Iran | Honduras | South Africa | USA

Patrick Cockburn: What’s Driving Iran’s Protests? (CounterPunch)

Iran is seeing its most widespread protest demonstrations since 2009. They are still gaining momentum and some 15 people are reported to have been killed, though the circumstances in which they died remains unclear. The motive for the protests is primarily economic, but many slogans are political and some directly attack clerical rule in Iran which was introduced with the overthrow of the Shah in 1979.

Vijay Prashad: What the Protests in Iran Are Really About (AlterNet)

Trump and Netanyahu are trying to take credit, but this movement is all about the people…
This is unlike the Green Movement of 2009, when Tehran’s reform-minded citizens came onto the streets angry with what they saw as a stolen election. It is unlike the student uprisings of 1999, again centered in Tehran, when students protested over the closure of the reform newspaper Salam.
Those were protests of a rising middle-class, throttled by social sanctions and by political limitations. Their protests culminated in the election of President Hassan Rouhani, who is the current standard bearer of their hopes…
The current wave of protests is characterized not so much by a desire for an expanded political system, the terms of previous ‘reform’ protests. This is an upsurge against the privations in Iran – unemployment, deprivation and hopelessness. The sharpness of the slogans – even against the Supreme Leader of the country – indicates the level of anger at the failure of the Islamic Republic to deliver the basic needs of a growing and youthful population…
[I]n the city of Mashhad, where the protests began, the Astan-e Quds Razavi, Iran’s largest endowment, a foundation that controls a shrine in the city, owns 43% of the land in the city and has an income near $150 million per year. In the 2017 presidential election, Ibrahim Raisi, the candidate of the Supreme Leader Khamenei and head of Astan-e Quds Razavi, openly said that Khamenei had allowed the endowment not to pay taxes. This rattled a population that saw these institutions as sponges on a state that had turned its back on ordinary Iranians…
Tens of thousands of people have taken to the streets. But tens of thousands more followed to defend the Islamic Republic. These are tense times for Iran. It is clear that the government is going to have to accede to the pressure from this working-class uprising. It is not enough to describe the protestors as foreign agents. Even if Trump and Netanyahu, the monarchists and the Mujahideen Khalq try to take credit for the uprising, they are not in charge. The well of Iranian patriotism is deep. The Iranians will not take their orders from the White House. But neither will they sit quietly as their lives fall apart before their eyes.

Murtaza Hussein: Protests in Iran took many by surprise — but not Iranian labor activists (Intercept)
Brandon Turbeville: What Is Happening in Iran? Is Another “Color Revolution” Underway? (GlobalResearch)
Reza Fiyouzat: Iran and the Left: a Dissenting View (CounterPunch)

Allan Nairn: U.S. spent weeks pressuring Honduras opposition to end protests against election fraud (Intecept)

[T]he U.S. congratulated Juan Orlando Hernández on what it said was his re-election as president of Honduras. The U.S. State Department’s congratulations to Hernández came a month into a standoff between the government and the opposition over the vote tally, and five days after the Honduran electoral commission, which is controlled by Hernández-installed allies, declared him the winner.
The State Department message came amid continuing vote-fraud allegations by the opposition, journalists, and foreign observers. The Organization of American States had announced on December 17 that the purported victory was “impossible” to verify, and called for a new, clean election.

Amy Goodman, Allan Nairn: United States Tries—But Fails—to Stop to Stop Hondurans from Protesting Election Fraud (Democracy Now)
Danielle Marie Mackey: The election fraud in Honduras follows decades of corruption funded by the U.S. war on drugs (Intercept)

Irvin Jim: NUMSA New Year Statement: A clarion call to build a Revolutionary Workers Party! (Dawn)

The recent leadership changes that have resulted in the Deputy President of the country Cyril Ramaphosa ascending to the presidency of the ANC is not a reason to celebrate, particularly for the working class. NUMSA refused to endorse one faction of the ANC over another. We have always known that regardless of who emerged the winner, the governing party will continue to pursue backward, right wing, neo-liberal macro-economic policies which are hurtful to the working class and the poor.
For the last two decades, the ANC government has waged an all-out assault on the African working class in order to defend White Monopoly Capital… These policies have resulted in massive job losses and long-term mass unemployment. They have created a society of extreme inequality. The majority suffer as they did under Apartheid, living crammed together with cockroaches and rats in townships and shacks, without sanitation, water and electricity.
NUMSA shares SAFTU’s view that “Cyril Ramaphosa is a deeply compromised capitalist billionaire, with hands stained with the blood of the 34 victims of Marikana who were shot in cold blood by the state to shield White Monopoly capital in general and Lonmin in particular”.

