Lebanon

President Aoun calls Saudi detention of Hariri ‘aggression against Lebanon (Press TV)

Lebanese President Michel Aoun says Saudi Arabia is holding Prime Minister Saad Hariri, calling the detention as an act of aggression against his country and a violation of international human rights regulations.
“Nothing justifies Hariri’s lack of return for 12 days. We therefore consider him detained. This is a violation of the Vienna agreements and human rights law,” Aoun said at a meeting with Lebanese journalists and media executives…
Hariri announced his surprise resignation in Riyadh on November 4, shortly after traveling to Saudi Arabia. The televised announcement saw him reading out from a statement.
Lebanese government officials and senior sources close to Hariri believe that Riyadh forced him to step down and placed him under effective house arrest since he touched down in Saudi Arabia on November 3, a day before he announced his shock resignation…
Observers say even if he returned to Lebanon, Saudi Arabia could still hold his family “hostage.”
Hariri had taken to Twitter on Tuesday, saying he is “well” and will return to Lebanon “within days,” but that his family will stay in Saudi Arabia.

Ishaan Tharoor: Lebanon’s crisis sets the stage for a Middle East calamity (Washington Post)
Theodore Karasik, Giorgio Cafiero: Saudi–Iranian Rivalry in Lebanon (Carnegie Endowment for International Peace)

The resignation of Lebanese Prime Minister Saad Hariri on November 4—announced from Saudi Arabia, which built on his statements by accusing Lebanon of waging war against it and calling on its citizens to leave the Mediterranean country—has heightened justifiable concerns that the crisis could escalate into a new Middle Eastern war. Hariri’s resignation signals Riyadh’s increased efforts to counter Hezbollah and turn more Lebanese against the Iran-backed group, which entered into an uneasy coalition with Hariri and President Michel Aoun in October 2016 to end a two-year standoff that had left Lebanon’s presidential post vacant. As Iran has consolidated gains in Iraq and Syria—recently underscored by the joint Syrian Arab Army and Hezbollah victory over the Islamic State in Deir Ezzor—and Saudi Arabia is caught in a costly quagmire in Yemen, Riyadh has chosen to pursue a confrontation with Tehran by targeting Hezbollah in Lebanon.

Robert Malley: The Middle East Is Nearing an Explosion (Atlantic)

First, Saad Hariri, Lebanon’s prime minister, announced his resignation… Mohammed bin Salman, Saudi Arabia’s crown prince and de facto leader, had reason to want it to happen. Saudi-Iranian tensions are rising and bin Salman is determined to depict Tehran as the source of all regional evils. For Hariri to preside over a government that includes Hezbollah fundamentally undercut that core message: It meant allowing one of Riyadh’s closest allies to cooperate with Tehran’s most loyal partner. Hariri as prime minister created the impression that coexistence with Hezbollah and by extension with Iran was possible; his departure is designed to erase any doubt…
Act two was news that Saudi Arabia had intercepted a missile launched from Yemen and purportedly aimed at Riyadh’s airport. This was not the first missile that the Houthis, a Yemeni rebel group enjoying Iranian and Hezbollah support, had fired at its northern neighbor, but its timing and unprecedented range could make it one of the more consequential. The extent of outside backing to the Houthis is a matter of some debate, though neither U.S. nor Saudi officials harbor any doubt that the dramatic progress in the rebel movement’s ballistic missile program could not have occurred without its two benefactors’ considerable training and help. Like Hariri in his act of self-immolation, Saudi officials quickly and publicly drew a direct line connecting the strike to Iran and Hezbollah; it was, they proclaimed, an act of war for which they held both responsible and to which they would respond.
Act three was the massive Saudi purge in which over 10 princes and dozens of businessmen and senior officials were put under house arrest. This was bin Salman cleaning house, eliminating any potential competing military, political, economic, or media-related source of power…
All three developments point in a similar direction: that of an increasingly emboldened and single-minded Saudi leadership eager to work with the U.S. to counter an Iranian threat whose scale it believes was made all the starker by the day’s Yemen-related events.

