Thailand | Nigeria | Ukraine | Korea | Indonesia

Giles Ji Ungpakorn (tɕaj ɯ́ŋ pʰaː kɔːn ใจอึ๊งภากรณ์): Thailand: Judicial coup a blow to democracy (tʰaj sǎŋkʰomníjom ไทย สังคมนิยม / Red Thai Socialist)

Thailand’s unelected, anti-democratic and illegitimate Constitutional Court has staged a coup d’etat, overthrowing Prime Minister Yingluck Shinawatra on a mere technicality. It claims the elected prime minister did not have the right to replace a government official.
It is a mere technicality because she is accused of “abusing her power” to appoint an in-law to the vacant position. Yingluk has been accused of this ridiculous “wrongdoing”, but those who made the 2006 military coup and the Democrat Party politicians who killed scores of pro-democracy demonstrators enjoy impunity. …
The Constitutional Court is part of an alliance of the conservative elite. The alliance is made up of the military, the top bureaucrats, the courts, the Democrat Party, the middle classes and the NGOs. These are the guilty people who have promoted the destruction of democracy.
Since the end of last year, violent right-wing anti-democratic mobs have openly used violence, including the use of fire arms, to wreck the February elections. At the same time, middle-class academics and NGO leaders have joined a disgusting chorus of hypocritical calls for an appointed prime minister and measures to restrict the democratic franchise in the name of “peace”.

Peter Symonds: Thailand’s judicial coup (World Socialist Web Site)

The judicial ousting of the Thai prime minister this week is a sharp warning to workers of the turn to anti-democratic methods of rule by the ruling classes, not only in Thailand, but internationally.
In a nakedly political decision on Wednesday, the Constitutional Court ordered the removal of Yingluck Shinawatra on the spurious grounds that she had replaced a national security adviser with one of her own supporters. While acknowledging that the prime minister had acted within her powers, the court declared that by appointing a relative she had violated “moral principle.”

Tom Peters: Thailand: Ex-PM faces impeachment on bogus “negligence” charge (World Socialist Web Site)

The National Anti-Corruption Commission (NACC) yesterday upheld charges against ousted Prime Minister Yingluck Shinawatra that she “neglected her duty” by allowing financial losses linked to her government’s rice buying scheme. The NACC recommended that the Senate impeach Yingluck, and ban her from politics for five years.
The ruling follows the Constitutional Court’s removal of Yingluck from office on Wednesday on the equally bogus charge that she violated “moral principle” by transferring the National Security Council chief from his post in order to promote a relative. Nine cabinet ministers who approved the transfer were also removed.

Tony Iltis: Nigeria: Hypocritical West exploits Boko Haram’s crimes (Green Left Weekly)

More than 270 female secondary students were kidnapped on April 14 as they sat matriculation exams in the north-east Nigerian town of Chibok.
The kidnappers were members of a religious cult that calls itself Jama‘at Ahl as-Sunnah lid-[D]a‘wa wal-Jihad — Arabic for Congregation of the People of Tradition for Proselytism and Jihad.
The group is more commonly known by its Hausa nickname, Boko Haram, which translate — very loosely — as “Western education is filthy”, although this is not a name that the group itself uses.
For the next fortnight the kidnapping was largely ignored by the global media and the Nigerian state.
Nigerian President Goodluck Jonathan was more focused on the World Economic Forum (WEF) meeting in the capital Abuja staring May 7. Jonathan was planning to spin Nigeria to visiting global political and corporate leaders as a neoliberal success story, boosted by the April 7 announcement that Nigeria had overtaken South Africa as the continent’s largest economy. …
[B]y the time the WEF meeting started, the government had accepted military assistance from the US, Britain, France, Canada and China. US military, police and intelligence forces were already in the country. …
Just like the Kony 2012 campaign failed to contextualise the violence of the Lord’s Resistance Army, outside of Nigeria the #BringBackOurGirls campaign and the accompanying media campaign have ignored the context in which Boko Haram emerged.

