Britain | Refugees | Iraq | Israel/Palestine | USA

Jonathan Cook: The Facts Proving Corbyn’s Election Triumph (Defend Democracy Press)

Corbyn received 41 per cent of the vote, against May’s 44 per cent. Given the UK’s inherently flawed, first-past-the-post electoral system, he won some 50 fewer seats than the Conservatives, but that was still a big improvement on Labour’s share of seats in the last election, under Ed Miliband. There is now a hung parliament, and to survive May will need to depend on the votes of a small group of Northern Irish Ulster unionists, creating a deeply unstable government.
But how did Corbyn do in terms of the Labour vote compared to his recent predecessors? He won many more votes than Ed Miliband, Gordon Brown and Neil Kinnock, who were among those that, sometimes noisily, opposed his leadership of the party.
They lost their elections. But what about Corbyn’s share of the vote compared to Tony Blair, his most high-profile critic, whose many allies in the parliamentary Labour party sought relentlessly to subvert Corbyn’s leadership over the past two years and tried to bring him down, including by staging a leadership challenge last year.
Here are the figures for Blair’s three wins. He got a 36 per cent share of the vote in 2005 – much less than Corbyn. He received a 41 per cent of the vote – about the same as Corbyn – in 2001. And Blair’s landslide victory in 1997 was secured on 43 per cent of the vote, just two percentage points ahead of Corbyn last night.
In short, Corbyn has proved himself the most popular Labour leader with the electorate in more than 40 years, apart from Blair’s landslide victory in 1997. But let’s recall the price Blair paid for that very small margin of improvement over Corbyn’s vote. Behind the scenes, he sold Labour’s soul to the City, the corporations and their lobbyists. That Faustian pact secured Blair the backing of most of the British media, including Rupert Murdoch’s stable of papers and TV channel. The corporations mobilised their entire propaganda machine to get Blair into power. And yet he managed it with only 2 percentage points more than Corbyn, who had that same propaganda machine railing against him.
Also, unlike Corbyn, Blair did not have to endure a large section of his own party trying to destroy him from within.

Robert Mackey: After Election Setback, Theresa May Clings to Power in U.K. Thanks to Ulster Extremists (Intercept)

At the end of an election campaign that was nasty, brutish and short, British voters punished Prime Minister Theresa May at the polls on Thursday, depriving her Conservative Party of its governing majority in Parliament, and forcing her to rely on the support of a small party of extremists from Northern Ireland to stay in office.

Anna Momigliano: Italian forces ignored a sinking ship full of Syrian refugees and let more than 250 drown, says leaked audio (Washington Post)

Almost four years ago, 268 Syrian refugees — including 60 children — lost their lives in a shipwreck about 60 miles south of Lampedusa, a small Italian island that sits between Sicily and Tunisia. It was considered one of the worst tragedies of the European refugee crisis, but a leaked audiotape published Monday by the magazine L’Espresso suggested that Italian authorities let the Syrians drown despite being alerted several hours earlier that the refugees’ ship was in danger.

Mitch Potter, Michelle Shephard, Bruce Campion-Smith: Bound. Tortured. Killed. (Toronto Star)

Iraqi photojournalist Ali Arkady was embedded with who he thought were the good guys — an elite unit of Iraqi soldiers battling Daesh in the name of a united Iraq, strong and free once and for all. But as the battle for Mosul intensified, the Iraqis lost the plot, descending into torture and murder of civilians.

Mehdi Hasan: A 50-Year Occupation: Israel’s Six-Day War Started With a Lie / 50 anos de ocupação: A Guerra dos Seis Dias de Israel foi baseada em uma mentira (Intercept)

Fifty years ago, between June 5 and June 10, 1967, Israel invaded and occupied East Jerusalem, the West Bank, the Gaza Strip, and the Golan Heights. The Six-Day War, as it would later be dubbed, saw the Jewish David inflict a humiliating defeat on the Arab Goliath, personified perhaps by Gamal Abdel Nasser’s Egypt.
“The existence of the Israeli state hung by a thread,” the country’s prime minister, Levi Eshkol, claimed two days after the war was over, “but the hopes of the Arab leaders to annihilate Israel were dashed.” Genocide, went the argument, had been prevented; another Holocaust of the Jews averted.
There is, however, a problem with this argument: It is complete fiction, a self-serving fantasy constructed after the event to justify a war of aggression and conquest…
Above all else, the war … forced another 300,000 Palestinians from their homes and ushered in a brutal military occupation for the million-odd Palestinians left behind.
The conflict itself may have lasted only six days, but the occupation that followed is now entering its sixth decade — the longest military occupation in the world.

Gideon Levy: Fifty Years, Fifty Lies (Haaretz via Google News)

It began with the question of what to call the West Bank and Gaza. On Israel Radio it was decided to use the term ‘temporarily-held territories.’ This was lie No. 1

Gideon Levy, Alex Levac: What I’ve Seen in 30 Years of Reporting on the Israeli Occupation (Haaretz via Google News)

The occupation has its own language: An Arab is a ‘terrorist,’ detention without trial is ‘administrative,’ the occupying power is forever the victim and writing about its crimes is treason

Michael Sfard: Israel Is Not a Democracy (Haaretz via Google News)

A regime that allows only some of its subjects to take part in politics is not a democracy. True, Israel has an elected legislative branch, separation of powers and freedom of the press (all three of which, it should be said, are currently in danger). But for the past five decades, Israel has ruled millions of people who do not have the right to vote or to be elected to the systems that govern them. Israel not only denies them their civil rights, it plunders their land and resources, and transfers them to the most privileged of its citizens, and deprives them brutally and cruelly of independence and of a say in deciding their future.

Matthew Shaer: The Long, Lonely Road of Chelsea Manning (New York Times Magazine)

Her disclosure of classified documents in 2010 ushered in the age of leaks. Now, freed from prison, she talks about why she did it — and the isolation that followed.

Syria | Iraq | Rwanda

Matthew Allen: US Proxies Set Stage for Syria Balkanization (Russia Insider)

A leading Kurdish politician has confirmed that “the northern Syrian city of Raqqa is expected to join a decentralized system of government being set up by Syrian Kurdish groups and their allies once it is freed from Islamic State,” according to Reuters.
Saleh Muslim, the co-chair of the Syrian Kurdish PYD party, made his comments on the same day that a U.S.-led operation near Raqqa blocked “any advance by Syrian government forces from the west”. In other words, the U.S. has reserved Raqqa for its proxies.

Simon Tisdall: The west condemned Russia’s bombs – now coalition attacks are killing civilians in Mosul (Guardian)

The leaders who denounced Putin for deadly airstrikes in Syria are not speaking out over the siege of the Iraqi city.
America and the UK condemned Russian airstrikes that killed or injured hundreds of civilians during last autumn’s siege of Aleppo, accusing Vladimir Putin of war crimes. The question now is whether the US, backed by British air power, is committing similar atrocities against civilians in Mosul.
[In Mosul,] misdirected US airstrikes caused a massive explosion that reportedly killed at least 150 civilians sheltering in a basement. The Americans say they were targeting Islamic State fighters. The Russians said much the same about Aleppo – that they were attacking jihadi terrorists. Many people, not least the relatives of the Mosul dead, will struggle to see the difference…
[T]he high death toll places the Mosul carnage, if confirmed, among the worst such incidents since the US invasion in 2003. It also serves to highlight a new pattern of behaviour by US forces since Donald Trump took office in January. Since then, the monthly total of recorded civilian deaths from coalition airstrikes in Iraq and Syria has more than doubled, according to independent monitors.

