France | USA

Glenn Greenwald, Nermeen Shaikh, Amy Goodman: “Shameless” U.S. Officials Exploit Paris Attacks to Defend Spying & Attack Snowden (Democracy Now)

As France and Belgium move to expand state power in the aftermath of the Paris attacks, top U.S. officials have renewed a push to defend mass surveillance and dismiss those who challenge it. On Wednesday, FBI Director James Comey said intelligence and law enforcement officials need to have access to encrypted information on smartphones, despite no evidence that the Paris attackers used encryption. Meanwhile, others have used the Paris attacks to criticize NSA whistleblower Edward Snowden. In recent days, CIA Director John Brennan has suggested revelations about mass spying have made it harder to find terrorists, while former CIA Director James Woolsey has said Snowden has blood on his hands. “We have not heard such blatant, shameless lying from intelligence and military officials since 2002 and 2003 when they propagandized the country into invading Iraq based on utterly false pretenses,” says The Intercept’s Glenn Greenwald, the Pulitzer-winning journalist who exposed NSA mass surveillance based on Snowden’s leaks.

Amy Goodman, Nermeen Shaikh: Glenn Greenwald on “Submissive” Media’s Drumbeat for War and “Despicable” Anti-Muslim Scapegoating (Democracy Now)
Grey Anderson: The French Emergency (Jacobin)

From Algeria to the Paris attacks, French elites have used state of emergency legislation to consolidate power and repress dissent.

Ian Birchall: The Wrong Kind of Secularism (Jacobin)

The French secular ideal of laïcité is not a misused noble idea — it is deeply flawed at its roots…
Today laïcité serves as a justification for a variety of things — from banning headscarf-wearing mothers from accompanying their children on school outings to telling Muslim and Jewish schoolchildren that they must eat pork or go hungry.
But laïcité is not simply an idea that has been appropriated by the Right for political or cultural ends; it is also a value claimed by the Left, even the far left…
In 1886 Lafargue published a satire entitled La Religion du capital (The Religion of Capital). He imagined a conference in London with economic and political representatives of European capitalism — Clemenceau, Rothschild, Gladstone, Herbert Spencer, von Moltke, etc. Among those attending were Ferry and Paul Bert, who as education minister had been one of Ferry’s main allies in establishing laïcité. Their concern was to enable the survival of capitalism. And for that, a religion of some sort was required…
Some of the sharpest criticism of laïcité came from the anarchist and syndicalist currents; the anarchist position could be summed up as “neither the church nor the state.” As Sébastien Faure put it, the Christian school was “organised by the Church and for it, while the “école laïque” was “organised by the state and for it.” He counterposed the idea of “the school of the future . . . organised for the child.” André Lorulot put it rather more crudely, calling state schoolteachers “intellectual cops of the capitalist class.”…
Despite some opposing voices, laïcité largely achieved its goal of solidifying a national identity backed by military might…
The traditions of criticism of laïcité persisted after the First World War. The journal Clarté, close to but not entirely controlled by the Communist Party, reported on educational developments in post-revolutionary Russia that might offer an alternative to church or state education. An educational conference held in Moscow in 1919, for instance, dismissed academic neutrality and laïcité as a “mug’s game” (attrape-nigaud) designed to serve the interests of the bourgeoisie…
Today, with the concept being used in the service of Islamophobia, it is especially important to knock laïcité down from its elevated status. And that requires understanding laïcité not as a noble ideal that has been misinterpreted and distorted, but as deeply flawed from the outset.

The media after Paris: from fear to loathing, by way of made-up facts (Guardian)

Anti-immigration sentiment across Europe begins to make more sense when you realise that Brits and Spaniards think they have twice as many immigrants in their country as they actually do, the Italians, Belgians and French assume there are three times as many as there are, the Hungarians eight times and the Poles more than 30 times.

Gilbert Achcar: France Returns to the State of Exception (Jacobin)

The discourse of war is already upon us. But it must be resisted.

Don’t let them use Paris as a pretext! (International Action Center)
John Catalinotto: Historic crimes of the French military (International Action Centre)

Many young people in Paris were innocent victims of the Nov. 13 attack, but that doesn’t mean that the French imperialist state is innocent. While the 1789 French Revolution raised the idealistic slogans of liberty, equality and fraternity, French imperialism, which developed from that bourgeois revolution, has a bloody history across the world…
When imperialist France had just emerged from German occupation after World War II, the Arab and Berber peoples began carrying out mass demonstrations and uprisings in Algeria against French colonial rule. To suppress that rebellion, for several days French troops and police, acting on orders from the French president issued on May 8, 1945, massacred as many as 45,000 Algerians who peacefully demonstrated in the cities of Setif, Guelma and Kherrata. The French occupiers killed as many as a million Algerians trying to hold onto that nation, until the people finally won their liberation in 1962.
In 1947, French colonial troops slaughtered 89,000 people to “pacify” a rebellion in Madagascar, an African island in the Indian Ocean. During the long French war in Indochina, the French military killed many more Vietnamese, Laotians, Cambodians and some Chinese until French imperialism was finally driven out in 1954.
Even in Paris itself, on Oct. 17, 1961, French police opened fire on a demonstration of 30,000 Algerians, killing between 70 and 300 people …
This history of imperialist military intervention continues. French jets are bombing today in Syria and Iraq, along with the U.S.-led “coalition.” French jets opened the air war against Libya in 2011, leading NATO’s barbaric destruction of that country.