Robert Fisk: Lebanese Prime Minister Saad Hariri accepts exile in France as Saudi Arabia no longer feels like a home away from home (Independent)

Marcus Barnett: Sabotaging Apartheid: An Interview with Ronnie Kasrils (Jacobin / Black Agenda Report)

Even among Communists, there was the view that the first objective should be political power, and once you achieve that you could change things. But we in the SACP completely underestimated the power of capital, especially the extent to which it could seduce national liberation movements. We got into what I call a Faustian pact with big business from Mandela onwards. We said, “If we get political power, we will give concessions on the economic side.” Those concessions were much too great.
And this was the beginning of the problem. Even with all the goodwill and intention of Mandela and Mbeki as leaders — people who are not as corrupt as Jacob Zuma — it created a stepping stone for the craven, profit-seeking rentiers and the comprador-bourgeoisie to come to the fore and establish systems of patronage. That has allowed the South African revolution to veer completely off course.

Ofer Aderet: Israeli Prime Minister After Six-Day War: ‘We’ll Deprive Gaza of Water, and the Arabs Will Leave’ (Haaretz via Google News and in Google cache)

“Empty” the Gaza Strip, “thin out” the Galilee, rewrite textbooks and censor political cartoons in Haaretz: These are among the proposals discussed by cabinet ministers after the Six-Day War that will be available to the public in a major release of declassified government documents by the Israel State Archives …
Eshkol expressed the hope that, “precisely because of the suffocation and imprisonment there, maybe the Arabs will move from the Gaza Strip,” adding there were ways to remove those who remained. “Perhaps if we don’t give them enough water they won’t have a choice, because the orchards will yellow and wither,” he said in this context. Another “solution,” he said, could be another war. “Perhaps we can expect another war and then this problem will be solved. But that’s a type of ‘luxury,’ an unexpected solution.”
“We are interested in emptying out Gaza first,” Eshkol summed up. To which Labor Minister Yigal Allon suggested “thinning the Galilee of Arabs,” while Religious Affairs Minister Zerah Warhaftig said, “We must increase [the number of] Jews and take all possible measures to reduce the number of Arabs.” …

Thailand | South Africa | Venezuela | Israel | USA

Giles Ji Ungpakorn [ใจ อึ๊งภากรณ์ tɕāj ʔɯ́ŋ.pʰāː.kɔ̄ːn]: Junta’s referendum on authoritarian constitution neither free nor fair (Ugly Truth Tailand)

The Thai junta’s so-called “referendum” on its authoritarian constitution is not a genuine democratic referendum. It is being conducted in a climate of fear, bullying and harassment. Those wishing to oppose the constitution and campaign for a “No Vote” have been constantly arrested and thrown in jail and their literature confiscated. Even neutral meetings to discuss the constitution have been banned. Independent media have been raided by soldiers. The military controlled media is giving a one-sided, pro-junta view of this appalling constitution and soldiers are being sent into communities to “explain” the “benefits” of the constitution to the public…
This retched draft constitution should be rejected because it is drawn up by people who have contempt for democracy and contempt for most citizens. This is reflected in the ridiculous “prologue” which also justifies and white-washes all the actions of the military junta. There are a number of measures which increase the powers of military appointed bodies over elected governments and parliament. It allows for a non-member of parliament to become Prime Minister in certain circumstances and there is a special additional question in the referendum which asks if people would like the parliament and senate to vote together to appoint someone from the junta to be the Prime Minister after the first elections. Of course the senate is to be fully appointed by the junta. In addition, the formula for determining the number of members of parliament favours the Democratic Party.
The constitution is the most neo-liberal constitution ever drafted in Thailand. At a stroke it turns the clock back and virtually abolishes the universal health care scheme and the right to free secondary education. It also entrenches Theravada Buddhism at the expense of other beliefs.

Reuters: Thailand referendum gets under way as military seeks to cement power (Guardian)

Yes vote on new constitution backed by junta would hand control of senate to commanders, granting them a veto on decisions by elected lawmakers

Emma Graham-Harrison: Voters deliver stinging rebuke to ANC in South African election (Guardian)

South Africans have delivered a stinging rebuke to the ANC, handing the party its first major election setback since it swept to power after the end of apartheid over two decades ago.
Frustrated with a stagnant economy, a 25% unemployment rate and corruption allegations against Jacob Zuma, the president, voters in local elections turned away from the ruling party in their millions and it has been defeated in two of the three cities where it faced the strongest challenge.
The ANC is likely to claim a slim overall majority when final results are announced, but it has lost control of Port Elizabeth, an industrial city on the south coast, and Pretoria, the capital.