Margaret Kimberley: Is Trump the DNC Hacker? (Black Agenda Report)

The Democratic Party is going all out with its charge of Russian involvement in the 2016 election. In doing so they achieve two very important goals. First, they distract their voters from asking why Hillary Clinton lost and why they are perennial losers at every level of government across the country. Secondly, they can wage war by other means as they attempt to exact regime change in Russia. That is the desired endgame as they attempt to crush the sovereignty and independence of that resource-rich nation which spans Eurasia.

Ann Garrison: Israel’s African Darling: Paul Kagame: An Interview with Robin Philpot (Black Agenda Report)

Rwandan dictator Paul Kagame, who recently addressed AIPAC, in Washington DC, is Israel’s favorite African, a man the Zionists permit to use the term “genocide.” Both nations claim their wounds give them a special status in the world. “Rwanda and Uganda could be called mad dog states – they’re highly militarized, and they serve as sheriffs for the U.S. at the same time as they pursue their own interests.”

USA | Refugees | Iraq | Syria | Japan | Israel

T. J. Coles: “Confronting China”: John Pilger Talks about His New Film, America’s ‘Pivot to Asia’, and the Role of Japan and Australia (Plymouth Institute for Peace Research)

The Coming War on China is my 60th film and perhaps one of the most urgent. It continues the theme of illuminating the imposition of great power behind a facade of propaganda as news. In 2011, President Obama announced a ‘pivot to Asia’ of US forces: almost two-thirds of American naval power would be transferred to Asia and the Pacific by 2020.
The undeclared rationale for this was the ‘threat’ from China, by some measure now the greatest economic power. The Secretary of Defense, Ash Carter, says US policy is to confront those ‘who see America’s dominance and want to take that away from us’…
China is encircled by a ‘noose’ of some 400 US bases, yet the news has ignored this while concentrating on the ‘threat’ of China building airstrips on disputed islets in the South China Sea, clearly as a defence to a US Navy blockade.

Alan Travis: Calais’s refugee children are sleeping rough because of Tory policy (Guardian)

As 100 children spend the night outside following the camp clearance, observers count the cost of Theresa May’s tough stance

Amelia Gentleman: More than 1,000 children left in Calais camp, say charities (Guardian)

Charities in Calais have said that more than 1,000 children remain in shipping containers in the demolished camp, with inadequate food and water supplies and no information provided about their future.

Dakota Acces Pipeline (Democracy Now)

Democracy Now! coverage of resistance to the Dakota Access Pipeline. If completed, the $3.8 billion pipeline would carry about 500,000 barrels of crude per day from North Dakota’s Bakken oilfield to Illinois. The project has faced months of resistance from the Standing Rock Sioux tribe and members of nearly 100 more tribes from across the U.S. and Canada.

Sam Levin: Over 120 arrested at North Dakota pipeline protests, including journalists (Guardian)

North Dakota police arrested more than 120 people over the weekend at Native American oil pipeline protests, including film-makers and journalists, prompting accusations that law enforcement officials are stifling free speech and using excessive force against peaceful protesters.
There were increasingly tense clashes between police and demonstrators against the Dakota access pipeline, which the Standing Rock Sioux tribe says is a threat to its water supply and cultural heritage.

Sam Levin: North Dakota arrest warrant for Amy Goodman raises fears for press freedom (Guardian)
Sam Levin: Judge rejects riot charges for journalist Amy Goodman after oil pipeline protest (Guardian)

Authorities had issued a warrant for her arrest after Democracy Now! host filmed guards for the Dakota access pipeline using dogs and pepper spray on protesters

Larry Buhl: Destruction of Sacred Burial Grounds Prompts Federal Judge to Protect Some Tribal Sites from Dakota Access Pipeline (Desmog)
Sam Levin: Guards for North Dakota pipeline could be charged for using dogs on activists (Guardian)
Steve Horn: Security Firm Running Dakota Access Pipeline Intelligence Has Ties to U.S. Military (CounterPunch)
David Marchese: Amy Goodman on Why the North Dakota Pipeline Standoff Is Only Getting Worse (New York)

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Luciana Bohne: Crossing the Acheron: Back to Vietnam (CounterPunch)

In classical mythology, the Acheron [Ἀχέρων / Ἀχερούσιος] is one of the rivers of the Underworld. It marks the boundary between the living and the dead. The ferryman Charon ferries the dead across the Acheron to a place where they lose memory. Nothing of what made them human remains—happiness, suffering, love, hatred, guilt, regret, redemption, betrayal, forgiveness…
“In May 2012, President Barack Obama and the Pentagon announced a Commemoration of the Vietnam War to continue through 2025, the fiftieth anniversary of the conflict’s end. Among the Commemoration’s objectives, three stand out: ‘to thank and honor’ veterans and their families . . . ‘to highlight the advances in technology, science, and medicine related to military research conducted during’ the war; and to ‘recognize the contributions and sacrifices made by the allies’.”

John Pilger: Inside the Invisible Government: War, Propaganda, Clinton & Trump (CounterPunch)

Imagine two cities.
Both are under siege by the forces of the government of that country. Both cities are occupied by fanatics, who commit terrible atrocities, such as beheading people.
But there is a vital difference. In one siege, the government soldiers are described as liberators by Western reporters embedded with them, who enthusiastically report their battles and air strikes. There are front page pictures of these heroic soldiers giving a V-sign for victory. There is scant mention of civilian casualties.
In the second city – in another country nearby – almost exactly the same is happening. Government forces are laying siege to a city controlled by the same breed of fanatics.
The difference is that these fanatics are supported, supplied and armed by “us” – by the United States and Britain. They even have a media centre that is funded by Britain and America.
Another difference is that the government soldiers laying siege to this city are the bad guys, condemned for assaulting and bombing the city – which is exactly what the good soldiers do in the first city.
Confusing? Not really. Such is the basic double standard that is the essence of propaganda. I am referring, of course, to the current siege of the city of Mosul by the government forces of Iraq, who are backed by the United States and Britain and to the siege of Aleppo by the government forces of Syria, backed by Russia. One is good; the other is bad.
What is seldom reported is that both cities would not be occupied by fanatics and ravaged by war if Britain and the United States had not invaded Iraq in 2003.

Martin Fackler: Sinking a bold foray into watchdog journalism in Japan (Columbia Journalism Review)

“In Japanese journalism, scoops usually just mean learning from the ministry officials today what they intend to do tomorrow,” said Makoto Watanabe, a former reporter in the section who quit the Asahi in March because he felt blocked from doing investigative reporting. “We came up with different scoops that were unwelcome in the Prime Minister’s Office.”
Abe and his supporters on the nationalistic right seized on missteps by the Asahi in its coverage of Fukushima and sensitive issues of World War II-era history to launch a withering barrage of criticism that the paper seemed unable to withstand. The taming of the Asahi set off a domino-like series of moves by major newspapers and television networks to remove outspoken commentators and newscasters.
Political interference in the media was one reason cited by Reporters Without Borders in lowering Japan from 11th in 2010 to 72nd out of 180 nations in this year’s annual ranking of global press freedoms, released on April 20, 2016.

