Brazil | Panama Papers | Nuclear Weapons | Greece | Israel/Palestine

Alfredo Saad-Filho: A Coup in Brazil? (Jacobin)

Brazil’s right is determined to remove Dilma Rousseff from power and cripple any movements to her left.

Glenn Greenwald, Andrew Fishman, David Miranda: Brazil Is Engulfed by Ruling Class Corruption — and a Dangerous Subversion of Democracy | O Brasil está sendo engolido pela corrupção – e por uma perigosa subversão da democracia (Intercept)
Amy Goodman, Nermeen Shaikh: Glenn Greenwald: Is It A Coup? What Is Happening in Brazil is Much Worse Than Donald Trump (Democracy Now)

Brazil is facing its worst political crisis in over two decades as opponents of Brazilian President Dilma Rousseff attempt to impeach her on corruption charges. But Rousseff is refusing calls to resign, saying the impeachment proceedings against her amount to undemocratic attempts by the right-wing opposition to oust her from power. On Wednesday, former Brazilian President Luiz Inácio Lula da Silva called the impeachment proceedings against Rousseff an attempted “coup d’état.”

Amy Goodman, Juan González, Andrew Fishman, Mark Weisbrot: Is the U.S. Backing Rousseff’s Ouster in Brazil? Opposition Holds Talks in D.C. as Obama Stays Quiet (Democracy Now)
Glenn Greenwald, Andrew Fishman, David Miranda: After Vote to Remove Brazil’s President, Key Opposition Figure Holds Meetings in Washington | Porque o Sen. Aloysio Nunes foi a Washington um dia depois da votação do impeachment? (Intercept)

Margaret Kimberley: The Panama Papers Problem (CounterPunch)

The Panama tax haven leaks reveal a lot about the lawlessness of the rich, as well as the ideological bias of the western press. “Vladimir Putin’s name appears nowhere, but the corporate media used his image repeatedly to drum up interest in what is an otherwise newsworthy story.” Americans are conspicuous by their absence from the story. That’s because rich people in the U.S. can avoid taxes “legally in Wyoming, Delaware or Nevada.” …
The documents now known as the Panama Papers were leaked to the German newspaper Suddeutsche Zeitung (SZ) who then shared them with the International Consortium of Investigative Journalists (ICIJ). ICIJ is a non-profit but with its own problematic origins. It is funded in part by the Ford Foundation, Open Society Foundation, Kellogg Foundation and the Rockefeller Family Fund. ICIJ then worked with journalists around the world including from the Guardian and the McClatchy newspaper chain. They in turn will decide what will be kept secret and what will be shared with the public. The goal of revealing secrets instead turns into a plan to keep more secrets and to tarnish certain reputations based on bias and mysterious criteria.
The Panama Papers show that the heads of state of Ukraine, Iceland, Argentina, Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates all held shell holding company accounts in different tax haven locations. Vladimir Putin’s name appears nowhere but the corporate media used his image repeatedly to drum up interest in what is an otherwise newsworthy story…
While news outlets ranging from the Guardian to the New York Times do their best to connect Putin to the Mossack Fonseca scandal without evidence, the prime minister of the United Kingdom and the president of Ukraine are directly involved.

John Pilger: A world war has begun. Break the silence. (johnpilger.com)

In 2009, President Obama stood before an adoring crowd in the centre of Prague, in the heart of Europe. He pledged himself to make “the world free from nuclear weapons”. People cheered and some cried. A torrent of platitudes flowed from the media. Obama was subsequently awarded the Nobel Peace Prize.
It was all fake. He was lying.
The Obama administration has built more nuclear weapons, more nuclear warheads, more nuclear delivery systems, more nuclear factories. Nuclear warhead spending alone rose higher under Obama than under any American president. The cost over thirty years is more than $1 trillion.
A mini nuclear bomb is planned. It is known as the B61 Model 12. There has never been anything like it. General James Cartwright, a former Vice Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, has said, “Going smaller [makes using this nuclear] weapon more thinkable.”
In the last eighteen months, the greatest build-up of military forces since World War Two—led by the United States—is taking place along Russia’s western frontier. Not since Hitler invaded the Soviet Union have foreign troops presented such a demonstrable threat to Russia.
Ukraine—once part of the Soviet Union—has become a CIA theme park. Having orchestrated a coup in Kiev, Washington effectively controls a regime that is next door and hostile to Russia: a regime rotten with Nazis, literally. Prominent parliamentary figures in Ukraine are the political descendants of the notorious OUN and UPA fascists. They openly praise Hitler and call for the persecution and expulsion of the Russian speaking minority…
In Latvia, Lithuania and Estonia — next door to Russia – the US military is deploying combat troops, tanks, heavy weapons. This extreme provocation of the world’s second nuclear power is met with silence in the West.
What makes the prospect of nuclear war even more dangerous is a parallel campaign against China.