Eva María: Why “Twenty-First-Century Socialism” Failed (Jacobin)

The Bolivarian Revolution improved millions of lives, but it was never able to fundamentally challenge the logic of capital.

Chip Gibbons: The Repression Lists (Jacobin)

For decades, the state has used lists like the no-fly list to expand its power and harass political dissidents.

Andy Wilcoxson: The Exoneration of Milosevic: the ICTY’s Surprise Ruling (CounterPunch)

The International Criminal Tribunal for the Former Yugoslavia (ICTY) in The Hague has determined that the late Serbian president Slobodan Milošević was not responsible for war crimes committed during the 1992-95 Bosnian war.
In a stunning ruling, the trial chamber that convicted former Bosnian-Serb president Radovan Karadžić of war crimes and sentenced him to 40 years in prison, unanimously concluded that Slobodan Milošević was not part of a “joint criminal enterprise” to victimize Muslims and Croats during the Bosnian war…
The Karadžić trial chamber found that “the relationship between Milošević and the Accused had deteriorated beginning in 1992; by 1994, they no longer agreed on a course of action to be taken. Furthermore, beginning as early as March 1992, there was apparent discord between the Accused and Milošević in meetings with international representatives, during which Milošević and other Serbian leaders openly criticised Bosnian Serb leaders of committing ‘crimes against humanity’ and ‘ethnic cleansing’ and the war for their own purposes.”

Eugen Hardt: Rojava: „Taktisches Bündnis“ mit US-Imperialismus führt zur Niederlage (Linke Zeitung)

Korea | Austria

Stephen Haggard: Tensions Update III: Talks (Peterson Institute for International Economics)
Stephen Haggard: Winners and losers – what the North Korean deal really means (Guardian)

Another whirl in the now familiar dance between the two Koreas has ended with Pyongyang expressing regrets over the wounding of South Korean soldiers, Seoul agreeing to halt anti-North propaganda broadcasts, and heavy sighs of relief around the world as war talk dies down.

71 refugees were found dead, suffocated in an abandoned refrigerated lorry in Austria.

Luke Harding: Police fear as many as 50 migrants dead inside lorry left by Austrian motorway (Guardian)

The badly decomposed remains were discovered on Thursday morning on Austria’s A4 motorway between Neusiedl and Parndorf. The truck had been abandoned on the hard shoulder of the road near Parndorf. It had apparently been there since Wednesday. The refugees, who appeared to have suffocated, died before they entered Austria, police said.

A Refugee Tragedy in Austria (New York Times)

The grim geography is this: As the route to Italy via Libya and the Mediterranean has become more difficult and costly, refugees have increasingly headed to Greece, trying then to reach Western Europe via the Balkans. So far this year, 181,000 have gained a first European foothold in Greece after crossing a narrow stretch of sea from Turkey. From there, they make their way across Macedonia and Serbia, rushing to cross the Hungarian border before it becomes impassable, and hope to proceed from there to Germany and other points in Western Europe…
Greece and Italy are overwhelmed. Serbia and Macedonia, which aspire to European Union membership, are struggling to cope.

In the Traiskirchen refugee camp near Vienna, the government has conciously created a humanitarian desaster as a pretext for further measures against refugees. At the camp, people are sleeping in buses and outside, they don’t get enough food, and sanitary conditions are appalling.

Austria refugee camp branded ‘shameful’ by Amnesty International (BBC)

The head of the Austrian branch of Amnesty International, Heinz Pazelt, told the BBC the conditions in Traiskirchen were “shameful”, particularly in a rich country like Austria.
He said hundreds of unaccompanied minors were being severely neglected.
“They are just left alone and have to survive there. They are the last ones who get to eat, and this is a really heavy human rights violation of the convention for children,” he said.
The Amnesty report (in German) says many of the problems could be easily dealt with if there was better cooperation between the federal government and the provincial authorities in Austria.