John Pilger: Provoking Nuclear War by Media (CounterPunch)

The exoneration of a man accused of the worst of crimes, genocide, made no headlines. Neither the BBC nor CNN covered it. The Guardian allowed a brief commentary. Such a rare official admission was buried or suppressed, understandably. It would explain too much about how the rulers of the world rule.
The International Criminal Tribunal for the Former Yugoslavia (ICTY) in The Hague has quietly cleared the late Serbian president, Slobodan Milosevic, of war crimes committed during the 1992-95 Bosnian war, including the massacre at Srebrenica.

Jonathan Lis: Coalition Chairman Threatens to Strip Citizenship of Israeli Activist Who Criticized Occupation at UN (Haaretz)

In a further escalation of the backlash against the anti-occupation nonprofit B’Tselem after it addressed the UN Security Council, the chairman of the coalition said Friday that he will seek to have the citizenship of the group’s CEO revoked.
Likud lawmaker David Bitan told Channel 2 that B’Tselem head Hagai El-Ad’s remarks were an “explicit breach of trust by an Israeli citizen against the state, and as such he should find himself another citizenship.”

Thailand | Brexit | Ethiopia | Israel/Palestine

Giles Ji Ungpakorn (ใจ อึ๊งภากรณ์ [tɕaj ʔɯ́ŋpʰaːkɔːn]): King Pumipon (Bhumibol) of Thailand (Uglytruth Thailand)

King Pumipon (p̣hūmiphala ภูมิพลอดุลยเดช [pʰuːmípʰon]) of Thailand was a weak and characterless monarch who spent his useless and privileged life in a bubble, surrounded by fawning, grovelling, toadies who claimed that he was a “god”… His life’s work was in self-enrichment, support for military regimes and the defence of inequality. He played a significant role in preventing democratic rights, the development of social justice and the fair and unbiased use of the law. He did this by legitimising all the worst government policies and atrocities committed by Thai rulers. In recent years he remained silent while more and more dissidents were jailed, under the draconian lèse majesté law, for merely speaking out against the destruction of democracy.

Giles Ji Ungpakorn: Wachiralongkorn should not be the future king. Thailand should be a republic (Uglytruth Thailand)
Thailand’s heir apparent Maha Vajiralongkorn raises fears – and eyebrows (Guardian)

Thailand’s Crown Prince Maha Vajiralongkorn (มหาวชิราลงกรณ [máhǎː wáʨʰíraːloŋkɔːn]), a three-times divorced playboy who made his pet poodle an air chief marshal in the Thai military, poses perhaps the biggest challenge for both the country’s monarchists and its ruling junta in coming weeks, following the death of his father, King Bhumibol Adulyadej.

AFP: Who is Thailand’s 96-year-old regent? (Asia Times)

Former general and prime minister Prem Tinsulanonda (เปรม ติณสูลานนท์ [preːm tinnásǔːlaːnon]) … stormed up the army ranks during the Cold War and was promoted above his seniors to army chief in 1978.
Two years later, he assumed power in what was widely viewed as a silent coup endorsed by the king and queen…
Prem later led the Privy Council of late King Bhumibol Adulyadej — who died last Thursday after a 70-year reign — making him the monarch’s closest adviser and gatekeeper…
Both as prime minister in the 1980s and later as head of the Privy Council, Prem cemented the military’s self-designated role as protector of the monarchy through his remarkable relationship with Bhumibol.
“He was able to make the military into a mechanism for the monarchy but keep the military as a powerful institution in Thai politics,” Paul Chambers, an expert on Thailand’s military, told AFP…
Since the end of absolute monarchy in 1932, Thailand has seen 12 successful military coups.
Prem has instigated or had a hand in five of them, said Chambers.
The most recent came in 2014, toppling the democratically elected government of Yingluck Shinawatra, sister of telecoms billionaire and former prime minister Thaksin Shinawatra who was himself ousted in a 2006 coup.

Alison Smale, Thomas Fuller: Thailand Looks to Likely Future King With Apprehension (New York Times)
Reuters: Thai royal defamation cases jump since king’s death (Asia Times)

Prime Minister Prayuth Chan-ocha has moved quickly to quash any uncertainty around the royal succession, saying Crown Prince Maha Vajiralongkorn would ascend the throne after a period of mourning that he had requested.
Insulting the monarch, the regent or the heir, known by the French-language term “lèse-majesté”, is a crime in Thailand that carries a jail sentence of up to 15 years for each case.
Police spokesman Kitsana Pattanacharoen said there had been 12 lèse-majesté cases since last Thursday, with arrest warrants issued for eight suspects and four already in police custody.
“Their crime was posting messages or pictures which insulted the monarchy on social media,” he told Reuters.
There were 70 cases in the two-and-a-half years from a May 2014 coup up to last Thursday, said Weerawat Somnuek, a researcher at Thai legal monitoring group iLaw.

Colombia referendum: Voters reject Farc peace deal (BBC)

Voters in Colombia have rejected a landmark peace deal with Farc rebels in a shock referendum result, with 50.2% voting against it.
The deal was signed last week by President Juan Manuel Santos and Farc leader Timoleon Jimenez after nearly four years of negotiations.

Mona Mahmood and Emma Graham-Harrison: Mosul civilians brace for assault as Iraq forces bid to retake Isis stronghold (Guardian)

Hundreds of thousands of civilians are bracing themselves for the start of an Iraqi army campaign to retake Mosul from Isis, which they fear will bring “the whole world” to fight over their city.
Militants have banned civilians from leaving the city, and have set up checkpoints on roads out and blown up the homes of those who do flee as punishment and to deter others.

Patrick Cockburn: This Battle for Mosul Will Not Be the Last (CounterPunch)

The Iraqi government and its allies may eventually capture Mosul from Isis, but this could be just a new chapter in the war.
It will only win because of the devastating firepower of the US-led air forces and sheer weight of numbers. But the fight for the city is militarily and politically complex. The Iraqi army, Kurdish Peshmerga, Shia Hashd al-Shaabi and Sunni fighters from Mosul and Nineveh province, which make up the anti-Isis forces, suspect and fear each other almost as much as they hate Isis.

Tallha Abdulrazaq: Mosul will fall again, but at great cost (AlJazeera)

The battle for Mosul will be long and the city’s remaining 1.5 million civilians will bear the brunt.

Robert Fisk: After Mosul Falls, ISIS will Flee to Syria. Then What? (CounterPunch)

Syria’s army and Hezbollah and Iranian allies are preparing for a massive invasion by thousands of Isis fighters who will be driven out of Iraq when Mosul falls. The real purpose behind the much-trumpeted US-planned “liberation” of the Iraqi city, the Syrian military suspect, is to swamp Syria with the hordes of Isis fighters who will flee their Iraqi capital in favour of their “mini-capital” of Raqqa inside Syria itself.

Gary Leupp: An Urgently Necessary Briefing on Syria (CounterPunch)

Thomas Mountain: Revolutionary Islam and Regime Change in Ethiopia (CounterPunch)

With ethnic uprisings spreading across an Ethiopia now ruled by martial law there is only one nationally based organization in place to lead the eventual regime change in the country and that is the revolutionary Islamic movement.
Presently all the liberation resistance movements in Ethiopia are ethnically based with their senior leadership in exile, mainly in neighboring Eritrea. The only organization with a national presence is the revolutionary Islamic religious community, whose recently freed leaders have sworn to liberate Ethiopia from the western backed Tigrayan ethnic minority regime presently ruling the country.