Alastair Crooke: The ‘Hybrid War’ of Economic Sanctions (Consortium News)

U.S. politicians love the “silver bullet” of economic sanctions to punish foreign adversaries, but the weapon’s overuse is driving China and Russia to develop countermeasures.

Costas Lapavitsas, Daniel Munevar: SYRIZA, The IMF And The EU: Gambling With The Future Of Greece (Social Europe)

The latest flare up regarding Greece has followed publication by Wikileaks of illegally taped discussions among IMF officials. To analyse the significance of this event it is vital to bear one point in mind: Greece cannot meet the terms of the bailout agreement struck on July 2015 by Prime Minister, Alexis Tsipras. The agreement is effectively dead and all parties involved are aware of that, even if they are not openly admitting it…
[The] Greek government … signed up to the bailout in direct contravention of everything that it had promised to do in 2015. As the reality of its deception and the harshness of the squeeze have begun to sink in, electoral support for Tsipras has vanished.
All competent polls show the opposition New Democracy – with a new leader – comfortably ahead. The outlook has become even worse for SYRIZA via the refugee wave, which has turned Greece into a kind of EU repository for refugees and migrants…

Joshua Sperber: BDS, Israel, and the World System (Journal of Palestine Studies)
This article comes with a list of recommended reading:

  • Jonathan Nitzan, Shimshon Bichler: The Global Political Economy of Israel. London/Sterling: Pluto, 2002. (cf. gen.lib.rus.ec/book/…)
  • Abu-Manneh Bashir: “Israel in the U.S. Empire,” Monthly Review 58, no. 10 (March 2007).
  • Noam Chomsky: The Fateful Triangle: The United States, Israel, and the Palestinians. Boston: South End Press, 1983.
  • Gershon Shafir: Land, Labor, and the Origins of the Israeli–Palestinian Conflict, 1882–1914. Cambridge / New York: Cambridge University Press, 1989.
  • Joel Kovel: Overcoming Zionism: Creating a Single Democratic State in Israel/Palestine. London: Pluto Press, 1987. (chapter 5)
  • Laurence J. Silberstein (ed.) Postzionism: A Reader. New Brunswick: Rutgers University Press, 2008.
  • Ilan Pappe: A History of Modern Palestine: One Land, Two Peoples. Cambridge / New York: Cambridge University Press, 2004.

Jonathan Cook: Execution of Palestinian Exposes Israel’s Military Culture (CounterPunch)

It might have been a moment that jolted Israelis to their senses. Instead the video of an Israeli soldier shooting dead a young Palestinian man as he lay wounded and barely able to move has only intensified the tribal war dance of the Israeli public.
Last week, as the soldier was brought before a military court for investigation, hundreds of supporters protested outside. He enjoys vocal support too from half a dozen cabinet ministers, former army generals, rabbis and – according to opinion polls – a significant majority of the Israeli Jewish public…
The past six months has seen a wave of desperate attacks by Palestinians – mostly improvised, using knives and cars – to end the occupation. Some 190 Palestinians have been killed in this period.
A number of the incidents have been captured on film. In a shocking proportion, Palestinians – including children – have been shot dead even when they posed no threat to Israeli soldiers or civilians. In military parlance, this is called “confirming the kill”.
The latest video is distinctive not only because the evidence is so indisputable but because it exposes Israel’s wider military culture.
When the soldier took his shot, his comrades registered not the least surprise that their prisoner had just been executed.