Jean Shaoul: Nigeria: Boko Haram kidnappings used to justify US military build-up in Africa (World Socialist Web Site)
Xavier Best: Nigeria, Boko Haram & Fantasies of Benevolent Intervention (CounterPunch)

John sent these links:
Simon Denyer, Anna Nemstova: Residents oEastern Ukrainians vote for self-rule in referendum opposed by West (Washington Post)

Residents of two regions of eastern Ukraine turned out in significant numbers Sunday to vote in support of self-rule in a referendum that threatens to deepen divisions in a country already heading perilously toward civil war. …
Both the European Union and the Obama administration said they would not recognize the results of the balloting in the Donetsk and Luhansk regions, which they called illegal.

Associated Press: Armed men in eastern Ukraine open fire on crowd (Washington Post)

Armed men identified as Ukrainian national guard opened fire Sunday on a crowd outside a town hall in eastern Ukraine, and an official for the region’s insurgents said there were fatalities.
The bloodshed in the town of Krasnoarmeisk occurred hours after dozens of armed men shut down voting in a referendum on sovereignty for the region. One of them identified the group as being national guardsmen.

UkraineCrisisEnglish: May 11, Krasnoarmeysk: Ukrainian “army” shoots unarmed people (YouTube)
More on Ukraine:
Slavoj Žižek: Barbarism with a Human Face (London Review of Books)

Again and again in television reports on the mass protests in Kiev against the Yanukovich government, we saw images of protesters tearing down statues of Lenin. It was an easy way to demonstrate anger: the statues functioned as a symbol of Soviet oppression, and Putin’s Russia is perceived as continuing the Soviet policy of Russian domination of its neighbours. Bear in mind that it was only in 1956 that Lenin’s statues started to proliferate throughout the Soviet Union: until then, statues of Stalin were much more common. But after Krushchev’s ‘secret’ denunciation of Stalin at the 20th Congress of the Communist Party, Stalin’s statues were replaced en masse by Lenin’s: Lenin was literally a stand-in for Stalin. …
There was nonetheless a historical irony in watching Ukrainians tearing down Lenin’s statues as a sign of their will to break with Soviet domination and assert their national sovereignty. The golden era of Ukrainian national identity was not tsarist Russia – where Ukrainian national self-assertion was thwarted – but the first decade of the Soviet Union, when Soviet policy in a Ukraine exhausted by war and famine was ‘indigenisation’. Ukrainian culture and language were revived, and rights to healthcare, education and social security introduced. Indigenisation followed the principles formulated by Lenin in quite unambiguous terms: “The proletariat cannot but fight against the forcible retention of the oppressed nations within the boundaries of a given state, and this is exactly what the struggle for the right of self-determination means. The proletariat must demand the right of political secession for the colonies and for the nations that ‘its own’ nation oppresses. Unless it does this, proletarian internationalism will remain a meaningless phrase; mutual confidence and class solidarity between the workers of the oppressing and oppressed nations will be impossible.*”

Chris Marsden: US, Europe issue further threats over self-rule referenda in eastern Ukraine (World Socialist Web Site)
Mike Head: Mariupol killings: US backs Ukrainian regime’s reign of terror (World Socialist Web Site)
Katie Engelhart: To Understand What’s Really Happening in Ukraine, Follow the Gas Lines on This Map (PolicyMic)
Verena Nees: Grüne schüren Konflikt mit Russland (World Socialist Web Site)
William Blum: The Myth of Soviet Expansionism (CounterPunch)
David North: In the service of imperialism: Right-wing “intellectuals” gather in Kiev (World Socialist Web Site)

A group of right-wing academics, journalists, pro-war human-rights activists, and specialists in “discourse” is gathering in Kiev this coming weekend (May 16–19). The purpose of the meeting—headed by Professor Timothy Snyder of Yale University and Leon Wieseltier, the neo-con literary editor of the New Republic—is to bestow political and moral respectability on the Ukrainian regime that came to power in February, through a putsch financed and directed by the United States and Germany…
Back in the 1960s, intellectuals who had participated in the Cold War’s anti-communist Congress for Cultural Freedom were somewhat chagrined when the operations of that organization were publicly linked to the machinations of the Central Intelligence Agency. In those days, to be seen collaborating with the CIA and other state intelligence agencies was considered harmful to one’s intellectual and moral reputation. Tempi passati! The participants of the Kiev assembly are entirely unabashed by the obvious fact that they are part of an event endorsed and stage managed by governments that were heavily involved in the overthrow of the Yanukovych government.

