine, Iceland, Argentina, Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates all held shell holding company accounts in different tax haven locations. Vladimir Putin’s name appears nowhere but the corporate media used his image repeatedly to drum up interest in what is an otherwise newsworthy story…
While news outlets ranging from the Guardian to the New York Times do their best to connect Putin to the Mossack Fonseca scandal without evidence, the prime minister of the United Kingdom and the president of Ukraine are directly involved.

John Pilger: A world war has begun. Break the silence. (johnpilger.com)

In 2009, President Obama stood before an adoring crowd in the centre of Prague, in the heart of Europe. He pledged himself to make “the world free from nuclear weapons”. People cheered and some cried. A torrent of platitudes flowed from the media. Obama was subsequently awarded the Nobel Peace Prize.
It was all fake. He was lying.
The Obama administration has built more nuclear weapons, more nuclear warheads, more nuclear delivery systems, more nuclear factories. Nuclear warhead spending alone rose higher under Obama than under any American president. The cost over thirty years is more than $1 trillion.
A mini nuclear bomb is planned. It is known as the B61 Model 12. There has never been anything like it. General James Cartwright, a former Vice Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, has said, “Going smaller [makes using this nuclear] weapon more thinkable.”
In the last eighteen months, the greatest build-up of military forces since World War Two—led by the United States—is taking place along Russia’s western frontier. Not since Hitler invaded the Soviet Union have foreign troops presented such a demonstrable threat to Russia.
Ukraine—once part of the Soviet Union—has become a CIA theme park. Having orchestrated a coup in Kiev, Washington effectively controls a regime that is next door and hostile to Russia: a regime rotten with Nazis, literally. Prominent parliamentary figures in Ukraine are the political descendants of the notorious OUN and UPA fascists. They openly praise Hitler and call for the persecution and expulsion of the Russian speaking minority…
In Latvia, Lithuania and Estonia — next door to Russia – the US military is deploying combat troops, tanks, heavy weapons. This extreme provocation of the world’s second nuclear power is met with silence in the West.
What makes the prospect of nuclear war even more dangerous is a parallel campaign against China.

Alastair Crooke: The ‘Hybrid War’ of Economic Sanctions (Consortium News)

U.S. politicians love the “silver bullet” of economic sanctions to punish foreign adversaries, but the weapon’s overuse is driving China and Russia to develop countermeasures.

Costas Lapavitsas, Daniel Munevar: SYRIZA, The IMF And The EU: Gambling With The Future Of Greece (Social Europe)

The latest flare up regarding Greece has followed publication by Wikileaks of illegally taped discussions among IMF officials. To analyse the significance of this event it is vital to bear one point in mind: Greece cannot meet the terms of the bailout agreement struck on July 2015 by Prime Minister, Alexis Tsipras. The agreement is effectively dead and all parties involved are aware of that, even if they are not openly admitting it…
[The] Greek government … signed up to the bailout in direct contravention of everything that it had promised to do in 2015. As the reality of its deception and the harshness of the squeeze have begun to sink in, electoral support for Tsipras has vanished.
All competent polls show the opposition New Democracy – with a new leader – comfortably ahead. The outlook has become even worse for SYRIZA via the refugee wave, which has turned Greece into a kind of EU repository for refugees and migrants…

Joshua Sperber: BDS, Israel, and the World System (Journal of Palestine Studies)
This article comes with a list of recommended reading:

  • Jonathan Nitzan, Shimshon Bichler: The Global Political Economy of Israel. London/Sterling: Pluto, 2002. (cf. gen.lib.rus.ec/book/…)
  • Abu-Manneh Bashir: “Israel in the U.S. Empire,” Monthly Review 58, no. 10 (March 2007).
  • Noam Chomsky: The Fateful Triangle: The United States, Israel, and the Palestinians. Boston: South End Press, 1983.
  • Gershon Shafir: Land, Labor, and the Origins of the Israeli–Palestinian Conflict, 1882–1914. Cambridge / New York: Cambridge University Press, 1989.
  • Joel Kovel: Overcoming Zionism: Creating a Single Democratic State in Israel/Palestine. London: Pluto Press, 1987. (chapter 5)
  • Laurence J. Silberstein (ed.) Postzionism: A Reader. New Brunswick: Rutgers University Press, 2008.
  • Ilan Pappe: A History of Modern Palestine: One Land, Two Peoples. Cambridge / New York: Cambridge University Press, 2004.