Samir Amin: Brexit and the EU Implosion: National Sovereignty—For What Purpose? (Monthly Review)

The defense of national sovereignty, like its critique, leads to serious misunderstandings once one detaches it from the social class content of the strategy in which it is embedded. The leading social bloc in capitalist societies always conceives sovereignty as a necessary instrument for the promotion of its own interests based on both capitalist exploitation of labor and the consolidation of its international positions.

Chris Welzenbach: The Dreadful Chronology of Gaddafi’s Murder (CounterPunch)

Gideon Levy: Peace Is Justice, and Justice Doesn’t Need a Partner (Haaretz, behind pay wall; also via Google News) / אין פרטנר (Haaretz; also via Google News)

Israel is not in a position to demand a partner in order to end the occupation. It must end the occupation. It has no right to make demands before doing so.

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

Islamic State | New Cold War | War Propaganda | Palestine | Cuba | Bahrain

Patrick Cockburn: Isis consolidates (London Review of Books)

As the attention of the world focused on Ukraine and Gaza, the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria (Isis) captured a third of Syria in addition to the quarter of Iraq it had seized in June. The frontiers of the new Caliphate declared by Isis on 29 June are expanding by the day and now cover an area larger than Great Britain and inhabited by at least six million people, a population larger than that of Denmark, Finland or Ireland. In a few weeks of fighting in Syria Isis has established itself as the dominant force in the Syrian opposition, routing the official al-Qaida affiliate, Jabhat al-Nusra, in the oil-rich province of Deir Ezzor and executing its local commander as he tried to flee. In northern Syria some five thousand Isis fighters are using tanks and artillery captured from the Iraqi army in Mosul to besiege half a million Kurds in their enclave at Kobani on the Turkish border. In central Syria, near Palmyra, Isis fought the Syrian army as it overran the al-Shaer gasfield, one of the largest in the country, in a surprise assault that left an estimated three hundred soldiers and civilians dead. Repeated government counter-attacks finally retook the gasfield but Isis still controls most of Syria’s oil and gas production. The Caliphate may be poor and isolated but its oil wells and control of crucial roads provide a steady income in addition to the plunder of war.

Tariq Ali, Patrick Cockburn: The Rise of ISIS and the Origins of the New Middle East War (CounterPunch)

The unity between the Sunni and Shia resistance to the Americans was always tentative, although taken very seriously by the Americans. I mean, the memoirs of American generals at the time said they were really worried that these two groups would unite in resisting the occupation. And it’s perhaps one of the many disasters to have happened to Iraq that they didn’t unite, that they remained sectarian, in fact remained more sectarian, on the Sunni side.

Peter Harling: IS back in business (Monde diplomatique)

The so-called Islamic State (IS) — the jihadist movement also known as ISIL or ISIS and by the derogatory acronym Da’ish in Arabic — now controls much of northeast Syria and northwest Iraq (1). In a region beset with so much confusion, it appears uniquely determined and self-assured. Despite its name, it is in no sense a new state, since it rejects the concept of borders and largely does without institutions. Yet IS tells us much about the Middle East — and especially about its genuine states — as well as about western foreign policy.

Robert Fisk: Bingo! Here’s another force of evil to be ‘vanquished’ (Independent)

Resurrection, reinvention and linguistics. Barack Obama did the lot. And now he’s taking America to war in Syria as well as Iraq. Oh yes, and he’s going to defeat Isis, its “barbarism”, “genocide”, its “warped ideology” – until the bad guys are “vanquished from the earth”. What happened to George W Bush?

Robert Fisk: Assad lures President Obama into his web (Independent)
Robert Fisk: Isis isn’t the first group to use the butcher’s knife as an instrument of policy. Nor will it be the last (Independent)

Serge Halimi: The new cold war / Nouvelle guerre froide (Monde diplmatique)

In 1980 Ronald Reagan expressed his idea of relations between the United States and the Soviet Union in one short sentence: “We win, they lose.” Twelve years later, his immediate successor at the White House, George H W Bush, was satisfied that the task had been accomplished: “A world once divided into two armed camps now recognises one, sole and pre-eminent power, the United States of America.” The cold war was officially at an end.
That period too is now over. Its death knell sounded on the day Russia had had enough of “losing” and realised that its ritual humiliation would never come to an end, with one neighbouring country after another being persuaded — or bribed — into joining an economic and military alliance against it.

Tom Parfitt, Gleb Pavlovsky: Putin’s World Outlook (New Left Review)

[This] interview…, conducted in January 2012 by Tom Parfitt, then working for the Guardian in Moscow, has never before been published. It is a remarkable document—arguably the most revealing single account of Putin’s vision of rule, and its roots, to have emerged so far. From late 1999 to 2011, Pavlovsky was a key adviser to Putin in the management of Russian opinion—one of the regime’s two leading ‘political technologists’, along with Vladislav Surkov.

Lee Fang: Who’s Paying the Pro-War Pundits? (Nation)

If you read enough news and watch enough cable television about the threat of the Islamic State, the radical Sunni Muslim militia group better known simply as IS, you will inevitably encounter a parade of retired generals demanding an increased US military presence in the region. They will say that our government should deploy, as retired General Anthony Zinni demanded, up to 10,000 American boots on the ground to battle IS. Or as in retired General Jack Keane’s case, they will make more vague demands, such as for “offensive” air strikes and the deployment of more military advisers to the region.
But what you won’t learn from media coverage of IS is that many of these former Pentagon officials have skin in the game as paid directors and advisers to some of the largest military contractors in the world. Ramping up America’s military presence in Iraq and directly entering the war in Syria, along with greater military spending more broadly, is a debatable solution to a complex political and sectarian conflict. But those goals do unquestionably benefit one player in this saga: America’s defense industry.

Nermeen Shaikh, Amy Goodman, Lee Fang: Conflicts of Interest Exposed for TV Guests Backing Military Action (Democracy Now)
AP: Anti-Islamic ads to appear on NYC transit (Haaretz)

Anti-Islamic ads will begin appearing on 100 New York City buses and two subway entrances next week, but transit officials have rejected an ad from the same group that includes the phrase “Killing Jews.” …
The agency says it rejected an ad with the quote “Killing Jews is Worship that draws us close to Allah” because it could incite violence.

Robert Fisk: Israel’s ‘land for lives’ is theft. Pure and simple (Independent)

So a bit more of Palestine has slidden down the plughole. A thousand more acres of Palestinian land stolen by the Israeli government – for “appropriation” is theft, is it not? – and the world has made the usual excuses. The Americans found it “counter-productive” to peace, which is probably a bit less forceful than its reaction would be if Mexico were to bite off a 1,000-acre chunk of Texas and decided to build homes there for its illegal immigrants in the US. But this is “Palestine” (inverted commas more necessary than ever) and Israel has been getting away with theft, albeit not on quite this scale – it is the biggest land heist in 30 years – ever since it signed up to the Oslo agreement in 1993.