Vice President Joe Biden’s son joins Ukraine gas company (BBC)

Burisma, a private oil and gas company in Ukraine, announced this week that it has appointed Hunter Biden, the youngest son of US Vice President Joe Biden, to its board of directors. …
The move has raised some eyebrows in the US, given the Obama administration’s attempts to manage the ongoing crisis in Ukraine.
“Joe Biden has been the White House’s go-to guy during the Ukraine crisis, touring former Soviet republics and reassuring their concerned leaders,” writes the National Journal’s Marina Koren. “And now, he’s not the only Biden involved in the region.” …
The younger Mr Biden isn’t the only American with political ties to have recently joined Burisma’s board. Devon Archer, a former senior advisor to current Secretary of State John Kerry’s 2004 presidential campaign and a college roommate of Mr Kerry’s stepson HJ Heinz, signed on in April.

Why shouldn’t Hunter Biden join the board of a gas company in Ukraine? (Guardian)

The son of the US vice-president has been chosen to take charge of energy firm Burisma’s legal unit – a decision based purely on merit, of course. …
Do say: “Somebody needs to get involved in Ukraine’s corporate governance, and it might as well be a clutch of rich, well-connected American dudes with weird first names.”
Don’t say: “Thanks, Dad.”

Henri Feron: Doom and Gloom or Economic Boom? The Myth of the “North Korean Collapse” (Asia Pacific Journal)

The DPRK is said to be an economist’s nightmare. There are almost no reliable statistics available, making any analysis speculative at best. The few useable figures that we have, though, fly in the face of the media’s curious insistence on a looming collapse. Food production and trade volumes indicate that the DPRK has largely recovered from the economic catastrophe of the 1990s. Indeed, Pyongyang’s reported rising budget figures appear more plausible than Seoul’s pessimistic politicized estimates. Obviously, sanctions, while damaging, have failed to nail the country down. There are signs that it is now beginning to open up and prepare to exploit its substantial mineral wealth. Could we soon be witnessing the rise of Asia’s next economic tiger?

Rossie Indira, Andre Vltchek: Indonesians Need Revolution! (CounterPunch)

Now, the situation is much worse than 10 years ago. It is because then, there was still some hope. The progressive Muslim leader Abdurrahman Wahid, (known as Gus Dur) was alive and so was Pramoedya Ananta Toer. Mr Wahid, a former President of Indonesia, was a closet Socialist. He was deposed by a judicial coup constructed by the Indonesian elites and military, but many Indonesians still believed that he would manage to make a comeback.

Johannes Stern: European election debate: Conservative, social democratic leaders praise austerity, sanctions vs. Russia (World Socialist Web Site)

Maureen Clare Murphy: Hunger-striking Palestinian prisoners punished by Israel (Electronic Intifada)

Nearly one hundred Palestinians held without charge or trial by Israel under indefinitely renewable administrative detention orders are about to enter their third week of an open-ended hunger strike to demand their freedom. …
Addameer reported today that Israel is punishing the hunger-striking prisoners by isolating them, handcuffing them for ten hours a day, and denying them salt, putting their lives at risk.