Jonathan Cook: Execution of Palestinian Exposes Israel’s Military Culture (CounterPunch)

It might have been a moment that jolted Israelis to their senses. Instead the video of an Israeli soldier shooting dead a young Palestinian man as he lay wounded and barely able to move has only intensified the tribal war dance of the Israeli public.
Last week, as the soldier was brought before a military court for investigation, hundreds of supporters protested outside. He enjoys vocal support too from half a dozen cabinet ministers, former army generals, rabbis and – according to opinion polls – a significant majority of the Israeli Jewish public…
The past six months has seen a wave of desperate attacks by Palestinians – mostly improvised, using knives and cars – to end the occupation. Some 190 Palestinians have been killed in this period.
A number of the incidents have been captured on film. In a shocking proportion, Palestinians – including children – have been shot dead even when they posed no threat to Israeli soldiers or civilians. In military parlance, this is called “confirming the kill”.
The latest video is distinctive not only because the evidence is so indisputable but because it exposes Israel’s wider military culture.
When the soldier took his shot, his comrades registered not the least surprise that their prisoner had just been executed.

Richard Silverstein: Israeli Minster Calls for “Civil Targeted Killings” of BDS Leaders (Tikkun Olam)

The Yediot Achronot conference attacking BDS has become a veritable carnival of hate. Everyone from delusional Hollywood celebrities (Roseanne Barr) to cabinet ministers, to the leader of the Opposition have pledged fealty to the cause. Two of the speakers are under criminal investigation for corrupt political or financial dealings.
But the apogee came yesterday when Intelligence Minister Israel Katz called for the “civil targeted killing” of BDS leaders like Omar Barghouti. The phrase he used (sikul ezrahi memukad) derives from the euphemistic Hebrew phrase for the targeted killing of a terrorist (the literal meaning is “targeted thwarting”). But the added word ” civil” makes it something different.

Ahmad al-Bazz: Palestinians protest surge in home demolitions by Israeli army (+972)

The Israeli army has displaced more Palestinians since the start of this year than it did in all of 2015, the UN reports. Dozens protest the fourth such demolition in Khirbet Tana in recent months.

Amy Goodman, Nermeen Shaikh, Eric Fair: Ex-Abu Ghraib Interrogator: Israelis Trained U.S. to Use “Palestinian Chair” Torture Device (Democracy Now)
Black Friday. Carnage in Rafah (Amnesty International)

There is overwhelming evidence that Israeli forces committed disproportionate, or otherwise indiscriminate, attacks which killed scores of civilians in their homes, on the streets and in vehicles and injured many more. This includes repeatedly firing artillery and other imprecise explosive weapons in densely populated civilian areas during the attacks on Rafah between 1 and 4 August [2014]. In some cases, there are indications that they directly fired at and killed civilians, including people fleeing.

Brazil | Greece | Panama Papers

Glenn Greenwald, Andrew Fishman, David Miranda: Brazil Is Engulfed by Ruling Class Corruption — and a Dangerous Subversion of Democracy (Intercept)

Brazil’s extraordinary political upheaval shares some similarities with the Trump-led political chaos in the U.S.: a sui generis, out-of-control circus unleashing instability and some rather dark forces, with a positive ending almost impossible to imagine. The once-remote prospect of President Dilma Rousseff’s impeachment now seems likely.
But one significant difference with the U.S. is that Brazil’s turmoil is not confined to one politician. The opposite is true, as Romero notes: “almost every corner of the political system [is] under the cloud of scandal.” That includes not only Rousseff’s moderately left-wing Workers Party, or PT — which is rife with serious corruption — but also the vast majority of the centrist and right-wing political and economic factions working to destroy PT, which are drowning in at least an equal amount of criminality. In other words, PT is indeed deeply corrupt and awash in criminal scandal, but so is virtually every political faction working to undermine it and vying to seize that party’s democratically obtained power…
Put simply, this is a campaign to subvert Brazil’s democratic outcomes by monied factions that have long hated the results of democratic elections, deceitfully marching under an anti-corruption banner: quite similar to the 1964 coup. Indeed, much of the Brazilian right longs for restoration of the military dictatorship, and factions at these “anti-corruption” protests have been openly calling for the end of democracy.
None of this is a defense of PT. Both because of genuine widespread corruption in that party and national economic woes, Dilma and PT are intensely unpopular among all classes and groups, even including the party’s working-class base. But the street protests — as undeniably large and energized as they have been — are driven by those who are traditionally hostile to PT.