Gideon Levy: War? What war? Gaza gets forgotten in a hurry (Haaretz)

Even if we put aside the moral blindness in Israel, which wasn’t shocked by a single event during the fighting, it’s impossible to comprehend the complacency afterwards…
Gaza hasn’t forgotten. There’s a whole list of people who can never forget: the 1,500 orphaned children; the 3,000 wounded children; the 1,000 crippled children; the 110,000 residents still crowded in UNRWA shelters in inhumane conditions; the tenants of the 18,000 buildings destroyed or badly damaged, leaving 2.5 million tons of debris nobody knows what to do with; the 450,000 people without water and the 360,000 who, according to the World Health Organization, are suffering from PTSD after our bombardments. None of these people can be expected to forgive, and this isn’t the first time this has happened.

Michel Réal: The forgotten alliance (Monde diplomatique)

The USSR was central to the adoption of the UN plan to partition Palestine on 29 November 1947. Besides its own vote, it also delivered those of its satellites, with the (still unexplained) exception of Yugoslavia. It also provided Israel with the resources it needed most — people and arms…
Moscow also supported Israel in another aspect of its demographic battle: the homogenisation of its population, which led to the departure — mainly through expulsion — of over 700,000 Palestinian Arabs. The USSR absolved Israel of responsibility and blamed the British. In 1948 the Soviet Union voted against UN resolution 194 on the possible return of Palestinian refugees…
In this first phase, from 1941 to 1951, Israel received support from the USSR that went beyond its expectations — without having to sacrifice the backing of western nations, especially the US.
However, subsequent episodes caused discord and led to Russo-Israeli diplomatic relations being severed in February 1953…
Stalin’s death on 5 March 1953 ended the tensions between the countries and halted the campaign against Soviet Jews. Diplomatic relations were restored in July, but there was no return to the golden age of 1947-49, and the war of June 1967, in which Russia supported Egypt and its Arab allies, led to a second break in diplomatic relations. They were only restored in 1991, just a few months before the demise of the USSR.

Igor Delanoë: Unexpected allies (Monde diplomatique)

About 15% of Israel’s population have direct Russian roots, and the pragmatic alliance between the countries in trade and diplomacy is changing the balance of power in the region.

Zeev Sternhell: It’s the colonialism they hate, not Jews (Haaretz)

Most Europeans do not doubt the Jews’ right to an independent state, but they vehemently object to a reality in which we are keeping masses of people under occupation and consciously trampling their basic rights.

Emily Morris: Unexpected Cuba (New Left Review)

What is the verdict on Cuba’s economy, nearly a quarter of a century after the collapse of the Soviet bloc? The story generally told is a simple one, with a clear message. It describes a cyclical alternation of government policy between moments of pragmatic capitulation to market forces, which account for any progress, and periods of ideological rigidity and re-assertion of state control, which account for all economic difficulties.

Robert Fisk: Briton at the heart of Bahrain’s brutality rule (Independent)

IAN Stewart MacWalter Henderson has torturers on his staff. In the embattled state of Bahrain, he is the most feared of all secret policemen, the General Director of Security and head of the State Investigation Department, a 67-year-old ex-British police superintendent whose officers routinely beat prisoners, both in the basements of the SIS offices and in the al- Qalaa jail. Leaders of the Bahraini opposition believe he is the power behind the throne of Sheikh Issa bin Salman al-Khalifa, and they may well be right.

Rob Crawford: The CIA, the President, and the Senate’s Torture Report (CounterPunch)

Palestine | Scotland | USA

Ben Lynfield, Zachary Davies Boren: Israel claims 400 hectares in West Bank for ‘state use’ just days after the Gaza ceasefire agreed (Belfast Telegraph)
Chaim Levinson, Jack Khoury: Israel appropriates massive tract of West Bank land (Haaretz; via Google News)

Israel’s Civil Administration [Israeli newspeak for the military administration of civilians in the occupied territories] in the West Bank yesterday announced the takeover of 988 acres (3,799 dunams) belonging to five Palestinian villages between the Etzion settlement bloc and Jerusalem. The move clears the way for construction of a new settlement named Gvaot.
The announcement follows the cabinet’s decision last week to take over the land in response to the June kidnapping and killing of three teenage Jewish boys by Hamas militants in the area.
Peace Now, which monitors settlement construction, said it was the largest Israeli appropriation of West Bank land in 30 years.

Elie Hanna: Palestinian Authority President Abbas to Qatari Emir Tamim: Meshaal is lying / Meshaal: Full partnership in the Palestinian Authority and a Palestinian state within pre-1967 borders (al-Akhbar)
Ibrahim al-Amin, Wafic Qanso, Hassan Ileik, Maha Zureikat: Sayyed Hassan Nasrallah: The Resistance in Gaza is on quest for tangible victory (al-Akhbar)

It is obvious that the Resistance is not looking for a symbolic victory to lift morale or for a face-saving way out, rather it is looking for a real achievement, namely, lifting the siege, even if it is costly. This is a point of strength for the Resistance, first, because it is the wish of all the Resistance factions in Gaza and secondly, because there is a real popular will on the issue of lifting the siege. Perhaps people disagree with Hamas on issues like running the Gaza Strip, power and government, and the factions may disagree in their positions regarding regional events but the question of lifting the siege is a unanimous, popular demand for all Gazans.

Nima Shirazi: Defending Apartheid: Then in South Africa, Now in Palestine (Wide Asleep in America)

In October 1964, Foreign Affairs published the lengthy essay, “In Defense of Apartheid,” by Charles A. W. Manning. Not only did Manning accuse outside meddlers and finger-waggers of refusing to acknowledge South Africa’s right to exist as an apartheid state, he also justified its racist policies as “a heritage from a complicated past.”…
The notion that advocating and legislating in favor of “human rights” and equality would be the death knell of the Israeli state – “national suicide” – perfectly articulates that inherent injustice of Zionism; indeed, it is a self-indicting statement…
In April 1953, on the eve of assembly elections in South Africa, Prime Minister D.F. Malan warned that outside forces – including “the United Nations, Communist Russia… as well as a hostile press” – were “trying to force upon us equality, which must inevitably mean to white South Africa nothing less than national suicide.”…
This sentiment was similarly articulated by Ehud Olmert, then the Israeli Prime Minister, in a 2007 interview with Ha’aretz. “If the day comes when the two-state solution collapses, and we face a South African-style struggle for equal voting rights (also for the Palestinians in the territories),” he said “then, as soon as that happens, the State of Israel is finished.”
Israel and its defenders go to great lengths to insist the “Jewish state” is not an apartheid one. Curious, then, that the only arguments they can muster in their favor are precisely those that were used to apologize for South Africa’s decades of indefensible discrimination and violence.

Lior Dattel: Poll: One-third of Israelis think about leaving (Haaretz)

Some 30 percent of Israelis would seriously consider leaving if they could, according to a poll commissioned by Israel’s Chanel 2, Israeli website Globes reported Sunday.

Adam Hudson: Perpetual war, indefinite detention, and torture: The U.S. and Israel’s shared values (al-Akhbar)

There is a free e-book by Prof Löwstedt, who teaches in Vienna:
Anthony Löwstedt: Apartheid Ancient, Past, and Present. Gross Racist Human Rights Violations in Græco-Roman Egypt, South Africa, Israel/Palestine and Beyond (PDF). With a Foreword by Ilan Pappe, and a Postscript by Richard A. Falk. Wien: Gesellschaft für Phänomenologie und kritische Anthropologie, 2014.