Richard Silverstein: Israeli Minster Calls for “Civil Targeted Killings” of BDS Leaders (Tikkun Olam)

The Yediot Achronot conference attacking BDS has become a veritable carnival of hate. Everyone from delusional Hollywood celebrities (Roseanne Barr) to cabinet ministers, to the leader of the Opposition have pledged fealty to the cause. Two of the speakers are under criminal investigation for corrupt political or financial dealings.
But the apogee came yesterday when Intelligence Minister Israel Katz called for the “civil targeted killing” of BDS leaders like Omar Barghouti. The phrase he used (sikul ezrahi memukad) derives from the euphemistic Hebrew phrase for the targeted killing of a terrorist (the literal meaning is “targeted thwarting”). But the added word ” civil” makes it something different.

Ahmad al-Bazz: Palestinians protest surge in home demolitions by Israeli army (+972)

The Israeli army has displaced more Palestinians since the start of this year than it did in all of 2015, the UN reports. Dozens protest the fourth such demolition in Khirbet Tana in recent months.

Amy Goodman, Nermeen Shaikh, Eric Fair: Ex-Abu Ghraib Interrogator: Israelis Trained U.S. to Use “Palestinian Chair” Torture Device (Democracy Now)
Black Friday. Carnage in Rafah (Amnesty International)

There is overwhelming evidence that Israeli forces committed disproportionate, or otherwise indiscriminate, attacks which killed scores of civilians in their homes, on the streets and in vehicles and injured many more. This includes repeatedly firing artillery and other imprecise explosive weapons in densely populated civilian areas during the attacks on Rafah between 1 and 4 August [2014]. In some cases, there are indications that they directly fired at and killed civilians, including people fleeing.

Brazil | Greece | Panama Papers

Glenn Greenwald, Andrew Fishman, David Miranda: Brazil Is Engulfed by Ruling Class Corruption — and a Dangerous Subversion of Democracy (Intercept)

Brazil’s extraordinary political upheaval shares some similarities with the Trump-led political chaos in the U.S.: a sui generis, out-of-control circus unleashing instability and some rather dark forces, with a positive ending almost impossible to imagine. The once-remote prospect of President Dilma Rousseff’s impeachment now seems likely.
But one significant difference with the U.S. is that Brazil’s turmoil is not confined to one politician. The opposite is true, as Romero notes: “almost every corner of the political system [is] under the cloud of scandal.” That includes not only Rousseff’s moderately left-wing Workers Party, or PT — which is rife with serious corruption — but also the vast majority of the centrist and right-wing political and economic factions working to destroy PT, which are drowning in at least an equal amount of criminality. In other words, PT is indeed deeply corrupt and awash in criminal scandal, but so is virtually every political faction working to undermine it and vying to seize that party’s democratically obtained power…
Put simply, this is a campaign to subvert Brazil’s democratic outcomes by monied factions that have long hated the results of democratic elections, deceitfully marching under an anti-corruption banner: quite similar to the 1964 coup. Indeed, much of the Brazilian right longs for restoration of the military dictatorship, and factions at these “anti-corruption” protests have been openly calling for the end of democracy.
None of this is a defense of PT. Both because of genuine widespread corruption in that party and national economic woes, Dilma and PT are intensely unpopular among all classes and groups, even including the party’s working-class base. But the street protests — as undeniably large and energized as they have been — are driven by those who are traditionally hostile to PT.

Julian Assange: Destroy Greece: ΙΜF and Europe disagree on the method! (Defend Democracy Press)

Today, 2nd April 2016, WikiLeaks publishes the records of a 19 March 2016 teleconference between the top two IMF officials in charge of managing the Greek debt crisis – Poul Thomsen, the head of the IMF’s European Department, and Delia Velkouleskou, the IMF Mission Chief for Greece. The IMF anticipates a possible Greek default co-inciding with the United Kingdom’s referendum on whether it should leave the European Union (‘Brexit’).
“This is going to be a disaster” remarks Velkouleskou in the meeting.
According to the internal discussion, the IMF is planning to tell Germany that it will abandon the Troika (composed of the IMF, European Commission and the European Central Bank) if the IMF and the Commission fail to reach an agreement on Greek debt relief…
In August the IMF announced it would not participate in last year’s €86 billion Greek bailout, which was covered by EU member states. IMF Chief Christine Lagarde stated at the time that the IMF’s future participation was contingent on Greece receiving “significant debt relief” from creditors. Lagarde announced that a team would be sent to Greece, headed by Velkouleskou.
Thomsen said internally that the threat of an imminent financial catstrophe is needed to force the other players into a “decision point”. For Germany, on debt relief, and In the case of Greece, to accept the IMF’s austerity “measures,” — including raising taxes and cutting Greek pensions and working conditions.