Julian Assange: Destroy Greece: ΙΜF and Europe disagree on the method! (Defend Democracy Press)

Today, 2nd April 2016, WikiLeaks publishes the records of a 19 March 2016 teleconference between the top two IMF officials in charge of managing the Greek debt crisis – Poul Thomsen, the head of the IMF’s European Department, and Delia Velkouleskou, the IMF Mission Chief for Greece. The IMF anticipates a possible Greek default co-inciding with the United Kingdom’s referendum on whether it should leave the European Union (‘Brexit’).
“This is going to be a disaster” remarks Velkouleskou in the meeting.
According to the internal discussion, the IMF is planning to tell Germany that it will abandon the Troika (composed of the IMF, European Commission and the European Central Bank) if the IMF and the Commission fail to reach an agreement on Greek debt relief…
In August the IMF announced it would not participate in last year’s €86 billion Greek bailout, which was covered by EU member states. IMF Chief Christine Lagarde stated at the time that the IMF’s future participation was contingent on Greece receiving “significant debt relief” from creditors. Lagarde announced that a team would be sent to Greece, headed by Velkouleskou.
Thomsen said internally that the threat of an imminent financial catstrophe is needed to force the other players into a “decision point”. For Germany, on debt relief, and In the case of Greece, to accept the IMF’s austerity “measures,” — including raising taxes and cutting Greek pensions and working conditions.

Juliette Garside, Holly Watt, David Pegg: The Panama Papers: how the world’s rich and famous hide their money offshore (Guardian)

The hidden wealth of some of the world’s most prominent leaders, politicians and celebrities has been revealed by an unprecedented leak of millions of documents that show the myriad ways in which the rich can exploit secretive offshore tax regimes…
Twelve national leaders are among 143 politicians, their families and close associates from around the world known to have been using offshore tax havens…
The families of at least eight current and former members of China’s supreme ruling body, the politburo, have been found to have hidden wealth offshore.

The Panama Papers. Politicians, Criminals and the Rogue Industry That Hides Their Cash (International Consortium of Investigative Journalists)
Panama Papers. Die Geheimnisse des schmutzigen Geldes (Süddeutsche Zeitung)
Corporate Media Gatekeepers Protect Western 1% From Panama Leak (Craig Murray)

Whoever leaked the Mossack Fonseca papers appears motivated by a genuine desire to expose the system that enables the ultra wealthy to hide their massive stashes, often corruptly obtained and all involved in tax avoidance. These Panamanian lawyers hide the wealth of a significant proportion of the 1%, and the massive leak of their documents ought to be a wonderful thing.
Unfortunately the leaker has made the dreadful mistake of turning to the western corporate media to publicise the results. In consequence the first major story, published today by the Guardian, is all about Vladimir Putin and a cellist on the fiddle. As it happens I believe the story and have no doubt Putin is bent.
But why focus on Russia? Russian wealth is only a tiny minority of the money hidden away with the aid of Mossack Fonseca. In fact, it soon becomes obvious that the selective reporting is going to stink.
The Suddeutsche Zeitung, which received the leak, gives a detailed explanation of the methodology the corporate media used to search the files. The main search they have done is for names associated with breaking UN sanctions regimes. The Guardian reports this too and helpfully lists those countries as Zimbabwe, North Korea, Russia and Syria. The filtering of this Mossack Fonseca information by the corporate media follows a direct western governmental agenda. There is no mention at all of use of Mossack Fonseca by massive western corporations or western billionaires – the main customers. And the Guardian is quick to reassure that “much of the leaked material will remain private.”
What do you expect? The leak is being managed by the grandly but laughably named “International Consortium of Investigative Journalists”, which is funded and organised entirely by the USA’s Center for Public Integrity. Their funders include