Philip Bump: There’s still little evidence that Russia’s 2016 social media efforts did much of anything (Washington Post)

[W]hat we actually know about the Russian activity on Facebook and Twitter: It was often modest, heavily dissociated from the campaign itself and minute in the context of election social media efforts…
A little-noticed statement from Sen. Richard Burr (R-N.C.), chairman of the Senate Intelligence Committee, detailed how unsophisticated the Russian ad targeting actually was in the context of the election. Among the points he made:

  • Maryland was targeted by nearly five times as many ads as was Wisconsin (262 to 55).
  • Thirty-five of the 55 ads targeting Wisconsin ran during the primary.
  • More ads targeted DC than Pennsylvania.
  • A total of $1,979 was spent in Wisconsin — $1,925 of it in the primary.
  • The spending in Michigan and Pennsylvania were $823 and $300, respectively.
  • More of the geographically targeted ads ran in 2015 than in 2016…

Just before Election Day in 2016, Twitter announced 1 billion tweets had been sent from August 2015 through that point. Even assuming all 202,000 of those tweets from the Russian accounts were in that period, it means they constituted 0.02 percent of the election-related tweets…
As it stands, the public evidence doesn’t support the idea that the Russians executed a savvy electoral strategy on social media to ensure Trump’s victory. In fact, it seems less the case that they did so now than seemed might be possible back in July.

Rober Harris: The Real Problem With US Elections Isn’t Russia (CounterPunch)

It’s over a year since the presidential elections. Yet some folks seem ever more obsessed about possible Russian influence; what with revelations of Moscow gold spent on Facebook ads for clickbait showing adorable puppies and the outing of alleged Kremlin operative Jill Stein. With the hindsight of history, we can now look back at what some Democrats have called the crime of the century and see how it could have been averted.
What a crime it was! After all, the US is the one that is supposed to have a monopoly on “democracy promotion” in other countries. Our government most recently endorsed the fraudulent re-election of the incumbent in Honduras, who was a product of a coup backed by the Obama administration. And let us not forget Bill Clinton’s well timed loan to good ole Boris Yeltsin in Russia. The WTO should fine Russia for unfair practices and infringement on the US concession…
[T]he most outstanding fact of that election and of elections in the US in general is that close to half of the adult population doesn’t vote. Only 55% of the electorate cast ballots in the hotly contested 2016 presidential race, and that was considered a great achievement. Compared to other developed nations, the US is among the ones with the lowest voter turnouts…and for good reasons besides the unpalatability of the proffered candidates…
What if everyone voted? The answer is that our politics would look very different than what we have now. For this deep reason, the two-party duopoly wants to keep voter participation low for fear the populace would make the wrong choices.

Glenn Greenwald: Facebook Says It Is Deleting Accounts at the Direction of the U.S. and Israeli Governments (Intercept)

Lebanon

President Aoun calls Saudi detention of Hariri ‘aggression against Lebanon (Press TV)

Lebanese President Michel Aoun says Saudi Arabia is holding Prime Minister Saad Hariri, calling the detention as an act of aggression against his country and a violation of international human rights regulations.
“Nothing justifies Hariri’s lack of return for 12 days. We therefore consider him detained. This is a violation of the Vienna agreements and human rights law,” Aoun said at a meeting with Lebanese journalists and media executives…
Hariri announced his surprise resignation in Riyadh on November 4, shortly after traveling to Saudi Arabia. The televised announcement saw him reading out from a statement.
Lebanese government officials and senior sources close to Hariri believe that Riyadh forced him to step down and placed him under effective house arrest since he touched down in Saudi Arabia on November 3, a day before he announced his shock resignation…
Observers say even if he returned to Lebanon, Saudi Arabia could still hold his family “hostage.”
Hariri had taken to Twitter on Tuesday, saying he is “well” and will return to Lebanon “within days,” but that his family will stay in Saudi Arabia.

