Netherlands | February 1917 | Morocco | USA

Jon Henley: Dutch PM Mark Rutte sees off election threat of Geert Wilders (Guardian)

The Dutch prime minister, Mark Rutte, has seen off a challenge from the anti-Islam populist Geert Wilders to claim a resounding victory in parliamentary elections widely seen as a test for resurgent nationalism before other key European polls.
With nearly 95% of votes counted and no further significant changes expected, Rutte’s centre-right, liberal VVD was assured of 33 MPs, by far the largest party in the 150-seat Dutch parliament, the national news agency ANP said.
Wilders’ Freedom party (PVV) looked certain to finish second, but a long way behind on 20 seats, just ahead of the Christian Democrat CDA and liberal-progressive D66, which both ended third with 19 seats.

Jon Henley: GreenLeft proves to be big winner in Dutch election (Guardian)

The big winner of Wednesday’s election – and now the largest party of the Dutch left for the first time – was GreenLeft, headed by 30-year-old Jesse Klaver, hailed by his enthusiastic supporters as the “Jessiah”…
[T]he party – formed 25 years ago by a merger of communists, pacifists, evangelicals and self-styled radicals – boosted its MPs from four to 14 after a storming campaign by [Jesse] Klaver.

Kevin Murphy: The Story of the February Revolution (Jacobin)

That the most important strike in world history started with women textile workers in Petrograd on International Women’s Day 1917 (February 23 in the old Julian calendar) was no coincidence. Working up to thirteen hours a day while their husbands and sons were at the front, these women were saddled with a life of singlehandedly supporting their families and waiting in line for hours in the subzero cold in hopes of getting bread… “No propaganda was necessary to incite these women to action.” …
By evening, the Vyborg side was controlled by the rebels. Demonstrators had sacked the police stations, captured revolvers and sabers from tsarist sentinels, and forced the police and gendarmes to flee…
The paradox of the February Revolution was that while it swept away tsarism, it replaced it with a government of unelected liberals who were horrified by the very revolution that had placed them in power.

Aidan O’Brien: The Empire’s Fifth Column in Africa: Morocco (CounmterPunch)

In 1984 Morocco turned it’s back on Africa because the Organisation of African Unity refused to support it’s 1975 conquest of Western Sahara. For the next few decades Morocco followed the example of apartheid Israel and looked only towards Europe and America. Morocco, for example, applied (and failed) to join the European Economic Community in 1987. While today (since 2008) it is considered an “advanced” EU neighbour. And militarily it became a NATO partner in 1994 and a major non-NATO US ally in 2004.
Morocco in other words did everything it could to be an honorary white man: it shamelessly raped part of Africa and looked down on the black man. And the white man rewarded it by investing in it.
A few weeks ago however (January 31, 2017) Morocco suddenly rejoined Africa. In Addis Ababa the African Union decided to accept Morocco as a member, even though Western Sahara remains in Moroccan hands. Why the sudden change of policy in Morocco and in the African Union? In a word: the killing of Muammar Gaddafi.
The present scramble for Africa is the overall reason. But Gaddafi was the last pan African barrier to Western imperialism 2.0 in Africa. His removal opened the floodgates to 21st century Western power in Africa. The French are now back in Mali. AFRICOM (the US military) is all over the place. And now Morocco wants to be African again.

Dave Lindorff: WikiLeaks’ Latest CIA Data Dump Undermines Case Against Russia Election Hack (CounterPunch)

The so-called Deep State and Democratic Party campaign to demonize Russia for allegedly “hacking the US election,” and delivering the country into the hands of Donald Trump suffered a huge and probably mortal blow this week with the release by WikiLeaks of over 7000 secret CIA documents disclosing secret CIA hacking technologies.
The case being made against Russia as being the source of leaked emails of the Democratic National Committee and of Clinton Campaign Chair John Podesta — documents that proved that the DNC had been corrupting the primary process in favor of corporatist candidate Hillary Clinton and undermining the campaign of Vermont Senator Bernie Sanders, and that also revealed the embarrassing contents of Clinton’s highly paid secret speeches to a number of giant Wall Street banks — had always been tenuous, with no hard evidence ever presented. All the intelligence agencies would say was that they had a “high degree of certainty,” or “strong reason to believe” that the Russians were the source of the deeply damaging documents late in the campaign season.
Adding to doubts that Russia had actually hacked the DNC was WikiLeaks itself, which insisted that it had obtained the DNC and Podesta emails not from a hack of computers, but from an internal DNC staffer who actually pulled them off computers with a thumb drive and provided them to the organization — a person later identified as Seth Rich, who was mysteriously murdered on his way home from DNC headquarters in Washington, shot in the back at night in an unsolved case that the local police quickly labeled a “botched burglary,” although nothing was taken from his body by his assailant — not his wallet or watch even. (Wikileaks has offered a $20,000 reward for information that helps solve that uninvestigated case.)