Mass Surveillance Isn’t the Answer to Fighting Terrorism (New York Times)

It’s a wretched yet predictable ritual after each new terrorist attack: Certain politicians and government officials waste no time exploiting the tragedy for their own ends. The remarks on Monday by John Brennan, the director of the Central Intelligence Agency, took that to a new and disgraceful low…
It is hard to believe anything Mr. Brennan says.

The Drone Papers (Intercept)

The Intercept has obtained a cache of secret documents detailing the inner workings of the U.S. military’s assassination program in Afghanistan, Yemen, and Somalia. The documents, provided by a whistleblower, offer an unprecedented glimpse into Obama’s drone wars.

Nicole Aschoff, Connor Kilpatrick, Paul Heideman: The Socialism of Bernie Sanders (Jacobin)

The novelty of Bernie Sanders has long been his adoption of the term “democratic socialist” to describe his political beliefs. On the presidential campaign trail, by way of definition, he’s repeatedly pointed to European countries with relatively robust welfare states.
On Thursday, in a major campaign address, he turned back stateside. Sanders cast himself not as the heir of Eugene Debs — a portrait of whom hangs in his congressional office — but of Franklin Roosevelt. In short, for Sanders, democratic socialism means New Deal liberalism.

Refugees | Venezuela | Palestine/Israel | France

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Ukraine | Hungary | Palestine–Israel

Boris Kagarlitsky: The logic of a revolt (Links) / Логика восстания (rabkor.ru) / Die Logik des Aufstands (kommunisten.de)

The main trigger for the revolt …, was not the pro-Russian sympathies of the local population, or even the declared intention of the Kiev rulers of repealing the law that had given Russian the status of a “regional language”. Discontent had long been building up in the south-east, and the final drop that caused the cup to spill over was the dramatic worsening of the economic crisis that followed the change of government in Kiev. After signing their agreement with the International Monetary Fund, the authorities decreed steep rises in the charges for gas and medicines, and a social explosion became inevitable. In the west of the country and in the capital, growing indignation was restrained for a time through the use of nationalist rhetoric and anti-Russian propaganda. But when applied to the inhabitants of the east, this method had the reverse effect. Trying to douse the fire in the west, the authorities poured oil on the flames in the east.

Mike Head: Washington responsible for fascist massacre in Odessa (World Socialist Website)
Ulrich Heyden: Die Tragödie von Odessa (Telepolis)
Martin S. Lambeck, Alexander Rackow: Agenten von CIA & FBI beraten Kiew (Bild)
AFP: CIA, FBI agents ‘advising Ukraine government (Yahoo News)
Barry Grey: New York Times covers up fascist atrocity in Odessa (World Socialist Website)
Peter Schwarz: The German media and the massacre in Odessa / Das Massaker von Odessa und die Gleichschaltung der deutschen Medien (World Socialist Website)

Jaroslav Fiala, Gáspár Miklós Tamás: Hungary: A Black Hole on Europe’s Map (Bullet)
The English translation deviates somewhat from the Czech original:
Stát skinheadů jako budoucnost Evropy? (A2) / Ungaria: O gaură neagră pe harta Europei (CriticAtac)
Tamás is a Hungarian-Romanian professor of philosophy, former MP for the Alliance of Free Democrats (Szabad Demokraták Szövetsége, SZDSZ), recipient of the Soros Foundation Lifetime Achievement Award, now leader of the Green Left Party (Zöld Baloldal Párt, ZB) and the anti-globalisation group ATTAC in Hungary. For some background on his political thinking, see this interview:
Words from Budapest (New Left Review) / Několik slov z Budapešti (A2)
And this exchange with Andrei Pleşu:
Andrei Pleşu: Cu stînga pe dreapta călcînd / The Left treading on the Right (Dilema veche)
Gáspár Miklós Tamás: O scrisoare către Andrei Pleşu / A response to Andrei Plesu (Dilema veche)
Andrei Pleşu: Cîteva comentarii la G.M. Tamas / Some comments to G.M. Tamás (Dilema veche)

Ali Abunimah: Asked about Kerry, Tutu says Israel “mirror image” of apartheid (Electronic Intifada)

I’m glad people have come to have this disgust about apartheid and one wants to acknowledge just how much we were supported by the international community. But surely if I, having experienced apartheid go to another part of the world and see things that reflect almost uncannily the sort of things that happened to us – I mean you could be stopped as a black person by police at roadblocks and it didn’t matter. I was bishop of Johannesburg when police would stop our car and want to body-search my wife and children … and I go and I visit the Holy Land and I see things that are a mirror image of the sort of things I experienced under the apartheid. How can you stop me from the right to describe as I feel? You go anywhere in the world and if I see things that mirror the kind of experience that I know first hand I think it’s a cheek in a way for someone else to tell you ‘no you are wrong in feeling as you feel about what you have seen.’

Maureen Clare Murphy: Israel holding 9 Palestinian legislators without charge or trial (Electronic Intifada)