Ishaan Tharoor: Lebanon’s crisis sets the stage for a Middle East calamity (Washington Post)
Theodore Karasik, Giorgio Cafiero: Saudi–Iranian Rivalry in Lebanon (Carnegie Endowment for International Peace)

The resignation of Lebanese Prime Minister Saad Hariri on November 4—announced from Saudi Arabia, which built on his statements by accusing Lebanon of waging war against it and calling on its citizens to leave the Mediterranean country—has heightened justifiable concerns that the crisis could escalate into a new Middle Eastern war. Hariri’s resignation signals Riyadh’s increased efforts to counter Hezbollah and turn more Lebanese against the Iran-backed group, which entered into an uneasy coalition with Hariri and President Michel Aoun in October 2016 to end a two-year standoff that had left Lebanon’s presidential post vacant. As Iran has consolidated gains in Iraq and Syria—recently underscored by the joint Syrian Arab Army and Hezbollah victory over the Islamic State in Deir Ezzor—and Saudi Arabia is caught in a costly quagmire in Yemen, Riyadh has chosen to pursue a confrontation with Tehran by targeting Hezbollah in Lebanon.

Robert Malley: The Middle East Is Nearing an Explosion (Atlantic)

First, Saad Hariri, Lebanon’s prime minister, announced his resignation… Mohammed bin Salman, Saudi Arabia’s crown prince and de facto leader, had reason to want it to happen. Saudi-Iranian tensions are rising and bin Salman is determined to depict Tehran as the source of all regional evils. For Hariri to preside over a government that includes Hezbollah fundamentally undercut that core message: It meant allowing one of Riyadh’s closest allies to cooperate with Tehran’s most loyal partner. Hariri as prime minister created the impression that coexistence with Hezbollah and by extension with Iran was possible; his departure is designed to erase any doubt…
Act two was news that Saudi Arabia had intercepted a missile launched from Yemen and purportedly aimed at Riyadh’s airport. This was not the first missile that the Houthis, a Yemeni rebel group enjoying Iranian and Hezbollah support, had fired at its northern neighbor, but its timing and unprecedented range could make it one of the more consequential. The extent of outside backing to the Houthis is a matter of some debate, though neither U.S. nor Saudi officials harbor any doubt that the dramatic progress in the rebel movement’s ballistic missile program could not have occurred without its two benefactors’ considerable training and help. Like Hariri in his act of self-immolation, Saudi officials quickly and publicly drew a direct line connecting the strike to Iran and Hezbollah; it was, they proclaimed, an act of war for which they held both responsible and to which they would respond.
Act three was the massive Saudi purge in which over 10 princes and dozens of businessmen and senior officials were put under house arrest. This was bin Salman cleaning house, eliminating any potential competing military, political, economic, or media-related source of power…
All three developments point in a similar direction: that of an increasingly emboldened and single-minded Saudi leadership eager to work with the U.S. to counter an Iranian threat whose scale it believes was made all the starker by the day’s Yemen-related events.

Robert Fisk: Lebanese Prime Minister Saad Hariri accepts exile in France as Saudi Arabia no longer feels like a home away from home (Independent)

Marcus Barnett: Sabotaging Apartheid: An Interview with Ronnie Kasrils (Jacobin / Black Agenda Report)

Even among Communists, there was the view that the first objective should be political power, and once you achieve that you could change things. But we in the SACP completely underestimated the power of capital, especially the extent to which it could seduce national liberation movements. We got into what I call a Faustian pact with big business from Mandela onwards. We said, “If we get political power, we will give concessions on the economic side.” Those concessions were much too great.
And this was the beginning of the problem. Even with all the goodwill and intention of Mandela and Mbeki as leaders — people who are not as corrupt as Jacob Zuma — it created a stepping stone for the craven, profit-seeking rentiers and the comprador-bourgeoisie to come to the fore and establish systems of patronage. That has allowed the South African revolution to veer completely off course.

Ofer Aderet: Israeli Prime Minister After Six-Day War: ‘We’ll Deprive Gaza of Water, and the Arabs Will Leave’ (Haaretz via Google News and in Google cache)

“Empty” the Gaza Strip, “thin out” the Galilee, rewrite textbooks and censor political cartoons in Haaretz: These are among the proposals discussed by cabinet ministers after the Six-Day War that will be available to the public in a major release of declassified government documents by the Israel State Archives …
Eshkol expressed the hope that, “precisely because of the suffocation and imprisonment there, maybe the Arabs will move from the Gaza Strip,” adding there were ways to remove those who remained. “Perhaps if we don’t give them enough water they won’t have a choice, because the orchards will yellow and wither,” he said in this context. Another “solution,” he said, could be another war. “Perhaps we can expect another war and then this problem will be solved. But that’s a type of ‘luxury,’ an unexpected solution.”
“We are interested in emptying out Gaza first,” Eshkol summed up. To which Labor Minister Yigal Allon suggested “thinning the Galilee of Arabs,” while Religious Affairs Minister Zerah Warhaftig said, “We must increase [the number of] Jews and take all possible measures to reduce the number of Arabs.” …