Hazel Southam: 80,000 will seek asylum in Austria in 2015 – and for many, this former barracks in Traiskirchen is the end of the road (Independent)

The centre is an old Army barracks that was intended to house around 1,000 people…Today 4,800 people are housed in this imposing cream-painted building in conditions that Amnesty International declared “inhumane” and “shameful” last week.
The camp at Traiskirchen is run by ORS, a Swiss firm, reputed to have earned some €21m (£15m) from the camp in the last four years.

Greece | South Africa | Australia | Israel/Palestine

Karen Attiah: How Western media would cover Baltimore if it happened elsewhere (Washington Post)

International leaders expressed concern over the rising tide of racism and state violence in America, especially concerning the treatment of ethnic minorities in the country and the corruption in state security forces around the country when handling cases of police brutality. The latest crisis is taking place in Baltimore, Maryland, a once-bustling city on the country’s Eastern Seaboard, where an unarmed man named Freddie Gray died from a severed spine while in police custody.
Black Americans, a minority ethnic group, are killed by state security forces at a rate higher than the white majority population. Young, black American males are 21 times more likely to be shot by police than white American males.

Νίκη Ζορμπά: Π. Λαφαζάνης: Να πάμε σε σύγκρουση με τη γερμανική Ευρώπη (Capital.gr)

Σε μια συνέντευξη-φωτιά, ο υπουργός Παραγωγικής Ανασυγκρότησης, Περιβάλλοντος και Ενέργειας, Παναγιώτης Λαφαζάνης, καλεί την κυβέρνηση να ακολουθήσει τον δρόμο της ρήξης με τους εταίρους, μιλά για «αδίστακτους ιμπεριαλιστές», που φέρονται στη χώρα σαν να είναι μακρινή αποικία τους, ενώ αναφέρεται εμφατικά στην ανάγκη να απαγκιστρωθεί η Ελλάδα από την «κατεστημένη Ευρώπη», ακολουθώντας εναλλακτικούς δρόμους.

A. Makris: Greek Productive Reconstruction Min: SYRIZA Government Must Be One of Progressive Reversals (Greek Reporter)
Peter Spiegel, Kerin Hope: Frustrated officials want Greek premier to ditch Syriza far left (Financial Times)

Many officials — up to and including some eurozone finance ministers — have suggested privately that only a decision by Alexis Tsipras, Greek prime minister, to jettison the far left of his governing Syriza party can make a bailout agreement possible.

Aditya Chakrabortty: Europe carpets the Greeks but rolls out the red carpet for Narendra Modi. How’s that right? (Guardian)
Elisa Simantke, Nikolas Leontopoulos: Costas Lapavitsas: “The Syriza strategy has come to an end (ThePressProject) / „Beste Strategie ist geordneter Austritt aus dem Euro“ (Tagesspiegel)

Syriza MP and economist Costas Lapavitsas says that the time has come for Greece and its partners to understand that “they are flogging a dead horse”.

Garikai Chengu: Xenophobia in South Africa (CounterPunch)

Far from being a Rainbow Nation, ongoing xenophobic violence in South Africa’s townships exposes the nation’s further entrenchment into two separate and unequal societies: one, predominantly Black and poor, located in the townships; the other, largely White and affluent, located in the suburbs…
When Nelson Mandela was released from 27 years in prison in 1990, the Black townships exploded in endless celebration. Today, after twenty one years of the ANC government, which has been more concerned with appeasing White monopoly capital than redistributing land and resources to poor Blacks, townships have exploded into violence…
Filtered through the racist lens of the predominantly White-owned South African media, xenophobia is portrayed as merely further examples of “Black-on-Black” violence by an inherently unruly and violent underbelly of society. The four major media houses are still largely White and male-owned; collectively, they control over 80 percent of what South Africans watch and read. The White media focuses on the symptom rather than the disease by steering the national discourse away from broader issues of income inequality and economic democratisation, towards narrow issues of vandalism, looting and general criminality…
Despite twenty years of South African democracy, five White-owned companies still control 75 percent of South Africa’s stock market. It’s the largest concentration of wealth and power on earth…
Neo-Apartheid companies in South Africa made record profits for Western shareholders since democracy in 1994; all the while, they shed hundreds of thousands of jobs. At independence, unemployment stood at 15 percent; today, that figure has skyrocketed to 25 percent. Instead of employing South Africans, major White-owned companies have sought to increase shareholder profits by outsourcing jobs abroad and hiring exploitable, African foreigners at home.

