Scotland | Ukraine | Palestine

George Monbiot: How the media shafted the people of Scotland (Guardian)

Perhaps the most arresting fact about the Scottish referendum is this: that there is no newspaper – local, regional or national, English or Scottish – that supports independence except the Sunday Herald. The Scots who will vote yes have been almost without representation in the media.
There is nothing unusual about this. Change in any direction, except further over the brink of market fundamentalism and planetary destruction, requires the defiance of almost the entire battery of salaried opinion. What distinguishes the independence campaign is that it has continued to prosper despite this assault.

Heiko Khoo: Scottish independence: an imperial implosion? (China.org.cn)

when the welfare state consensus collapsed at the end of the 1970s, and the Conservative Party under Margaret Thatcher declared war on the rights of the working class, public industries and public property were sold off and regional disparities came to mirror historical, cultural and national differences. A north-south economic and political divide became entrenched, the north voted Labour, the south, Conservative. This division was even stronger in Scotland. Under Tony Blair’s Labour government Scotland was granted considerable autonomy, which the Scottish Nationalist Party (SNP) used to good effect by maintaining free education and free medicine. This took place at a time when the rest of the U.K. saw these rights taken away and the Labour Party adopting political and economic policies to the right of the SNP. In this way, the national question became anchored in fundamental material differences in social politics. The present Conservative led coalition seeks to sweep away the public provision of social, welfare and health provision. Therefore, to many Scottish voters, it appears as if a vote for the independence of Scotland can build on, and advance, this more progressive political and social agenda.

Antonio Rondón García: La cara oculta del informe del desastre aéreo ucraniano (Granma)

El informe del Consejo de Seguridad holandés (OVV) sobre el desastre en Ucrania del Boeing-777-200 de Malysian Airlines, aparece limitado en sus conclusiones y con una cara oculta sobre las causas reales de ese hecho

Ali Abunimah: Palestinians in Gaza are still waiting for the siege to end (Electronic Intifada)

Israel’s assault – which it dubbed “Operation Protective Edge” – left at least 2,133 Palestinians dead and more than eleven thousand injured. More than 100,000 are permanently homeless as some 13 percent of Gaza’s housing stock – 44,300 housing units – was affected by the attack, with five percent rendered completely uninhabitable.

Is the PA stalling Gaza war crimes probe? (AlJazeera)
Fatou Bensouda: The truth about the ICC and Gaza (Guardian)

Under the laws of the Hague court, my office can only investigate alleged war crimes in Palestine if it grants us jurisdiction in its territory. It has not done so.

Asa Winstanley: Palestinian Authority foils new Gaza war crimes probe (Electronic Intifada)

The leaders of the Palestinian Authority last month blocked efforts to bring Israeli war crimes in Gaza before the International Criminal Court (ICC), Al Jazeera’s investigative unit has discovered.
The TV channel revealed yesterday the existence of a letter from the office of top ICC prosecutor Fatou Bensouda (…) in which she recounts a private 5 August meeting with Riad Malki, the PA foreign minister.
It is difficult to read her account of the meeting as anything other than Malki obstructing the process of investigating Israeli war crimes in Gaza…
Since its inception in the early 1990s, the Palestinian Authority has been little more than a subcontractor for the Israeli occupation…
In May, Abbas notoriously declared that this relationship with Israel is “sacred” and would continue indefinitely, regardless of any move to accommodate Hamas in any PA unity government.

Rania Khalek: Israeli officer admits ordering lethal strike on own soldier during Gaza massacre (Electronic Intifada)

The civilian population in Gaza is “a partner of terror” that “gets what they choose,” the top commander of the Israeli army’s Givati Brigade told the Israeli press recently, after orchestrating some of the deadliest episodes of butchery visited upon the Gaza Strip this summer.
Colonel Ofer Winter also admitted to ordering the mass-bombardment of an area where an Israeli soldier was known to be in order to prevent his capture alive by Palestinian resistance fighters — an army policy known as the Hannibal Directive.

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.

Ukraine | Scotland | Venezuela

David sent these links:
Ewen MacAskill: Ukraine crisis: bugged call reveals conspiracy theory about Kiev snipers (Guardian)
Umberto Bacchi: Ukraine Protests: Leaked EU Phone Call Suggests Kiev Snipers Were Hired by Opposition Coalition (International Business Times)

A phone conversation suggesting snipers who shot protesters in Kiev might have acted on the orders delivered by the opposition coalition – not former Ukrainian president Viktor Yanukovich – has been leaked online.
The phone conversation features Estonian foreign minister Urmas Paet telling EU foreign policy chief Catherine Ashton his suspicions regarding sniper attacks on protestors that took place in Kiev in February…
Paet is heard telling Ashton that there was evidence both protesters and security forces came under sniper fire during the deadly protests in the Ukrainian capital last month.

Susann Witt-Stahl: Jagd auf Linke (junge Welt)

Ukraine: Demonstrationen gegen neue Machthaber unmöglich. Kommunisten angegriffen und mißhandelt. Faschisten patrouillieren mit der Polizei

Ulla Jelpke: Tragödie statt Revolution (junge Welt)

More on Ukraine:
Harriet Salem, Ludmila Makarova: Are oligarch appointments at odds with new sense of fairness? (Guardian)

After losing control of Crimea, the embattled new Ukrainian government in Kiev has turned to the nation’s oligarchs in a bid to calm secessionist sentiment in the pro-Russian east. But the appointment of oligarchs to positions of political power has not been welcomed in all quarters, and certainly not by the protesters who hoped last month’s ousting of President Viktor Yanukovych heralded a new era.