  • Ford Foundation
  • Carnegie Endowment
  • Rockefeller Family Fund
  • W K Kellogg Foundation
  • Open Society Foundation (Soros)

among many others. Do not expect a genuine expose of western capitalism. The dirty secrets of western corporations will remain unpublished.

Robert Mackey: Panama Papers Leak Sparks Protests in Iceland Over Prime Minister’s Secret Finances (Intercept)

Glenn Greenwald: Fighting Israeli Occupying Forces Is “Terrorism.” Boycotting Is “Anti-Semitism.” What’s Allowed? (Intercept)

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 | Saudi Arabia

James K. Galbraith: The IMF’s botched attempt to help (Bangkok Post)
James K. Galbraith: Europe’s malpractice of Greece / Der griechische Patient (Deutsche Welle)

Europe’s financial hospital has been busy for five years, dealing with victims of the world crisis and of the lending binge that came before it. Ireland, Portugal, Spain and (to a degree) Italy have filled the beds. They have taken the medicine, and followed the prescribed routine. Not one has fully recovered. But then again, none of those countries were ever lethally sick – at the worst, they suffered declines of 5 to 10 percent of GDP, and have been more or less stable for the past few years.
Greece is a special case. She was a weak patient to begin with. Her institutions were not strong. Her industries were not competitive. She binged on those pre-crisis loans. And when the collapse came, Europe and the International Monetary Fund (IMF) prescribed an exceptional dose of the standard drugs – perhaps three times more than was given to anyone else. The results were toxic. Greece has lost over a quarter of her income, she has 29 percent unemployment and her government has no cash reserves.
In any modern hospital, this patient would be on life support. Transfusions would be given. Intra-venous hydration, a feeding tube and an oxygen mask would be supplied…
But today’s Europe is a hospital with no ICU. Instead, the doctors have kept the patient in the ordinary ward. Every few days, they come in and check the charts. They see that there has been no change. And so they lecture the patient. She must exercise! She must take still more of the medicine! She must not expect special treatment! After all, they point out, look at the other patients! See how much better they are doing! And on and on…
After five years of this, with death in sight, the Greek people have decided to reject the treatments. They have asked, over the past four months, for meetings with the hospital directors, to see if the protocols can be changed. They have been told, no, not unless your doctors agree. But the doctors do not like to have their authority challenged. And just imagine – they report back to their chiefs – what would happen if we agreed? Soon the other patients might get ideas; think of what that would cost! So the treatments remain the same and the results get worse.

Paul Krugman: Avoiding Apocalypse (New York Times)

[W]hat if Greece abandons the euro and issues its own currency to keep cash flowing?
For sure there would be a sharp devaluation, which would lead to a spike in inflation. But would hyperinflation follow? Remember that Greece is running a large cyclically adjusted primary surplus — that is, given even a modest economic recovery it would not need to roll the printing presses to pay its bills. And a a devaluation would, other things equal, promote recovery.
I know that many people are telling stories about immediate collapse due to inability to buy raw materials, complete failure of exports to respond, and so on. They could be right. But I actually can’t think of any historical examples that fit this story — in particular, all the hyperinflations I know about involved governments too weak to collect taxes, and believe it or not, that’s not true of Greece despite all you’ve heard.

Buying Silence: How the Saudi Foreign Ministry controls Arab media (Wikileaks)

Documents reveal the extensive efforts to monitor and co-opt Arab media, making sure to correct any deviations in regional coverage of Saudi Arabia and Saudi-related matters. Saudi Arabia’s strategy for co-opting Arab media takes two forms, corresponding to the “carrot and stick” approach, referred to in the documents as “neutralisation” and “containment”. The approach is customised depending on the market and the media in question.