Israel denies Nzimande visa without explanation (The New Age)
Shannon Ebrahim: Israel denies Nzimande a visa (Independent)

The South African Government is outraged that Israel has denied a visa to South African Minister of Higher Education Blade Nzimande to visit Palestine with an official delegation…
Nzimande was invited to Palestine by his Palestinian counterpart from 25-29 April 2015 in order to discuss the implementation of an agreement on academic collaboration that they signed when Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas visited South Africa in November 2014…
Nzimande and his delegation of three officials had followed normal procedures to apply for a visa through the Embassy of Israel, but the application was returned with no explanation. The Israeli Embassy has now confirmed that they declined to issue the visa, and are adamant they will not be issuing the visas.

Govan Whittles: Nzimande visa denial to Israel viewed as attack on South African Government (Eyewitness News)

The Department of Higher Education says Minister Blade Nzimande was denied a visa to Israel because of his public utterances against the illegal occupation of Palestine by Israel.
But, the department says it views this as an attack on the South African government…
Nzimande’s spokesperson Khaye Nkwanyana said, “This is a government position that is why even the President of Palestine was here, which means that a government minister will never be able to travel to Israel or Palestine because Israel has taken this particular position against South Africa.”
Nkwanyana said the decision has effectively barred all South African officials from visiting both countries.

Liberman lashes out at South Africa after Israel denies visa to Communist minister (Jerusalem Post)
Blade urges students to cut ties with Israeli institutions (Sunday World)

[The South African education ministry said:] “This is the first time a South African cabinet minister has been declined a visa.”
The University of Johannesburg is‚ the ministry said‚ “the first university in SA to terminate academic relations with an Israeli institution”.

JTA: South Africa Minister Barred by Israel From Visiting West Bank (Forward)

Reacting to the denial of the visa, Nzimande told Independent Media on Thursday: “The Israeli government is trying by all means to hide their atrocities against the Palestinian people and minimize the number of people who can actually see what is happening on the ground.”

Muhammed Ismail Bulbulia: Nzimande Latest South African to Be Denied Israeli Visa Over Pro-Palestinian Stance (allAfrica)

Minister of public works Thulas Nxesi, then part of the 13 member Non-Aligned Movement Committee on Palestine, was prevented from entering Palestine in 2012…
Archbishop emeritus Desmond Tutu was denied access to Gaza in 2006 when he led a UN Human Rights Council delegation to investigate the killing of 19 members of a Palestinian family in Beit Hanoun…
Other prominent South Africans that have been denied access into Palestine include educationist Salim Vally, academic Naeem Jeenah and boycott activist Marthie Momberg.

John Pilger: The Secret Country Again Wages War on Its Own People (CounterPunch)

Australia has again declared war on its Indigenous people, reminiscent of the brutality that brought universal condemnation on apartheid South Africa. Aboriginal people are to be driven from homelands where their communities have lived for thousands of years. In Western Australia, where mining companies make billion dollar profits exploiting Aboriginal land, the state government says it can no longer afford to “support” the homelands.
Vulnerable populations, already denied the basic services most Australians take for granted, are on notice of dispossession without consultation, and eviction at gunpoint. Yet again, Aboriginal leaders have warned of “a new generation of displaced people” and “cultural genocide”…
The current political attack was launched in the richest state, Western Australia. Last October, the state premier, Colin Barnett, announced that his government could not afford the $90 million budget for basic municipal services to 282 homelands: water, power, sanitation, schools, road maintenance, rubbish collection. It was the equivalent of informing the white suburbs of Perth that their lawn sprinklers would no longer sprinkle and their toilets no longer flush; and they had to move; and if they refused, the police would evict them…
Western Australia jails Aboriginal males at more than eight times the rate of apartheid South Africa. It has one of the highest incarceration rates of juveniles in the world, almost all of them indigenous, including children kept in solitary confinement in adult prisons, with their mothers keeping vigil outside.