Wikileaks | Iran | Kurdistan | Palestine

Owen Bowcott, David Crouch: UN panel calls on UK and Sweden to end Julian Assange’s ‘deprivation of liberty’ (Guardian)

The WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange has been arbitrarily detained by the UK and Sweden for more than five years and should be released immediately with compensation, according to a United Nations report…
The panel calls on the Swedish and British authorities to end Assange’s “deprivation of liberty”, respect his physical integrity and freedom of movement and offer him compensation…
A UK government spokesperson said: “This changes nothing. We completely reject any claim that Julian Assange is a victim of arbitrary detention. The UK has already made clear to the UN that we will formally contest the working group’s opinion…”

Glenn Greenwald: U.S. Radically Changes Its Story of the Boats in Iranian Waters: to an Even More Suspicious Version (Intercept)

Martin Chulov: Iraqi Kurdistan president: time has come to redraw Middle East boundaries (Guardian)

Massoud Barzani claims era of Sykes-Picot is over and a new international agreement is needed for the Middle East

Pepe Escobar: Why Israel is in love with Kurdistan (RT)

What Big Oil in the US – and also Israel – sees, most of all, is the mirage of a Western-friendly major oil exporter in the long run. That’s why Balkanization sounds so juicy. This has nothing to do with the welfare of the historically wronged Kurdish people. It’s hardcore business. And yet another Divide and Rule power play.

Deepak Tripathi: Why Israel is backing Kurdish independence (Middle East Eye)

Ban Ki-moon: Don’t Shoot the Messenger, Israel (New York Times)

In Israel and the occupied Palestinian territories, 2016 has begun much as 2015 ended — with unacceptable levels of violence and a polarized public discourse. That polarization showed itself in the halls of the United Nations last week when I pointed out a simple truth: History proves that people will always resist occupation.

Michael Schaeffer Omer-Man: IDF admits spraying herbicides inside the Gaza Strip (+972)

The Israel army has confirmed that it used crop-dusters to kill off vegetation — and perhaps inadvertently, agricultural crops — inside the Gaza Strip last week. According to Palestinian officials, over 420 acres of land were damaged by the spraying.
For years now, the IDF has unilaterally maintained a lethal “no-go zone” on the Palestinian side of the border with Gaza. Now, it seems, it has also implemented a “no-grow zone.”

Belal Aldabbour: Israel spraying toxins over Palestinian crops in Gaza (AlJazeera)

On January 7, a low-flying agricultural aircraft sprayed herbicides on to Palestinian farmlands along the eastern border, eradicating or damaging up to 162 hectares of crops and farmland along the Israeli border fence.
“Herbicides are sprayed in high concentrations. Thus, they remain embedded in the soil, and then find their way to the water basin. This constitutes a real hazard for the population,” said Anwar Abu Assi, manager of the chemical laboratory at the Ministry of Agriculture.
The sprayed areas belong to Israel’s unilaterally imposed and poorly delineated “buffer” or “no-go zone”.
The zone, which amounts to an estimated 17 percent of the entire territory of the Gaza Strip and a third of its agricultural lands, erodes into the Strip’s most vital and fertile soils…
With the Strip being merely five kilometres wide in some areas, a few hundred metres prove essential to the Strip’s food security…
A few days ago, Israeli warplanes bombed Gaza’s main agricultural experiment station, causing $300,000-worth of damages and destroying the station’s building, laboratories, vehicles and a large power generator.
The station developed new seeds and strains for use by local farmers. Bombed and completely destroyed during the 2014 war, Israel seems insistent on keeping the station out of service, effectively stifling every Palestinian attempt to attain self-sufficiency or independence, even agriculturally.

Peter Beaumont: Palestinian families homeless as Israeli military demolishes West Bank houses (Guardian)

Israeli military bulldozers have demolished 23 houses in two impoverished southern West Bank villages, including structures that were home to more than 100 people…
According to Israeli NGO Peace Now, among the 110 people made homeless during the demolitions were dozens of children from 12 different families.