Ali Abunimah: Disturbing photos show militarization of Israeli children (Electronic Intifada)
The Israel-apartheid debate (972mag)

Syria | Mali | Nigeria | Uganda | Britain | Palestine | Israel-Iran

As‘ad Abukhalil: Opposition to the Syrian Opposition: Against the Syrian National Council (Jadaliyya)

The Syrian people have every right to protest, peacefully and violently, against the brutal regime. But let us be clear; the Syrian regime has no right to stay in power, and this was true even before it began using violence to quell the uprising. And let us be clear; the Syrian regime is incapable of reforming itself.
It is rather foolish to wait for a group to ascend to power before criticizing it. There was no mystery as to the intentions and agenda of the Muslim Brotherhood or the Salafis or even the Khomeini movement, before their taking the reigns of power. Similarly, the adversaries of the Ba’ath Party began opposing it long before the former began conspiring to seize power by force. Today, it is imperative that an opposition to the Syrian National Council (SNC) begins (and to the power behind it and underneath it) before they get a chance to rule Syria. This North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO)-supported movement does not really differ from the NATO-supported movement that served as a tool of NATO in Libya.

Vijay Prashad: Counterterrorism’s blindness: Mali and the US (Pambazuka)
Teju Cole: The White Savior Industrial Complex (Atlantic)
Max Fisher: The Soft Bigotry of Kony 2012 (Atlantic)

Tariq Ali: Born Again! George Galloway Stuns Labor, Shakes Up Britain (CounterPunch)

Akiva Eldar: Israel Defense Ministry plan earmarks 10 percent of West Bank for settlement expansion / מאות אלפי דונמים בשטחי הגדה המערבית מופו להרחבת התנחלויות (Haaretz)
Christoph Sydow: Israel will Siedlungsbau massiv ausweiten (Spiegel)
Ben White: Plan for Negev mass expulsions moves forward (Electronic Intifada)
Uri Avnery: The New Mandela (CounterPunch)
Mark Perry: Israel’s Secret Staging Ground (Foreign Policy)

U.S. officials believe that the Israelis have gained access to airbases in Azerbaijan. Does this bring them one step closer to a war with Iran?

Israel sucht Kampfbasis in Aserbaidschan (Spiegel)

Alexander Cockburn: You Really Think the Killers of Trayvon Martin and Those 16 Afghan Villagers Will Ever Do Time? (CounterPunch)

Oil Spills | Korea | Gaza | Strikes

Maxwell Abbott: The Oil Spill the World Forgot (Center for Media and Democracy)

Rasika Sanjeewa Weerawickrama: Sinking of the ROKS Cheonan Korean naval vessel in the Yellow Sea of Pacific Ocean (Asian Human Rights Commission)
Kim Jae-hwan: South Korea hunts for clues to warship disaster (AFP/Google)
Yoichi Shimatsu: Did an American Mine Sink South Korean Ship? (New America Media)

In the recent U.S.-China strategic talks in Shanghai and Beijing, the Chinese side dismissed the official scenario presented by the Americans and their South Korean allies as not credible. This conclusion was based on an independent technical assessment by the Chinese military, according to a Beijing-based military affairs consultant to the People Liberation Army.

Barak Ravid: Abbas to Obama: I’m against lifting the Gaza naval blockade (Ha’aretz)

Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas is opposed to lifting the naval blockade of the Gaza Strip because this would bolster Hamas, according to what he told United States President Barack Obama during their meeting at the White House Wednesday. Egypt also supports this position.

Barak Ravid: Government announces let-up to Gaza siege – but only in English (Ha’aretz)

Amira Hass: Gazans get halva, but not cookies / (Ha’aretz)

Since May, Israel has permitted bringing some 100 items (out of some 4,000 before the blockade ) into Gaza. The Gisha human rights advocacy group has released a report saying a large Israeli supermarket holds 10,000-15,000 items.
The expanded list is Israel’s first tangible step to temper the uproar caused by last week’s raid, but little more than snack foods and spices were added.
It still does not permit the most sought after items, such as cement, steel and other materials needed to rebuild the war-devastated territory.

Norman Paech: Angriff auf Völkerrecht. »Free Gaza« – oder was die freie Welt unter Freiheit versteht (junge Welt) (English translation by Google)

Anita Chan: Labor unrest and role of unions (China Daily)
Martin Hart-Landsberg: Labor Struggles In China (Reports from the Economic Front)
John Chan: As Chinese premier urges “respect” for workers, police prepare crackdown (WSWS)