Report of the Independent Commission of Inquiry on the 2014 Gaza Conflict (United Nations Commissioner on Human Rights)

The United Nations Independent Commission of Inquiry on the 2014 Gaza conflict has gathered substantial information pointing to the possible commission of war crimes by both Israel and Palestinian armed groups.
“The extent of the devastation and human suffering in Gaza was unprecedented and will impact generations to come,” the chair of the commission, Justice Mary McGowan Davis told a press briefing today, adding that, “there is also on-going fear in Israel among communities who come under regular threat”.
The 2014 hostilities saw a huge increase in firepower used in Gaza, with more than 6,000 airstrikes by Israel and approximately 50,000 tank and artillery shells fired. In the 51 day operation, 1,462 Palestinian civilians were killed, a third of them children. Palestinian armed groups fired 4,881 rockets and 1,753 mortars towards Israel in July and August 2014, killing 6 civilians and injuring at least 1,600.

Amira Hass: In Israel, we walk amongst killers and torturers / לווליד דקה (Haaretz)

In our homes, our streets and our places of work and entertainment, there are thousands of people who killed and tortured thousands of other people or supervised their killing and torture. I write “thousands” as a substitute for the vaguer “countless” – an expression for something that cannot be measured.
The vast majority of those who kill and torture (now as well) are proud of their deeds, and their society and families are proud of their deeds – although usually it’s impossible to find a direct link between the names of the dead and the tortured and the names of those who kill and torture, and even when it is possible, it’s forbidden. It’s also forbidden to say “murderers.” And it’s forbidden to write “lowlifes” or “cruel people.”
Me, cruel? After all, our hands aren’t covered with blood when we push the button that drops a bomb on a building housing 30 members of a single family. Lowlife? How can we use that word to describe a 19-year-old soldier who kills a 14-year-old boy who went outside to pick an edible plant? …
Every night, on average, the IDF conducts 12 routine raids. For the Palestinians, every nighttime raid, which often entails the use of stun grenades and gas and shooting, is a mini terror attack.

Greece | Palestine/Israel | South Africa | Russia | Iraq

Stathis Kouvelakis: The Reality of Retreat (Jacobin)

Syriza’s deal with Greece’s creditors hasn’t bought more time or avoided austerity. It’s demobilized Greek workers.

Illusions about a two-state solution in the “Holy Land” shattered once again:
AP: Israel’s new deputy foreign minister: ‘This land is ours. All of it is ours’ (Guardian)
Patrick Strickland: “This land is ours,” says Israel’s top diplomat, citing religious texts (Electronic Intifada)

Tzipi Hotovely, Israel’s new deputy foreign minister, vowed to continue building Jewish-only settlements across the occupied West Bank, including East Jerusalem, in a recent speech to ministry employees…
Hotovely’s statements are nothing new, and she has in the past been outspoken about her expansionist designs. In 2013, while serving as deputy transportation minister, she accused her colleagues in the Likud party of exhibiting what she called “schizophrenia.”
Denouncing negotiations towards a two-state solution between Israel and the West Bank-based Palestinian Authority, she reasserted her support for annexation. “Members of our movement [Likud] never agreed to found a Palestinian state.”
“The existence of Jordan is a historic compromise,” she added, recycling a frequent Zionist talking point that Jordan should serve as a national homeland for Palestinians. “Whoever believes in the Greater Land of Israel has never been prepared to give parts of our homeland away for any purpose, not even for peace.” …
Objecting to Hotovely’s plan to annex the whole West Bank and to force Palestinians to accept Israeli citizenship, her fellow Likud member Eli Hazan said: “I’m a Jewish racist, and I’m not embarrassed to say I want a Jewish state with a Jewish majority.”
Hazan’s comments reflect a common argument among many liberal and, to a lesser extent, right-wing Zionists who cite Palestinian birthrates as a “ticking time bomb” or “demographic threat” that could undo Israel’s Jewish majority.