Oliver Ortega: Before Trump, the Border Wall Was a Bipartisan Project (CounterPunch)

Rightwing fantasies of a southern border wall are not new. Nor are they limited to Republicans or Trump supporters.
When President Trump signed an executive order last week to complete a wall along the 2,000 mile border with Mexico, he was building on decades of bipartisan consensus among lawmakers.
In fact, Congress had already approved a border wall not too long ago. In 2006, legislators—including many Democrats—passed the Secure Fence Act, which called for 700 miles of double-fence construction along certain stretches of the border. Trump cited the Bush-era law in the first paragraph of the executive order he signed Wednesday as rationale for his executive authority to order a wall be built.
Many of the same democratic leaders now bemoaning Trump’s wall voted for one at the time— Hillary Clinton, Joe Biden, Chuck Schumer, Dianne Feinstein.
Then-Senator Barack Obama, who as President would later deport a record-high 3 million people during his two terms, lauded the bill on the Senate floor, saying it would “help stem some of the tide of illegal immigration in this country.” …
Some on the left have taken the border with Mexico as a given. Rather than focusing on whether it should be a wall or a fence, its length or thickness, a more useful exercise would be to reframe the parameters of debate by asking whether there should be a border at all.

Melvin Goodman: Return of the Torturers: Back to the Crime Scenes of the Past (CounterPunch)

The Trump administration has signaled that it is willing to return to the heinous crimes of the past two decades, including torture and abuse, secret prisons, and extraordinary renditions. …
Perhaps if former president Barack Obama had sought accountability and responsibility for the crimes of torture, then we would not be witness to the return of war criminals to positions of responsibility.

Thailand | Egypt | Israel

John Cole, Steve Sciacchitano: Coup calculations in Thailand (Asia Times)

With hundreds of thousands of anti-government protesters occupying large swathes of the national capital and a series of shadowy armed attacks on their encampments, speculation is rising that Thailand could be on the brink of another military coup. A similar protest movement paved the way for the September 2006 putsch that overthrew former Prime Minister Thaksin Shinawatra’s [ทักษิณ ชินวัตร tʰáksǐn tɕʰinnáwát] administration. But the situation now is substantially more complicated, militating against the prospect of another army-led takeover.
During his more than three years as commander of the Royal Thai Army (RTA), General Prayuth Chan-ocha [ประยุทธ์ จันทร์โอชา pràjút tɕanʔoːtɕʰaː] has earned the reputation for sometimes speaking before thinking. Most recently, the military leader caused a stir when, after several weeks of ruling out a military intervention in Thailand’s escalating political crisis, he cryptically told reporters that he could neither open nor close the door to a future military coup.

Salma Shukrallah: Egypt’s constitution: Who’s backing it and why? (al-Ahram)

Unlike the former constitutional referendum in 2012, which saw an obvious split between Islamists and non-Islamists, polarisation has grown more complicated ahead of the upcoming constitutional referendum.

Other groups also opposing Morsi during his year in power saw the articles related to military as reason to reject constitution. Member groups of the Way of the Revolution Front, who position themselves as anti-Brotherhood and anti-military, including the April 6 youth movement, the Revolutionary Socialists and the Strong Egypt Party announced they would vote ‘no’ to the amended constitution.
The articles groups rejected include that allowing military trials of civilians, that which prevents Defence Minister Abdel-Fattah El-Sisi from being removed for two consecutive terms as well as others.
The Strong Egypt Party for its part also stated it rejected the whole context in which the constitutional amendments and referendum are taking place.
“Despite our participation on 30 June [in mass protests against the Brotherhood’s Mohamed Morsi], we are against 3 July [the day Morsi was announced ousted by army chief El-Sisi, backed by political and religious figures and a new roadmap was declared] and the consequences that followed…since then there has also been an increase in violence and repression,” Mohamed Osman of the Strong Egypt Party told Ahram Online.