Tariq Ali: Scots, undo this union of rogues. Independence is the only way to fulfil your potential (Guardian)
Scottish independence backed by Plaid Cymru leader (Scotsman)

Ford Sypher: Are American Troops Already Fighting on the Front Lines in Iraq? (Daily Beast)

Lauren Gambino: Huge family detention centre to open in Texas for undocumented migrants (Guardian)

Federal officials are due to open a huge family detention centre in southern Texas that will house immigrant adults with children while they await deportation… Family detention centres operated by private prison companies have a poor track record, especially in Texas…
An obscure provision tucked into the Department of Homeland Security’s spending plan, known as the “bed mandate”, requires law enforcement officials to hold an average of 34,000 immigrants in detention each day. The quota keeps detention centres full, a huge boon for the for-profit corrections companies that get paid per bed. In 2013, … revenue [of the Tennessee-based Corrections Corporation of America (CAA)] nearly topped $1.7bn (£1bn).

Dan Roberts: Trial of four Blackwater security guards hinges on belief, not reality, of a threat (Guardian)

The civilian vehicles caught up in the incident were so riddled with bullets and explosives that their contents could barely be identified, yet the convoy of four armoured vehicles in which the guards were riding was marked only by a handful of tiny dents and scratches of indeterminate origin.
And while the four Blackwater guards on trial for the deaths of 14 of the victims claimed they believed they were under attack by an insurgent car-bombing attempt, no weapons or explosives were found on any of the dead Iraqis, despite an extensive FBI investigation. Instead, the official US investigation led to three men facing manslaughter charges, one accused of murder, and a fifth admitting manslaughter of other victims and testifying against his former colleagues.
But the 12 jurors who sat through harrowing evidence from victims and their relatives were not asked to assess the proportionality of the response. Like so many controversial encounters with security forces the world over, the crux of case is not whether the dead Iraqis posed a threat to the Blackwater convoy, but whether the guards’ belief that they did was a reasonable one.

Palestine | Iraq | Ukraine | Nuclear Era | Korea | USA

Yoav Bar: Lessons from the Gaza War (Free Haifa)

The Israelis say they could conquer Gaza, but they didn’t do it. In fact, they already did it twice, in 1956 and in 1967. When they withdrew from Gaza in 2005 it was without agreement, after they paid a heavy price in two Palestinian intifadas. The fact that Gaza was not occupied again is the combine result of the expected resistance to the act of occupation and the memories of the resistance over 38 years of continued occupation. Any way you count it, the resistance is what keeps Gaza free of direct occupation.

More articles on Palestine:
Serge Halimi: Unfair and unbalanced (Monde diplomatique)

For decades, we have been told that Israel is “responding” or “retaliating”. The story is always that of a peaceful little state, poorly protected, without a single powerful ally, which manages to win through, sometimes without a scratch. And the confrontation always starts at the precise moment when Israel appears as the victim, shocked by misfortune — an abduction, an attack, an act of aggression, an assassination. A commentator will express indignation that rockets are being fired at civilians; then another will argue that the Israeli “response” was much more murderous. Score, one all, ball still in play.
And everything else, everything that matters, is forgotten: the military occupation of the West Bank, the economic blockade of Gaza, the colonisation of the land (1). News channels never take the time to go into details… How many people know, for instance, that between the Six Day war and the Iraq war, between 1967 and 2003, Israel failed to comply with more than a third of all UN Security Council resolutions issued, many of them concerning the colonisation of Palestinian land? A simple ceasefire in Gaza would therefore mean perpetuating a recognised breach of international law.

Alain Gresh: Gaza: Palestine first and last (Monde diplomatique)

More than a thousand Palestinians have been killed in Israel’s latest assault on Gaza, against some 40 Israelis, and the numbers are rising. But Gaza, the birthplace of Palestinian nationalism, has a long history of resistance.

Slavoj Žižek: Rolling in underground tunnels (Mondoweiss)

Today in Gaza, the Israeli military is fighting not only in underground tunnels, but also against the natives of the land. They are fighting not only against Hamas, but also against Palestine itself. They –alongside the West– are fighting against a nation that they have tried to expel from the land for almost 70 years now. They are fighting not only because of these tunnels, but also and precisely to conquer the land within which the tunnels were dug. The refugee camps in Gaza are living evidence of this enormous land robbery…

Special Focus: Gaza under Attack (Institute for Palestine Studies; a collection of recent articles)
Yitzhak Laor: The eternal cycle: Death and destruction in Gaza (Haaretz)

Immediately after the occupation of the territories, Israeli political and intelligence officials began to debate the expulsion of hundreds of thousands of refugees from the Gaza Strip, on the assumption that it would remain under Israeli control: to El-Arish in Sinai, to Iraq, to Morocco…
The Gaza Strip was a thorn in the Zionist imaginaire. No one knew what to do with it…
Eshkol said: “I want them all to go, even if they go to the moon.” …
Occupation engenders resistance. Cruel occupation engenders fierce resistance, and terrorism as well…
Hundreds of Palestinians have been killed and thousands injured in shelling and bombardments since 2004 in Operation Rainbow (May), Operation Days of Penitence (September-October), Operation Summer Rains (June-November 2006) and Operation Hot Winter (February-March 2008). Those with a short memory, who live only the last war, remember at least the atrocity the Olmert government brought to a peak in Operation Cast Lead (winter of 2008-09). There was never any real link between the events and the “responses” of the Israel Defense Forces. They were always opportunities for rampages…
The crueler the oppression became, the more extreme the resistance that followed.

Evo Morales endorses BDS, calls Israel a terrorist state (BDS Movement) / Más de 500 personalidades del mundo condenan ofensiva de Israel (Jornada)
Yitzhak Laor: Eliminating the Palestinians as a political entity (Haaretz)

The [Israeli] government is intent on destroying every political entity in the West Bank and turning the Palestinians into a marginalized, fragmented people.

Holocaust survivors condemn Israel for ‘Gaza massacre,’ call for boycott (Haaretz)

In response to Elie Wiesel advertisement comparing Hamas to Nazis, 327 Jewish Holocaust survivors and descendants publish New York Times ad accusing Israel of ‘ongoing massacre of the Palestinian people.’ …
“We must raise our collective voices and use our collective power to bring about an end to all forms of racism, including the ongoing genocide of Palestinian people. We call for an immediate end to the siege against and blockade of Gaza. We call for the full economic, cultural and academic boycott of Israel. “Never again” must mean NEVER AGAIN FOR ANYONE!”

Gideon Levy, Alex Levac: Behind the IDF shooting of a 10-year-old boy (Haaretz)

It’s not clear why an Israeli soldier shot Khalil Anati in the Al-Fawar refugee camp. What is clear is that the shooter didn’t stay around long enough to offer assistance, or to watch the boy die…
Khalil Anati was 10 years and eight months old and came from the Al-Fawar refugee camp, south of Hebron in the West Bank, when he was killed. An Israeli soldier had opened the door of his armored jeep, picked up his rifle, aimed it at the upper body of the boy, who was running with his back to the soldier, and cut him down with one bullet, fired from a distance of a few dozen meters.