Julie Hyland: What the Western-backed regime is planning for Ukrainian workers (World Socialist Web Site)

Behind incessant rhetorical invocations of a “democratic revolution,” Ukraine’s newly-installed government of former bankers, fascists and oligarchs is preparing draconian austerity measures.
The plans being drawn up are openly described as the “Greek model,” i.e., the programme of savage cuts imposed on Greece by the International Monetary Fund (IMF) and European Union (EU) that has caused Greece’s economy to collapse by nearly 25 percent in five years and produced a massive growth in unemployment and poverty.
In the case of Ukraine, however, this social devastation is to be unleashed against a country that has already been subjected to the scorched earth economics of capitalist restoration. Even before the latest events, Ukraine was the 80th poorest country in the world based on gross domestic product per capita, behind Iraq, Tonga and Bosnia-Herzegovina.

Conn Hallinan: The Dark Side of the Ukraine Revolt (CounterPunch)

[L]est one think that Svoboda, and parties even further to the right, will strike their tents and disappear, Ukrainian News reported Feb. 26 that Svoboda Party members have temporarily been appointed to the posts of Vice Prime Minister, Minister of Education, Minister of Agrarian Policy and Food Supplies, and Minister of Ecology and Natural Resources.

Marina Lewycka: Ukraine and the west: hot air and hypocrisy (Guardian)
US-Söldner: Blackwater angeblich in der Ost-Ukraine im Einsatz (Deutsche Wirtschafts Nachrichten [sic])
Damien Gayle: Has Blackwater been deployed to Ukraine? (Daily Mail)

Speculation was growing last night that American mercenaries had been deployed to Donetsk after videos emerged of unidentified armed men in the streets of the eastern Ukrainian city.
At least two videos published on YouTube earlier this week show burly, heavily armed soldiers with no insignia in the city, which has been gripped by pro-Moscow protests.
In one of the videos onlookers can be heard shouting ‘Blackwater! Blackwater!’ as the armed men, who wear no insignia, jog through the streets.

Josh Rogin: Russian ‘Blackwater’ Takes Over Ukraine Airport (Daily Beast)

The troops who have taken over two airports in Crimea are not Russian military, but they could be security contractors working for the Russian military, and they are there to stay.
Private security contractors working for the Russian military are the unmarked troops who have now seized control over two airports in the Ukrainian province of Crimea, according to informed sources in the region. And those contractors could be setting the stage for ousted President Viktor Yanukovich to come to the breakaway region.

Peter Schwarz: What is behind the warmongering of the German media? / Was steht hinter der Kriegshetze der deutschen Medien? (World Socialist Web Site)

Veteran left-winger Tariq Ali announces his support for Scottish independence (Daily Record)

The combination of the end of the British Empire and the utter degeneration of the Labour Party means Scotland has absolutely nothing to gain from staying within the Union.
My hope is that independence will create spaces of critical thought in England as well as in Scotland because people down here are very depressed and demoralised too.

Mark Weisbrot: Venezuela is not Ukraine (Guardian)

Venezuela’s struggle is widely misrepresented in western media. This is a classic conflict between right and left, rich and poor.
The current protests in Venezuela are reminiscent of another historical moment when street protests were used by right-wing politicians as part of an attempt to overthrow the elected government. From December of 2002 through February 2003, there was strike of mostly white-collar workers at the national oil industry, along with some business owners. The US media made it look like most of the country was on strike against the government, when, in fact, it was less than one percent of the labor force.

Mark Weisbrot: US support for regime change in Venezuela is a mistake (Guardian)

On Sunday, the Mercosur governments (Brazil, Argentina, Uruguay, Paraguay, and Venezuela) released a statement on the past week’s demonstrations in Venezuela. They described “the recent violent acts” in Venezuela as “attempts to destabilize the democratic order”. They made it abundantly clear where they stood.

Mia Lindeque: Marikana miners shot ‘execution style’ (Eye Witness News)

The Farlam Commission of Inquiry on Wednesday heard some striking Marikana miners were shot execution style.
President Jacob Zuma set up the hearing to determine whether police were justified in using lethal force on the day 34 miners were gunned down during a confrontation with police in the North West mining town.
The shooting at the Lonmin mine took place in August 2012.
The commission on Tuesday heard some of the striking workers were shot dead while they were surrendering with their hands raised in the air.

Patrick Martin: White House withholding documents from CIA torture probe (World Socialist Web Site)

White House officials admitted Thursday that the Obama administration is blocking the release of thousands of documents relating to the torture of prisoners at secret CIA prisons during the Bush administration. These documents apparently include the initial presidential authorization for torture and other illegal acts by US military/intelligence agencies.

Americas | Bahrain | Strauss-Kahn | Alba | Blackwater

Mark Weisbrot: Obama’s Latin America Policy: Continuity Without Change
(PDF link; Center for Economic and Policy Research)
Patrick Cockburn: Not Even a Bleat, Mrs. Clinton? Anti-Shia Pogroms Sweep Bahrain (Counterpunch)
Gideon Levy: Obama demolished Palestinian chances for statehood (Ha’aretz)
Yanis Varoufakis: On the Political Economics of Dominique Strauss-Kahn’s Political Death (MRzine)
Mike Whitney: Why They Hated Dominique. Bankers Cheer as IMF Head Faces Sexual Assault Charges (Counterpunch)
And rejecting conspiracy theories on Strauss-Kahn:
Alexander Cockburn: Was DSK Stitched Up? (Counterpunch)
Ken Ferguson: The Tartan Tsunami. Is Britain Heading for a Break-Up After the Latest Scottish Elections? (Counterpunch)
Mark Mazzetti, Emily B. Hager: Secret Desert Force Set Up by Blackwater’s Founder (New York Times)