Juliette Garside, Holly Watt, David Pegg: The Panama Papers: how the world’s rich and famous hide their money offshore (Guardian)

The hidden wealth of some of the world’s most prominent leaders, politicians and celebrities has been revealed by an unprecedented leak of millions of documents that show the myriad ways in which the rich can exploit secretive offshore tax regimes…
Twelve national leaders are among 143 politicians, their families and close associates from around the world known to have been using offshore tax havens…
The families of at least eight current and former members of China’s supreme ruling body, the politburo, have been found to have hidden wealth offshore.

The Panama Papers. Politicians, Criminals and the Rogue Industry That Hides Their Cash (International Consortium of Investigative Journalists)
Panama Papers. Die Geheimnisse des schmutzigen Geldes (Süddeutsche Zeitung)
Corporate Media Gatekeepers Protect Western 1% From Panama Leak (Craig Murray)

Whoever leaked the Mossack Fonseca papers appears motivated by a genuine desire to expose the system that enables the ultra wealthy to hide their massive stashes, often corruptly obtained and all involved in tax avoidance. These Panamanian lawyers hide the wealth of a significant proportion of the 1%, and the massive leak of their documents ought to be a wonderful thing.
Unfortunately the leaker has made the dreadful mistake of turning to the western corporate media to publicise the results. In consequence the first major story, published today by the Guardian, is all about Vladimir Putin and a cellist on the fiddle. As it happens I believe the story and have no doubt Putin is bent.
But why focus on Russia? Russian wealth is only a tiny minority of the money hidden away with the aid of Mossack Fonseca. In fact, it soon becomes obvious that the selective reporting is going to stink.
The Suddeutsche Zeitung, which received the leak, gives a detailed explanation of the methodology the corporate media used to search the files. The main search they have done is for names associated with breaking UN sanctions regimes. The Guardian reports this too and helpfully lists those countries as Zimbabwe, North Korea, Russia and Syria. The filtering of this Mossack Fonseca information by the corporate media follows a direct western governmental agenda. There is no mention at all of use of Mossack Fonseca by massive western corporations or western billionaires – the main customers. And the Guardian is quick to reassure that “much of the leaked material will remain private.”
What do you expect? The leak is being managed by the grandly but laughably named “International Consortium of Investigative Journalists”, which is funded and organised entirely by the USA’s Center for Public Integrity. Their funders include

  • Ford Foundation
  • Carnegie Endowment
  • Rockefeller Family Fund
  • W K Kellogg Foundation
  • Open Society Foundation (Soros)

among many others. Do not expect a genuine expose of western capitalism. The dirty secrets of western corporations will remain unpublished.

Robert Mackey: Panama Papers Leak Sparks Protests in Iceland Over Prime Minister’s Secret Finances (Intercept)

Glenn Greenwald: Fighting Israeli Occupying Forces Is “Terrorism.” Boycotting Is “Anti-Semitism.” What’s Allowed? (Intercept)

Zimbabwe | Germany | Korea | USA

Roy Agyemang: Why a Robert Mugabe victory would be good for Zimbabwe (Guardian)

Kris sent this link:
Ingo Schmidt: German Politicians Take Aim at the Euro (The Bullet / Socialist Project) / Hauptwiderspruch Euro? (Sozialistische Zeitung)

Andre Vltchek: North Korea Celebrates 60th Anniversary of Victory (CounterPunch)
Melissa Hanham: North Korea’s Cuban Missile Crisis (38 North)

Yves Smith: Obama Starting to Lose It Over Snowden (naked capitalism)
Stephen Lendman: Temper Tantrum Politics (CounterPunch)
Pepe Escobar: Our man in Moscow (Asia Times)

Edward Snowden, under his new legal status in Russia, simply cannot be handed over to Bradley Manning’s lynch mob. Legally, Washington is now as powerless as a tribal Pashtun girl facing an incoming Hellfire missile.