Stephanie Nebehay, Allyn Fisher-Ilan: Palestinian children tortured, used as shields by Israel: U.N. (Reuters)

Palestinian children in the Gaza and the West Bank, captured by Israel in the 1967 war, are routinely denied registration of their birth and access to health care, decent schools and clean water, the U.N. Committee on the Rights of the Child said.
“Palestinian children arrested by (Israeli) military and police are systematically subject to degrading treatment, and often to acts of torture, are interrogated in Hebrew, a language they did not understand, and sign confessions in Hebrew in order to be released,” it said in a report.

Palestinian teen: I was used as a human shield in Gaza (+972)
Gideon Levy: The difference between children / ישראל מתחבאת מאחורי דניאל (Haaretz)

After the first child, nobody batted an eye; after the 50th not even a slight tremor was felt in a plane’s wing; after the 100th, they stopped counting; after the 200th, they blamed Hamas. After the 300th child they blamed the parents. After the 400th child, they invented excuses; after (the first) 478 children nobody cares.
Then came our first child and Israel went into shock…
An iron wall of denial and inhumanness protects the Israelis from the shameful work of their hands in Gaza…
We must admit the truth: Palestinian children in Israel are considered like insects. This is a horrific statement, but there is no other way to describe the mood in Israel in the summer of 2014.

John Jackson: What if Hamas fired rockets at Britain? (+972)

When Israeli spokesmen defend the IDF’s actions in Gaza by asking what you would do if rockets rained down on your home, the example of Northern Ireland can serve as one response.

PFLP salutes the Black struggle in the US: The empire will fall from within (Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine)

Comrade Khaled Barakat said in an interview with the PFLP media outlets that “Police brutality, oppression and murder against Black people in the U.S., and against Latinos, Arabs and Muslims, people of color and poor people, has never been merely ‘mistakes’ or ‘violations of individual rights’ but rather are part and parcel of an integral and systematic racism that reflects the nature of the political system in the U.S.”
“Every time a crime is committed against Black people, it is explained away as an ‘isolated incident’ but when you see the massive number of ‘isolated incidents’ the reality cannot be hidden – this is an ongoing policy that remains virulently racist and oppressive. The U.S. empire was built on the backs of Black slavery and the genocide of Black people – and upon settler colonialism and the genocide of indigenous people,” said Barakat. “The people of Ferguson are resisting, in a long tradition of Black resistance, and we support their legitimate resistance to racist oppression.”

Amid fierce debate, members of German think tank take a stand on Gaza (MondoWeiss) / Erklärung einiger RLS-Stipendiat_innen, Ehemaliger, Vertrauensdozent_innen und Mitarbeiter_innen der Rosa Luxemburg Stiftung zum Gaza-Krieg (Inamo)

Justin Raimondo: ISIS: Made in Washington, Riyadh – and Tel Aviv (Information Clearing House)

ISIS didn’t just arise out of the earth like some Islamist variation on the fabled Myrmidons: they needed money, weapons, logistics, propaganda facilities, and international connections to reach the relatively high level of organization and lethality they seem to have achieved in such a short period of time. Where did they get these assets?
None of this is any secret: Saudi Arabia, Qatar, and the rest of the oil-rich Gulf states have been backing them all the way. Prince Bandar al-Sultan, until recently the head of the Kingdom’s intelligence agency – and still the chief of its National Security Council – has been among their biggest backers. Qatar and the Gulf states have also been generous in their support for the Syrian jihadists who were too radical for the US to openly back. Although pressure from Washington – only recently exerted – has reportedly forced them to cut off the aid, ISIS is now an accomplished fact – and how can anyone say that support has entirely evaporated instead of merely going underground?

Volodymyr Ishchenko: Ukraine’s Fractures (New Left Review)

I wouldn’t claim that Ukraine is more of a democracy than the other countries—better to say it’s a more competitive authoritarian regime. The political system that emerged in Ukraine was from the outset more pluralistic than those of, say, Russia, Kazakhstan or Belarus. One of the main reasons for this was the country’s cultural diversity: there were very significant regional differences between the east and the west, and these were reflected in electoral outcomes from the 1990s onwards. Any candidate who won the presidential elections would not be seen as legitimate by almost half the population, who would immediately voice strong opposition to him. The strength of regional identities also tended to politicize socio-economic questions very quickly. This was one reason why the neoliberal reforms were not carried out as rapidly as in Russia, for example—the political forces behind them were unable to build up the same kind of momentum. The difference is also apparent in Ukraine’s constitutional system, which was much less presidential than those of the other post-Soviet states. In Russia, 1993 was clearly a crucial moment, when Yeltsin imposed his will on parliament by force, sending the army into Moscow. Nothing like this happened in Ukraine.

Noam Chomsky: How Many Minutes to Midnight? On the Nuclear Era and Armageddon (Asia-Pacific Journal) / 「午前0時まで、あと何分?」~核時代とアルマゲドン (原子力発電 原爆の子)

If some extraterrestrial species were compiling a history of homo sapiens, they might well break their calendar into two eras: BNW (before nuclear weapons) and NEW, the nuclear weapons era. The latter era of course opened on August 6 1945, the first day of the countdown to what may be the inglorious end of this strange species, which attained the intelligence to discover effective means to destroy itself, but, so the evidence suggests, not the moral and intellectual capacity to control their worst instincts.

“His latest book, Masters of Mankind, will be published soon by Haymarket Books,” they say. Actually, the German translation came out in March already: Die Herren der Welt. Vienna: Promedia, 2014.

Mel Gurtov: Time for the U.S. to Engage North Korea (Asia-Pacific Journal)

Sticks and carrots won’t get North Korea to give up its nukes. But a willingness to negotiate a peace treaty and provide security guarantees might.

Jordan Sargent: Cop Pens Touching Op-Ed: Do Everything I Say and I Won’t Kill You (Gawker)

Even though it might sound harsh and impolitic, here is the bottom line: if you don’t want to get shot, tased, pepper-sprayed, struck with a baton or thrown to the ground, just do what I tell you.

Ukraine | Egypt | Colombia | Iraq | Israel/Palestine | USA

Avedis Hadjian: Back in the USSR (Monde diplomatique)

It has looked like civil war in Ukraine, yet most Ukrainians don’t want any such thing, as shown by the 25 May election results. And pro-Russian separatists in the east mostly want to return to their old Soviet life.

Tariq Ali: Diary (London Review of Books)

Conversations in Cairo are punctuated by dates: 11 February (Mubarak’s fall), 24 June (Morsi’s election), 30 June (Sisi’s coup), which takes a bit of getting used to…
During and after the uprising Mubarak’s name stood for amorality, cynicism, duplicity, corruption, greed and opportunism. A few months after Morsi’s triumph at the polls, the same adjectives were being used to describe his rule, and soon it was being said that he was worse than Mubarak – a grotesque overstatement. The reality is that the Muslim Brotherhood, its supreme guide and its elected president were visionless sectarians, incapable of fulfilling the central demand of the uprising: ‘an end to the regime’. Morsi had no desire to unite the country by full-blooded democratisation: his ambition was to be an Islamist Mubarak.