Gideon Levy: Don’t Celebrate the Israeli Occupation’s Impending Demise Just Yet (Guardian)
Gideon Levy: Yes, Israel Is Executing Palestinians Without Trial (Haaretz)

We should call it like it is: Israel executes people without trial nearly every day. Any other description is a lie. If there was once discussion here about the death penalty for terrorists, now they are executed even without trial (and without discussion). If once there was debate over the rules of engagement, today it’s clear: we shoot to kill – any suspicious Palestinian.
Public Security Minister Gilad Erdan outlined the situation clearly when he said, “Every terrorist should know he will not survive the attack he is about to commit” – and almost every politician joined him in nauseating unison, from Yair Lapid on up. Never have so many licenses to kill been handed out here, nor has the finger been so itchy on the trigger…
The firing squads are active every day. Soldiers, police and civilians shoot those who stabbed Israelis, or tried to stab them or were suspected of doing so, and at those who run down Israelis in their cars or appear to have done so.
In most cases, there was no need to shoot – and certainly not to kill. In a good many of the cases, the shooters’ lives were not in danger. They shot people to death who were holding a knife or even scissors, or people who just put their hands in their pockets or lost control of their car.
They shot them to death indiscriminately – women, men, teenage girls, teenage boys. They shot them when they were standing, and even after they were no longer a threat. They shot to kill, to punish, to release their anger, and to take revenge. There is such contempt here that these incidents are barely covered in the media.

Leandros Fischer: The German Left’s Palestine Problem (Jacobin, December 2014)
Shany Littman: Tel Aviv Museum Nixes Ai Weiwei Exhibit; Israeli Artist Says Censorship at Play (Haaretz)

The exhibit by the Chinese artist and dissident, which was also expected to show portraits of Palestinians by Israeli photographer Miki Kratsman, was delayed repeatedly until being nixed.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Chris Gilbert: Refrigerator Wars in Venezuela (CounterPunch)

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Syria | Egypt | Iraq–Iran | Palestine

Joshua Landis: Should the Use of Chemical Weapons Prompt a US Attack in Syria? (Syria Comment)
Say NO to another U.S. War, BEFORE the Bombs Fall! (International Action Center)
Elizabeth O’Bagy: The Opposition Advances in Damascus (Institute for the Study of War)

Despite significant gains in Homs province, Syrian government forces are struggling against opposition forces on other fronts. In Damascus, opposition forces have mounted a major offensive, entering many government-held areas and gaining new ground. Although the government has gone on the counter-offensive, opposition forces have been able to maintain their advance and prevented government forces from storming a number of critical areas in the city. These gains reveal the extent to which the opposition is able to adapt to changes in the operating environment, and prove that the Syrian government lacks the capacity to conclusively defeat the insurgency despite increased assistance from external allies.

Dale Gavlak, Yahya Ababneh: Syrians In Ghouta Claim Saudi-Supplied Rebels Behind Chemical Attack (MintPress News)

Rebels and local residents in Ghouta accuse Saudi Prince Bandar bin Sultan of providing chemical weapons to an al-Qaida linked rebel group.

Will the National Coalition of Revolutionary Forces in Eastern Ghouta Be Able to Unite the Revolutionary Forces? (Syrian Observer)
Pentagon may be involved in Chemical Attack in Syria: US Intelligence Colonel Hacked Emails (Global Research)
Raphaël Lefèvre: The Brotherhood Starts Anew in Syria (Majalla)

While the Egyptian Brotherhood makes global headlines and Tunisia’s Ennahda Party struggles to remain in power, very little is publicly known about the state of Syria’s Muslim Brotherhood. In recent weeks, much has been made of the decrease in the group’s influence over the Syrian National Coalition (SNC). In contrast, not a lot has been said on the Brotherhood’s actual influence inside Syria and its strategy for the revolution. How exactly does the movement plan on dealing with recent trends in the conflict, such as the rise of Islamic extremism in opposition ranks?

Anthony Dworkin, Daniel Levy, Julien Barnes-Dacey: Eight things to consider before intervening in Syria (European Council on Foreign Relations)

What are the goals of intervention? – The chemical weapons dilemma – The problem with evidence – The legality challenge – The military dynamic of western intervention – Impact on the trajectory of the Syria conflict – Impact on the region – A diplomatic alternative?

Syria Statement (International Crisis Group)

Debate over a possible strike – its wisdom, preferred scope and legitimacy in the absence of UN Security Council approval – has obscured and distracted from what ought to be the overriding international preoccupation: how to revitalise the search for a political settlement.