Hotovely: Land of Israel belongs to the Jews (Yedioth Ahronoth)

New Deputy Foreign Minister Tzipi Hotovely on Thursday told ministry employees that all of the Land of Israel belongs to the Jews, and that Israel had no need to apologize for that.
“Many times it seems that in our international relations, more than emphasizing the rightness of our cause, we are asked to use arguments that play well diplomatically,” she said in a speech broadcast to Israel’s 106 representations abroad. “But at a time when the very existence of Israel is being called into question, it is important to be right.”…
The deputy minister ended her comments by quoting from Rashi, the famed medieval Talmud commentator, on the first line of the Torah:
“Rashi says the Torah opens with the story of the creation of the world so that if the nations of the world come and tell you that you are occupiers, you must respond that all of the land belonged to the creator of world and when he wanted to, he took from them and gave to us,” she quoted from the commentary.

Lahav Harkov: Hotovely laments Likud ‘schizophrenia’ on two states (Jerusalem Post)
World may find Israel’s new deputy foreign minister hard to swallow (Haaretz)
Herb Keinon: Hotovely as deputy FM won’t make Israel’s position in the world any easier (Jerusalem Post)

This is an account of the 2012 strike at the Marikana Lonmin platinum mine in South Africa, and the massacre that ended it, with some details on the transformation of the African National Congress and its allies from a liberation movement to a ruling party, the big unions, and on the role of leaders like Cyril Ramaphosa and Julius Malema.
Nick Davies: Marikana massacre: the untold story of the strike leader who died for workers’ rights (Guardian)

On 16 August 2012, South African police opened fire on a large crowd of men who had walked out on strike from a platinum mine at Marikana, about 80 miles north of Johannesburg. They shot down 112 of them, killing 34. In any country, this would have been a traumatic moment. For South Africa, it was a special kind of nightmare, since it revived images of massacres by the state in the old apartheid era, with one brutal difference – this time it was predominantly black policemen, with black senior officers working for black politicians, who were doing the shooting.
In response, President Jacob Zuma appointed a commission of inquiry, chaired by a retired judge, Ian Farlam, which eventually sat in public for a total of 293 days, hearing evidence from miners, their bosses and the police, and reviewing video, audio and paper records of the shooting and of the seven-day strike that preceded it. At the end of March this year, the commission delivered its report to Zuma, who so far has failed to publish its conclusions. Those who may find themselves accused of colluding in the police action include not only senior figures from the ruling African National Congress but also Lonmin, the British company that owns the Marikana mine.

David Smith: ANC absent from Marikana massacre memorial ceremony (Guardian)
David Smith: Simmering frustration at justice denied a year after Marikana (Guardian)
Greg Nicolson: Two years after Marikana massacre, families still wait for justice (Guardian)

Yet Another Huge Diplomatic Victory for Russia (Information Clearing House)

Unless you read Russian or monitor the free blogosphere, you might not have noticed this, but something big just happened in Russia: Kerry, Nuland and a large State Department delegation have traveled to Sochi were they met with Foreign Minister Lavrov and then with President Putin. With the latter they spent over 4 hours. Not only that, but Kerry made a few rather interesting remarks, saying that the Minsk-2 Agreement (M2A) was the only way forward and that he would strongly caution Poroshenko against the idea of renewing military operations.

F. William Engdahl: What if Putin is Telling the Truth? (New Eastern Outlook)

Matt Taibbi: Forget What We Know Now: We Knew Then the Iraq War Was a Joke (Rolling Stone)

So presidential hopeful Jeb Bush is taking a pounding for face-planting a question about his brother’s invasion of Iraq. Apparently, our national media priests want accountability from leaders on this issue…
But the substance of most of the media mockery in the last week was to whale on Jeb for not admitting quickly enough that the war, in hindsight, given “what we know now,” was a huge mistake.
We can call this the “None of us pundits would have been wrong about Iraq if it wasn’t for Judith Miller” line of questioning. This rhetoric goes something like this: since we invaded, the war has gone epically FUBAR, so it’s obvious now that it was a mistake, and so we can mock you for not admitting as much.
But because of Judith Miller, it wasn’t obvious even to all of us geniuses back then, which is why virtually every media outlet to the right of Democracy Now! (MSNBC included, as old friend Alex Pareene wittily pointed out) got it wrong for years on end, back when this issue actually mattered.
Go back up a few paragraphs and look at that list of media outlets. All of them – the Washington Post, the Wall Street Journal, the New York Times obviously, the Chicago Tribune – they were all card-carrying Iraq war cheerleaders…
Now a lot of these same people are green-lighting stories about how wrong Jeb Bush is for not admitting to what is at last obvious, “knowing what we know now.” But forget what we know now. We knew then, but we’re just not admitting it.