Paul Craig Roberts: Provoking Russia (CounterPunch)
Melvyn A. Goodman: America’s Strange “Russian Problem” (CounterPunch)

Barry Grey: Obama’s press conference: The smiling face of a police state (WSWS)
Jerry Goldberg: Detroit bankruptcy: war on pensions! (Workers World)
Eric London, Barry Grey: Emergency Manager Kevyn Orr: Detroit workers were “dumb, lazy, happy and rich” / Konkursverwalter Kevyn Orr: Die Arbeiter von Detroit waren „dumm, faul, glücklich und reich“ (WSWS)

Roy Eidelson, Stephen Soldz: APA Fiddles While Psychology Burns. Hawai’ian Mind Games (CounterPunch)

As has been reported many times over the past decade, psychologists designed, implemented, supervised, researched, and provided ethical cover for abuses committed by the CIA and U.S. military. As a result, the APA has faced repeated calls to take action to prevent future abuses by members of the profession. …
The American Psychological Association had last held its annual meeting in Hawaii back in 2004. That’s the same year inspectors from the International Committee of the Red Cross visited the detention center at Guantanamo Bay and discovered a regime of psychological abuse “tantamount to torture.” That program was inspired by the recommendations of two psychologists who, just two months later, were advertising their CIA credentials as exhibitors at the APA convention in Honolulu. And that same weekend, nine years ago, an APA presidential citation was awarded to the former chief psychologist of that same Guantanamo facility, “for his exemplary balance of professional psychology and military leadership.”

Greece | Egypt | CIA torture | Trayvon Martin

Matina Stevis, Ian Talley: IMF Concedes It Made Mistakes on Greece (Wall Street Journal)

The International Monetary Fund has admitted to major missteps over the past three years in its handling of the bailout of Greece, the first spark in a debt crisis that spread across Europe.
In an internal document marked “strictly confidential,” the IMF said it badly underestimated the damage that its prescriptions of austerity would do to Greece’s economy, which has been mired in recession for the last six years.

Serge Halimi: Back to a feudal Europe / Wettlauf ins Mittelalter (Monde diplomatique)

The speculators have extricated themselves without losing one cent of the loans they made to Greece at astronomical interest rates. Obviously, such skill in robbing Europe’s taxpayers for the benefit of the hedge funds qualifies the troika to make the Greek people suffer. There are also hospitals, schools and universities that could be closed without any opposition. And not just in Greece: it’s only by making such sacrifices Europe that will be able keep its place in the triumphal progress towards a new Middle Ages.

Esam al-Amin: The Grand Scam: Spinning Egypt’s Military Coup (CounterPunch)

Even before a single demonstrator went to Tahrir, Okaz, a Saudi daily newspaper preemptively published the details of the scenario that unfolded three days later when the military took over. The following day, Al-Ahram, an official newspaper and Egypt’s largest circulated publication, had the headline “Either Resign or Be Overthrown.” This report foretold in frightening details how the events would unfold, including the military ultimatum, the overthrow of Morsi, the arrest of the MB leaders, and the suspension of the constitution. By July 3 nightfall, Gen. Sisi announced the overthrow of Morsi, the suspension of the constitution, and the beginning of a political roadmap. It was exactly the same roadmap President Morsi announced earlier, and the opposition rejected. The only difference was his ouster. … Secretary of Defense Chuck Hagel spoke to the coup leader Gen. Sisi at least five times during the crisis. … Within days, Deputy Secretary of State William Burns went to Egypt and met with the coup leaders and their civilian enablers. …
By the time the assembled speakers behind Gen. Sisi led by ElBaradei, the Grand Imam of Al-Azhar, and the Coptic Pope finished their blessings of the military coup, the security forces were in full force as hundreds of MB supporters including senior leaders were rounded up on the flimsy charge of instigating violence. … More than a dozen pro-Morsi media outlets including TV channels, websites, and newspapers were raided and closed. By July 8, the army killed over 80 pro-Morsi demonstrators and injured over 1000 when they were praying and protesting peacefully in front of the Presidential Guards Club, where Morsi is believed to be detained. So far, more than 270 people have been killed and thousands injured by the army and security forces across Egypt.