Brown Moses Blog (Blogspot)
Mariana sent this link:
Rebeldes sirios confirman a una periodista su implicación en el ataque con armas químicas (RT)
And here’s a remarkable article in German:
Hans-Christof Kraus: Und ihr denkt, es geht um einen Diktator (Frankfurter Allgemeine)

Der aktuelle Konflikt um ein Eingreifen oder Nicht-Eingreifen in den syrischen Bürgerkrieg ist deshalb so brisant, weil sich in dieser Frage der Gegensatz zwischen zwei radikal unterschiedlichen geostrategischen und weltpolitischen Konzeptionen manifestiert. Den Amerikanern und der westlichen Seite geht es nicht oder nicht vorrangig darum, der bedauernswerten syrischen Bevölkerung zu helfen, sondern um Einflussnahme auf die Neugestaltung des Landes nach einem voraussichtlichen Sturz des derzeitigen Regimes, obwohl man mit diesem bisher stets gut zusammenarbeiten konnte. Mehrere, seit längerem geplante, für den Westen wichtige Öl- und Gaspipelines stehen auf dem Spiel, die Saudi-Arabien und Qatar mit dem östlichen Mittelmeerraum und der Türkei verbinden und deshalb partiell durch syrisches Gebiet führen sollen.

David Hearst: Why Saudi Arabia is Taking a Risk by Backing the Egyptian Coup (Information Clearing House)

King Abdullah fears the Muslim Brotherhood, which challenges the kingdom’s claim to be the protector of Islam.

The military’s new massacres in Egypt (Socialist Worker)
Yoav Bar: Enter the BAD Guys (Free Haifa)
Haitham Mohamedain released, but charged with “terrorism” against the state (MENA Solidarity Network)
Mohamed Malik, Mohamad Omar: Egypt During the Reign of the Lunatics (CounterPunch)

Shane Harris, Matthew M. Aid: CIA Files Prove America Helped Saddam as He Gassed Iran (Foreign Policy)

The U.S. government may be considering military action in response to chemical strikes near Damascus. But a generation ago, America’s military and intelligence communities knew about and did nothing to stop a series of nerve gas attacks far more devastating than anything Syria has seen …
In 1988, during the waning days of Iraq’s war with Iran, the United States learned through satellite imagery that Iran was about to gain a major strategic advantage by exploiting a hole in Iraqi defenses. U.S. intelligence officials conveyed the location of the Iranian troops to Iraq, fully aware that Hussein’s military would attack with chemical weapons, including sarin, a lethal nerve agent.

Lea Frehse: Haidar Eid: holding our breath in Gaza (Alternative Information Centre)

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Portugal | Mali | Bradley Manning | Israel/Palestine | Ṣabrā and Šātīlā | Iran

Mark Bergfeld: Portugal: “I Prefer the Horses in My Lasagne to the Donkeys in the Government” (MRzine)

Franklin C. Spinney: Africa and AFRICOM. Neo-Imperialism and the Arrogance of Ignorance (CounterPunch)

Although recent reports have tended to focus on the French effort to kick Al Qaeda in Islamic Maghreb (AQIM) out of Mali — an effort that may now be devolving into a far more complex guerrilla war, that French operation is just one operation in what may be shaping up to be a 21st Century version of the 19th Century Scramble for the resources of Africa.

Map: Conflicts in Africa (Le monde diplomatique)

Marjorie Cohn: The Uncommon Courage of Bradley Manning (MRzine)

Gideon Levy, Alex Levac: What killed Arafat Jaradat? (Haaretz, via DuckDuckGo and Google)
Amira Hass: After Palestinian dies in Shin Bet hands, time to question the interrogators (Haaretz, via DuckDuckGo and Google)
For years, Palestinian detainees and prisoners have complained about sleep deprivation, painful and prolonged handcuffing, humiliation, beatings and medical neglect. By international standards, this is torture.
Jodi Rudoren, Khaled Abu Aker: Palestinians Dispute Israel’s Findings on a Prisoner’s Death (New York Times)
Amira Hass: שופט קופי־פייסט / A copy-and-paste verdict for every Palestinian (Haaretz, via DuckDuckGo and Google)

On Jan. 14, a military judge heard nine appeals of administrative detention orders issued to Palestinian residents of the West Bank. In each case, the judge revoked the appeals, providing the same decision – word for word. …
The IDF Spokesman’s Office commented, “Judge Moshe Tirosh is a veteran jurist who has served in the reserves as a judge on the military court of appeals for many years. Every decision made by him includes a full and detailed discussion of every order, whatever it may be. …” …
The military courts are a conveyor belt that convicts every Palestinian in advance, because every Palestinian, in advance, opposes the military regime that has been imposed on him and that has given rise to the military court system. But administrative detention guarantees this military system a particularly easy time. A person is arrested without knowing what the suspicions against him are. The prosecution does not have to bother preparing an indictment, bringing in witnesses and evidence, or dealing with the defense’s questions.