The Front of the Revolutionary Path (or Way of the Revolution Front) apparently doesn’t have a website of its own, just a Facebook page and a Twitter account.
No to a constitution that does not realize the aims of the revolution (Thuwwār/Facebook)
There’s an article about them on Wikipedia in English:
Road of the Revolution Front (Wikipedia)

Amy Goodman, Rashid Khalidi, Noam Chomsky, Avi Shlaim: <a href="http://www.democracynow.org/2014/1/13/noam_chomsky_on_the_legacy_of Noam Chomsky on the Legacy of Ariel Sharon: "Not Speaking Ill of the Dead "Imposes a Vow of Silence" / Sabra & Shatila Massacre That Forced Sharon’s Ouster Recalls Worst of Jewish Pogroms / For Peace Today, US Must End Support for Sharon’s Expansionist Legacy (Democracy Now)

Among Palestinians, Sharon was one of the most reviled political figures in the history of the Israel-Palestine conflict. He’s seen as father of the settlement movement, an architect of the Israeli invasion of Lebanon, which killed a reported 20,000 Palestinians and Lebanese. An Israeli commission of inquiry found Sharon had indirect responsibility for the massacre of over a thousand Palestinian refugees at the Sabra and Shatila camps in Lebanon in 1982.

Saed Bannoura: European legislators threatened with arrest by Israeli authorities (International Middle East Media Center)

Israeli Minister of Defense Moshe Ya’alon declared, on Tuesday, that former British International Development Secretary Clare Short and three other European legislators would be arrested if they try to come to Israel, due to their involvement in a European-Palestinian organization calling for an end to the Israeli siege on Gaza.

Omar Barghouti: Is BDS’ campaign against Israel reaching a turning point? (AlJazeera)

At the height of its military – particularly nuclear – and economic power, Israel is feeling uncharacteristically vulnerable; but this time the threat is ironically coming from a nonviolent movement anchored in international law and the Universal Declaration of Human Rights. Last June, Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu effectively declared the Palestinian-led global Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions (BDS) movement a “strategic threat” to Israel’s regime of occupation, colonisation and apartheid by deciding to assign the overall responsibility for fighting against the BDS to the ministry of strategic affairs.
This dramatic shift reflects the failure of Israel’s well-oiled “Brand Israel” campaign, run by the foreign ministry since BDS was launched in 2005, which sees culture as a propaganda tool and whose logic is to use Israeli artists and writers to show the world “Israel’s prettier face”.

Herb Keinon: Foreign Ministry summons Dutch ambassador over pension fund divestment (Jerusalem Post)

For the second time in the last month and-a-half Israels Foreign Ministry on Friday summoned the Dutch ambassador to protest a large Dutch company’s decision to sever ties with Israel.
Deputy Director General for European Affairs Raffi Schutz told the Dutch ambassador that the decision of PGGM pension fund to divest from Israel is unacceptable and relies on false pretenses. …
PGGM is among the Netherlands’ largest pension fund managers, with assets in excess of €153 billion ($210b.). Its dealing with Israeli banks amounts to tens of millions of euros, according to Haaretz.
It is the latest in a string of large Dutch companies that have cut off ties with Israeli entities.
Last month Dutch water giant Vitens canceled cooperation with Israel’s water corporation Mekorot because of alleged infractions of international law.

Ahmed Moor: Sharon: The architect of terror (AlJazeera)

In many ways, Ariel Sharon was the most complete Zionist of his generation. He embodied an expansionary, rapacious view of Jewish privilege in Palestine – the essential Zionism – well after many of his co-religionists had claimed to settle for less…
Sharon’s daring and willingness to lead attacks against civilians marked him for command among his fellows. In 1953, he orchestrated the massacre of 69 Palestinian civilians in Qibya while leading “Unit 101” – an infamous Israeli army unit dedicated to extracting high civilian costs among Palestinian communities that resisted the ethnic cleansing of Palestine. The murders of mostly women and children served to foreshadow Sharon’s responsibility for Sabra and Shatila decades later…
Israel’s invasion of Lebanon in 1982 was ostensibly designed to prevent Palestine Liberation Organization (PLO) guerrillas from striking Israeli outposts near the Lebanon-Israel border. His forces shelled and besieged Beirut while world powers negotiated an end to the devastation. The Israelis agreed to withdraw in return for Yasser Arafat’s exile to Tunisia. Arafat and his fighters were forced to abandon the Sabra and Shatila refugee camps – densely populated and impoverished urban ghettos on the outskirts of Beirut. The civilians there were left defenceless against the Israelis and their allies, the Lebanese Phalange militia. After the departure of the PLO, Sharon invited the Phalangists into the camps where they spent two days massacring approximately 3,000 Palestinian and Lebanese men, women and children…
Jewish-Israelis initially rejected Sharon’s sectarian brutality and war crimes, if not his objectives. A governmental panel censured him and forced him to resign from his post as minister of defence after investigating his role in Sabra and Shatila.

Seth Anziska: A Preventable Massacre (New York Times, 16 September 2012)