Amy Goodman, Nermeen ShaykhMatt Taibbi on the Journalist & Politician Cheerleaders for Iraq War, Then & Now (Democracy Now)
Greg Sargent: Stop sanitizing the history of the run-up to Iraq War (Washington Post)

[T]his whole line of questioning for Jeb [Bush], while creating untold problems for him, is also having the unintended effect of airbrushing out of the picture some really crucial historical facts about the run-up to the Iraq War. And those historical facts indict the woeful performance of Democrats such as Hillary Clinton as well as Republicans, which means that both parties have a strong incentive not to revive them.

Paul Krugman: Lies, Not Mistakes, Led to Invasion of Iraq (TruthOut)

Jeb Bush definitely did us a favor: In attempting not to talk about the past, he ended up bringing back the discussion of the Iraq war, which many political and media figures have been trying to avoid. And of course they’re still trying to avoid it – they want to make sure this just about the horse race, or about the hypothetical question of “if you knew what we know now.”
But that formulation is itself an evasion, as Josh Marshall, Greg Sargent and Duncan Black have pointed out – each making a slightly different but crucial point.
First, as Mr. Marshall, the editor of Talking Points Memo, recently wrote, the Iraq invasion was not a good faith mistake. President George W. Bush and Vice President Dick Cheney didn’t sit down with the intelligence community, ask for its best assessment of the situation and then reluctantly conclude that war was the only option. They decided right at the beginning – even before the dust of 9/11 had settled – to use a terrorist attack by religious extremists as an excuse to go after a secular regime that, evil as it was, had nothing to do with that attack.

Dartagnan: George W. Bush Did Something Much Worse Than Lie Us Into War (Daily Kos)

We’ve been lied into wars before, with similar disastrous results. But George W. Bush did something far worse than lie us into a war: he did it in a breathtakingly cynical and malevolent way–in effect, by holding a gun to every Americans’ head and threatening to pull the trigger. He did it by holding us—all of us—hostage to a twisted ideology that demanded the war, waving the gun at calculated intervals in our face, the way any terrorist would. And he told us flat out, over and over again, that if we didn’t do what he said, we’d all be killed.

Eduardo Porter: A Call to Look Past Sustainable Development (New York Times)

The average citizen of Nepal consumes about 100 kilowatt-hours of electricity in a year. Cambodians make do with 160. Bangladeshis are better off, consuming, on average, 260.
Then there is the fridge in your kitchen. A typical 20-cubic-foot refrigerator — Energy Star-certified, to fit our environmentally conscious times — runs through 300 to 600 kilowatt-hours a year.
American diplomats are upset that dozens of countries — including Nepal, Cambodia and Bangladesh — have flocked to join China’s new infrastructure investment bank, a potential rival to the World Bank and other financial institutions backed by the United States.
The reason for the defiance is not hard to find: The West’s environmental priorities are blocking their access to energy.

History and food for thought:
Harvey Klehr: America’s top communists of all time (Washington Post)

Earl Browder, Woody Guthrie, W.E.B. DuBois, William Foster and Jay Lovestone, J. Robert Oppenheimer, Alger Hiss and Whittaker Chambers, Paul Robeson, Elizabeth Bentley, John Reed, Julius and Ethel Rosenberg, Howard Fast, Eugene Dennis and Gus Hall

Dylan Matthews: The Washington Post picked its top American Communists. Wonkblog begs to differ (Washington Post)

James P. Cannon, Max Shachtman, James Burnham, Max Eastman, Bayard Rustin, Hilary Putnam, Bernardine Dohrn and Bill Ayers, Pete Seeger, Harry Haywood, Harry Dexter White and [last but not least] Angela Davis

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.