Gideon Levy: 800 אלף / Eight hundred thousand (Haaretz, via DuckDuckGo and Google)

The same society that was so upset by the fate of a single prisoner, Gilad Shalit, does not even begin to grasp the depth of distress the Palestinians feel over the thousands of their people who are in prison. Eight hundred thousand. That is the number of Palestinian residents arrested and imprisoned in Israeli jails since the beginning of the occupation, according to The New York Times. Almost a million people.

Reuters: Israel mistreats Palestinian children in custody, UNICEF reports (Haaretz)
Alistair Dawber: Israel’s Palestinian-only buses prompt apartheid comparisons (Independent)
Chaim Levinson: ממחר: קווי אוטובוס נפרדים לפועלים פלסטינים ולמתנחלים | Israel introduces ‘Palestinian only’ bus lines, following complaints from Jewish settlers (Haaretz)

Starting on Monday, certain buses running from the West Bank into central Israel will have separate lines for Jews and Arabs. … Transportation Ministry officials are not officially calling them segregated buses, but rather bus lines intended to relieve the distress of the Palestinian workers.

Roi Mandel: Sharon in 1983: Israel could be accused of genocide (Yedioth Ahronoth)
Ofer Aderet: אחרי סברה ושתילה: שרון חשש שיואשם ברצח עם / Ariel Sharon feared genocide charges over Israel’s role in Sabra and Shatila (Haaretz, via DuckDuckGo and Google)

Sharon read out to the cabinet the 1950 statute against genocide, and warned that in his interpretation they could all be considered accomplices to the massacre, according to the letter of the law. To illustrate this, he elaborated on the roles of accomplices.
“We all urged this, we all enabled it, by asking them (the Phalangist Christian militias) to enter the camps. We were present, we lit up the area and we evacuated casualties. It is common knowledge that we were in the area to keep the opposition away, and we did not isolate it from other areas. We kept forces in the area to ensure the mission was carried out, and in case they ran into trouble and needed help getting out.”

Setz Anziska: A Preventable Massacre (New York Times)

Contrary to Prime Minister Begin’s earlier assurances, Defense Minister Sharon said the occupation of West Beirut was justified because there were “2,000 to 3,000 terrorists who remained there.” Mr. Draper (U.S. envoy Morris Draper) disputed this claim; having coordinated the August evacuation, he knew the number was minuscule. Mr. Draper said he was horrified to hear that Mr. Sharon was considering allowing the Phalange militia into West Beirut. Even the I.D.F. chief of staff, Rafael Eitan, acknowledged to the Americans that he feared “a relentless slaughter.” …
Mr. Draper warned that critics would say, “Sure, the I.D.F. is going to stay in West Beirut and they will let the Lebanese go and kill the Palestinians in the camps.”
Mr. Sharon replied: “So, we’ll kill them. They will not be left there. You are not going to save them. You are not going to save these groups of the international terrorism.”
Mr. Draper responded: “We are not interested in saving any of these people.”

Ofer Aderet: ‘Israel misled U.S. diplomats during Sabra and Shatila massacre’ (Haaretz)

Another Israeli official who feared a massacre was Deputy Prime Minister David Levy. On September 16, during a cabinet meeting at which the ministers learned that the Phalange had been allowed into the camps, he said, “I know what the meaning of revenge is for them, what kind of slaughter. Then no one will believe we went in to create order there, and we will bear the blame.” …
After Draper argued that Israel will be blamed for letting the Lebanese kill the Palestinians in the camps, Sharon replied, “So, we’ll kill them. They will not be left there. You are not going to save them. You are not going to save these groups of the international terrorism…If you don’t want the Lebanese to kill them, we will kill them.”