Wilhelm Langthaler: Legitimizing the Pharaoh (Anti-Imperialist Camp)

Martin Chulov: Iran sends troops into Iraq to aid fight against Isis militants (Guardian)

Tehran hints at cooperation with US to aid Nouri al-Maliki as jihadist group threatens to take Baghdad … Iran has sent 2,000 advance troops to Iraq in the past 48 hours to help tackle a jihadist insurgency, a senior Iraqi official has told the Guardian.

Martin Chulov: How an arrest in Iraq revealed Isis’s $2bn jihadist network (Guardian)
Florian Rötzer: ISIL bringt die Geopolitik durcheinander (Telepolis)
Rainer Hermann: Die Rache des Kreuz-Königs (Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung)
Rainer Hermann: Die Sunniten vereinen sich zum Aufstand gegen Bagdad (Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung)
Wilhelm Langthaler: Die Rache des „irakischen Widerstands“ (Anti-Imperialist Camp)
And the poodle yaps:
Patrick Wintour, Tracy McVeigh, Mark Townsend: Tony Blair: west must intervene in Iraq (Guardian)

Larry Jagan: Suu Kyi shifts pre-election tack in Myanmar (Asia Times)

After two years of delicate accommodation, Myanmars military backed government and the main pro-democracy opposition National League for Democracy (NLD) are on a collusion course ahead of general elections scheduled for next year. An NLD-led campaign launched last month to amend the 2008 constitution is openly challenging the militarys political power and testing political stability ahead of the pivotal polls.

Nauman Asghar: Rohingya abuses expose Myanmar insecurities (Asia Times)

Hundreds of Muslims have been killed and more than 100,000 forced to flee their homes. Eighty percent of the population of the country consists of Buddhists, and Ashin Wirathu, the monk leader of the violent “969” movement, has attempted to justify lynching of Muslims in the name of defending Buddhism against the encroaching influence of Islam.
Ashin Wirathu’s claim appears absurd if we consider that Muslims constitute only 5% of Myanmar’s population…
Rohingyas, largely to be found in the western Rakhine State, were full citizens of Myanmar until 1982 when the military rulers deprived them of their status of citizenship by enacting legislation and hence compounded their miseries. As a stateless community, the Rohingyas don’t have access to state services and they are also denied political representation.
The Rohingyas face discriminatory treatment at all levels of interaction with the state. The minority have been subjected to discriminatory population control measures and travel restrictions. The Rohingyas are also required by law to seek from authorities a permission certificate for marriage…
The recent transition to democracy in Myanmar has not eased the situation for Rohingyas and no political leader in Myanmar has condemned the Buddhist violence in unequivocal terms. Aung Sun Auu Kyi, the Nobel Peace Prize winner, also keeps mum, as she does not want to spoil her chances of securing the presidency next year by alienating the majority group.

William Barnes: Activist, racial angst in Myanmar (Asia Times)

None of the interviewees claimed intimate knowledge of the private thoughts of opposition leader Aung San Suu Kyi or indeed of the still-powerful generals. They were confident, however, that in the minds of the elite, Islam was an unwanted and unbidden complication.
This might help to explain why the Nobel peace prize winning democracy heroine Suu Kyi has notably failed to embrace the notion of Muslim “victimhood” in her homeland. It also shines light on prominent pro-democracy activist and former political prisoner Ko Ko Gyi’s proclamation that the Rohingya should not be considered an ethnic nationality of Myanmar.

Tom Farrell: The axis of Buddhist extremism (Asia Times)

Separated by race, language and the vastness of the Bay of Bengal, there is a striking convergence in the rhetoric of Myanmar’s and Sri Lanka’s Buddhist fundamentalist groups. Both fizz with triumphalism, belligerence and a fierce persecution complex. …
Sri Lanka is emerging from decades of ruinous civil war; Myanmar from decades of sclerotic military rule. Already resented by the majority Buddhist population during each country’s colonial period, Muslims in both nations bore the brunt of government or insurgent-led excesses after independence.
In Myanmar, alone out of the nation’s 135 officially recognized ethnicities, the Rohingya Muslim minority were stripped of their citizenship by General Ne Win’s ruling junta. Military operations in 1978 and 1991 sent hundreds of thousands of Rohingya fleeing into neighboring Bangladesh.
In Sri Lanka, Tamil insurgents expelled 60,000 Muslims from the rebel mini-state they established in the country’s north after 1990.

Peter Beaumont: Palestinian parliamentary speaker arrested in search for kidnapped teens (Guardian)

Israeli troops have arrested the speaker of the Palestinian parliament and Hamas member Aziz Dweik during a wave of detentions linked to a massive manhunt for three kidnapped teenagers.
An Israeli army statement on Monday said more than 40 suspects in the West Bank, “including Hamas leadership and operatives”, had been arrested, bringing the total number of arrests in the search to at least 150.

Alain Gresh: What’s mine is mine; what’s yours is negotiable (Monde diplomatique)

The US, chief guarantor for the Israeli-Palestinian talks for decades, is so habitually and instinctually pro-Israel that it can’t understand that the Palestinians even have a viewpoint, let alone what it is.

Ayelet Waldman: The Shame of Shuhada Street (Atlantic)

Chris Hedges: American Socrates (TruthDig)

We live in a bleak moment in human history. And Chomsky begins from this reality. He quoted the late Ernst Mayr, a leading evolutionary biologist of the 20th century who argued that we probably will never encounter intelligent extraterrestrials because higher life forms render themselves extinct in a relatively short time.

Scott Horton: The Guantánamo “Suicides” (Harper’s Magazine, March 2010)
Scott Horton: Amy Goodman, Nermeen Shaykh: The Guantánamo “Suicides” Revisited: Did CIA Hide Deaths of Tortured Prisoners at Secret Site? (Democracy Now)
Mark Denbeaux, Charles Church, Ryan K Gallagher, Adam Kirchner, Joshua Wirtshafter: Uncovering the Cover Ups: Death Camp in Delta (Seton Hall Public Law Research Papers, 15 May 2014)
Christopher Brauchli: Compassionate Torture (CounterPunch)

On May 23, 2014 a federal court entered an order permitting the folks at Guantanamo to continue force-feeding Abu Wa’el Dhiab so that he won’t die. Mr. Dhiab, a Syrian national, was captured in Pakistan 12 years ago and has been at Guantanamo ever since. He has not been charged with any crime and was cleared for transfer five years ago. At first he was not released because the government worried about how he’d be treated in Syria and later because of the civil war taking place there. Mr. Dhiab does not want to be at Guantanamo. He would rather be dead. Accordingly he has engaged in a hunger strike.

Carl Gibson: Pepper Spray Cop’s Settlement Sets Dangerous Precedent (Reader Supported News)

Lt. John Pike of the UC Davis police pepper-sprayed a group of sitting protesters in 2011. Amidst an autumn of federally-coordinated, violent police suppression of the Occupy movement, the incident in Davis was clearly one of the most heinous cases. A group of students had linked arms, sat down, and refused to move when the police came to evict their encampment. Lt. John Pike then casually exhibited a red can of military-grade pepper spray, nonchalantly strolled past the protesters, and doused them in orange gas, which led to the hospitalization several of the students. International outrage ensued. “Pepper Spraying Cop” became a widely-shared meme, and Pike was originally put on paid leave and eventually fired. The students sued, and a $1 million settlement was split between all 21 of them. Pike was just awarded $38,058 in disability payments, after claiming he suffered “emotional and psychological damage” from his attack on UC Davis students.

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)