Amy Goodman, Sharif Abdel Kouddous: A Growing Divide in Egypt: As Army Outlines Transition Plan, Brotherhood Vow Revolt After Massacre (Democracy Now)

We turn now to Egypt, where members of the Muslim Brotherhood have called for an uprising one day after Egyptian armed forces shot dead more than 50 supporters of ousted President Mohamed Morsi during a protest outside Cairo’s Republican Guard barracks where the deposed leader is believed to be held. Over 400 people were injured in the clashes. The army claims it acted in self-defense.

Patrick Kingsley: Killing in Cairo: the full story of the Republican Guards’ club shootings (Guardian)
Amy Goodman, Sharif Abdel Kouddous: With Deadly Crackdown, Is Egypt’s Military Repeating Same Mistakes of Post-Mubarak Transition? (Democracy Now)
Sharif Abdel Kouddous: “The Jailers Should Be Jailed” (Democracy Now)
Egyptian Liberals Embrace the Military, Brooking No Dissent (New York Times)

A hypernationalist euphoria unleashed in Egypt by the toppling of Mr. Morsi has swept up even liberals and leftists who spent years struggling against the country’s previous military-backed governments.

Wilhelm Langthaler: Democratic coup? / Demokratischer Putsch? (Anti-Imperialist Camp)

Former CIA agent involved in rendition must be returned to Italy to face justice (Amnesty International)

Amnesty International is calling for the return of CIA agent, Robert Seldon Lady, to Italy to face justice for his part in the US-led rendition programme. “By his own admission, he participated in a kidnapping operation that resulted in a man being tortured. Seldon Lady evaded justice by leaving Italy before his trial. This time he should have to answer the charges against him in Italy in person,” said John Dalhuisen, Europe and Central Asia Programme Director at Amnesty International.

Barbie Latza Nadeau: CIA Agent Robert Seldon Lady: Italy’s Most Wanted (Daily Beast)

When CIA agent Robert Seldon Lady devised the plan to swoop Egyptian cleric Osama Moustafa Hassan Nasr, better known as Abu Omar, off a Milan street on a chilly February morning in 2003, he says he was just following orders from his American bosses. “Of course it was an illegal operation,” Lady told Italy’s Il Giornale newspaper at the time. “But that’s our job. We’re at war against terrorism.”

Greg Miller, Karen DeYoung: Panama releases former CIA operative wanted by Italy (Washington Post)
Ken Hanly: The US double standard — Snowden versus Lady and Carriles (Digital Journal)

Panamanian officials claim that Lady had been detained at a border crossing with Costa Rica pending an extradition request from Italy. He was let go on the grounds that Panama does not have an extradition treaty with Italy and the documentation sent by Italian officials was “insufficient”. It was insufficient, I expect, to counteract a request by the US for him to be sent back home. … Panama has experience with what happens when you displease the US.

Norman Pollack: Obama, Trayvon Martin and the Zimmerman Verdict (CounterPunch)

The verbatim transcript of Obama’s unscheduled appearance at the White House news briefing revealed all the human warmth of dead mackerel wrapped in yesterday’s paper. …
When Pres. Obama stated, “Trayvon Martin could have been me 35 years ago,” or conversely, he could have been Trayvon Martin, he unwittingly put global millions in an uncomfortable position. No one wishes Mr. Obama dead (the thought liberated from that statement), but global millions, myself included, would like to see him leave office, whether by resignation or impeachment, but IN DISGRACE, in disgrace for his political treachery: his personal authorization of targeted assassination, his ties to Wall Street and posture of deregulation, his compulsive obsession with secrecy, and now, the horrid policy of mass surveillance, his diplomatic aggressiveness, as in the Pacific-first geostrategic framework of containing and isolating or weakening China, his chumminess with the the military and intelligence communities, …