Nima Shirazi: The Talented Mr. Takeyh (MRzine)

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

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

Gabriel Hetland: Why Chavez Won (CounterPunch)

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

James Green: An Interview With Norman Finkelstein (CounterPunch)

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

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

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

Palestine | EU | Syria | South Sudan | Iran

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Syria | Palestine/Israel | Mexico | Iran | USA

Aron Lund: Divided They Stand. An Overview of Syria’s Political Opposition Factions (PDF; Palmecentret)
Syrian Left Coalition: Damascus uprising calling upon soldiers to switch side (Anti-Imperialist Camp)
SNC rift over Syrian transitional government (al-Akhbar)
Syria: from the oppositions gathered in Sant’Egidio an appeal for a political solution (NCB)
Melkulangara Kumaran Bhadrakumar: Syria: Regime change and smart power. The rise and fall of Turkey’s Erdogan (Asia Times)
Nick Brauns: PKK-Fahnen auf Rathäusern (junge Welt)
Syriens Zukunft entscheidet sich in Berlin (Berliner Morgenpost)

Die politische Opposition in Syrien gilt auch nach den militärischen Erfolgen der Freien Syrischen Armee (FSA) weiter als zerstritten und unorganisiert. Der im Oktober 2011 als Dachorganisation diverser Oppositioneller gegründete Syrische Nationalrat (SNC) mit Sitz in Istanbul vertritt nach eigenen Angaben 60 Prozent der Regimegegner. Dazu gehören die verbotene Muslimbruderschaft sowie christliche und kurdische Minderheiten. Die meisten SNC-Mitglieder sind Exil-Syrer, wie der in Schweden lebende Vorsitzende Abdelbasit Seida, ein Kurde. Nach Einschätzung von Fachleuten wird aber die Rolle des SNC, der kürzlich von der internationalen Staatengruppe der “Freunde Syriens” anerkannt wurde, völlig überbewertet. Stärker in Syrien selbst verankert ist das Nationale Koordinationskomitee für den demokratischen Wandel (NCC)), dem ein Dutzend linke und mehrere kurdische Parteien angehören.

Pepe Escobar: Welcome to the Kurdish Spring (Asia Times)
Mona Sarkis: Autonomie in der Warteschleife (Telepolis)
James P. Rubin: The Real Reason to Intervene in Syria (Foreign Policy)

Cutting Iran’s link to the Mediterranean Sea is a strategic prize worth the risk.

Victor Kotsev: Israel stirs on the eve of Middle East war (Asia Times)

Some analysts have speculated that an American-led campaign in Syria might postpone an Israeli strike on Iran, not least because the Assad regime is a key element of Iran’s influence on the Levant.

Zvi Bar’el: CIA’s favorite Saudi prince is laying the groundwork for a post-Assad Syria / הנסיך הסעודי חביב הסי-איי-אי מכין את השטח לסוריה שאחרי אסד (Haaretz)
As’ad AbuKhalil: Nasrallah on Syria (al-Akhbar)

Zeev Sternhell: Ariel as a showcase for Israel / אריאל כחלון ראווה (Haaretz)

Ariel, the new university town, is the symbol of Israel and its true showcase. The settlement, which lies some 20 kilometers east of the Green Line, was from the start intended to drive a wedge into the heart of the West Bank so that it would be impossible to establish a viable Palestinian state there. … The college also demonstrates Israel’s real order of priorities. Its status was changed arrogantly, via a process that rode roughshod over academic rules and blatantly ignored the accepted criteria for Israeli universities.

Harriet Sherwood: Population of Jewish settlements in West Bank up 15,000 in a year (Guardian)

The number of Jewish settlers in the West Bank grew by more than 15,000 in the past year to reach a total that exceeds 350,000 for the first time and has almost doubled in the past 12 years. Figures from Israel’s population registry show a 4.5% increase in the past 12 months. Most of the newcomers moved into settlements that many observers expect to be evacuated in any peace deal leading to a Palestinian state. … The Palestinian prime minister, Salam Fayyad, said on Thursday that violent attacks by settlers on Palestinians and their property, mosques and farmland had increased by 150% over the past year.

Jo Tuckman: Mexican media scandal: secretive Televisa unit promoted PRI candidate / Una unidad secreta de Televisa promocionó al candidato del PRI (Guardian)

Owen Bennett-Jones: Terrorists? Us? (London Review of Books)

The story of the People’s Mujahedin of Iran, also known as the Mujahedin e Khalq (MEK), is all about the way image management can enable a diehard enemy to become a cherished ally. The MEK is currently campaigning to be officially delisted in the US as a terrorist organisation. Once off the list it will be free to make use of its support on Capitol Hill in order to become America’s most favoured, and no doubt best funded, Iranian opposition group.

Nicholas Shaxson: Where the Money Lives (Vanity Fair)
Chitrangada Choudhury: NYPD ‘consistently violated basic rights’ during Occupy protests – study (Guardian)