Glenn Greenwald: Cowardly firing of Australian state-funded TV journalist highlights the west’s real religion (Intercept)

The excuses offered by SBS for McIntyre’s firing are so insulting as to be laughable. Minister Turnball denies that he made the decision even as he admits that, beyond his public denunciation, he “drew [McIntyre’s comments] to the attention of SBS’s managing director Michael Ebeid.” The Minister also issued a statement endorsing McIntyre’s firing, saying that “in his capacity as a reporter employed by SBS he has to comply with and face the consequences of ignoring the SBS social media protocol.” For its part, SBS laughably claims McIntyre wasn’t fired for his views, but, rather, because his “actions have breached the SBS Code of Conduct and social media policy” — as though he would have been fired if he had expressed reverence for, rather than criticism of, Anzac.
Notably, McIntyre’s firing had nothing to do with any claimed factual inaccuracies of anything he said. As The Washington Post’s Adam Taylor noted, historians and even a former prime minister have long questioned the appropriateness of this holiday given the realities of Anzac’s conduct and the war itself. As Australian history professor Philip Dwyer documented, McIntyre’s factual assertions are simply true. Whatever else one might say, the issues raised by McIntyre are the subject of entirely legitimate political debate, and they should be. Making it a firing offense for a journalist to weigh in on one side of that debate but not the other is tyrannical.

Rebecca Sullivan: SBS reporter Scott McIntyre fired over Anzac tweets (Gold Coast Bulletin)

On Saturday evening, soccer reporter Scott McIntyre tweeted five times about Australia’s involvement in numerous wars.
The cultification of an imperialist invasion of a foreign nation that Australia had no quarrel with is against all ideals of modern society.
— Scott McIntyre (@mcintinhos) April 25, 2015
Wonder if the poorly-read, largely white, nationalist drinkers and gamblers pause today to consider the horror that all mankind suffered.
— Scott McIntyre (@mcintinhos) April 25, 2015
Remembering the summary execution, widespread rape and theft committed by these ‘brave’ Anzacs in Egypt, Palestine and Japan.
— Scott McIntyre (@mcintinhos) April 25, 2015
Not forgetting that the largest single-day terrorist attacks in history were committed by this nation & their allies in Hiroshima & Nagasaki
— Scott McIntyre (@mcintinhos) April 25, 2015
Innocent children, on the way to school, murdered. Their shadows seared into the concrete of Hiroshima. pic.twitter.com/DQOGXiKxEb
— Scott McIntyre (@mcintinhos) April 25, 2015
Mr McIntyre has more than 30,000 Twitter followers.
SBS Managing Director Michael Ebeid and Director of Sport Ken Shipp said Mr McIntyre had breached the station’s Code of Conduct and social media policy.
“Respect for Australian audiences is paramount at SBS,” Mr Ebeid and Mr Shipp said in a statement.

Heiko Khoo: Günter Grass dies at age 87 (China.org.cn)
Andre Vltchek: Galeano Died (CounterPunch)

This is How We Fought in Gaza. Soldiers’ testimonies and photographs from Operation “Protective Edge” (2014) (PDF; Breaking the Silence)

While the testimonies include pointed descriptions of inappropriate behavior by soldiers in the field, the more disturbing picture that arises from these testimonies reflects systematic policies that were dictated to IDF forces of all ranks and in all zones. The guiding military principle of “minimum risk to our forces, even at the cost of harming innocent civilians,” alongside efforts to deter and intimidate the Palestinians, led to massive and unprecedented harm to the population and the civilian infrastructure in the Gaza Strip. Policymakers could have predicted these results prior to the operation and were surely aware of them throughout.

Ripe for Abuse. Palestinian Child Labor in Israeli Agricultural Settlements in the West Bank (PDF; Human Rights Watch)

Hundreds of Palestinian children work on Israeli settlement farms in the occupied West Bank, the majority located in the Jordan Valley. This report documents rights abuses against Palestinian children as young as 11 years old, who earn around US $19 for a full day working in the settlement agricultural industry. Many drop out of school and work in conditions that can be hazardous due to pesticides, dangerous equipment, and extreme heat.

Conal Urquhart: Chinese workers in Israel sign no-sex contract (Guardian)

Chinese workers at a company in Israel have been forced to agree not to have sex with or marry Israelis as a condition of getting a job…
About 260,000 foreigners work in Israel, having replaced Palestinian labourers during three years of fighting. When the government first allowed the entrance of the foreign workers in the late 1990s, ministers warned of a “social timebomb” caused by their assimilation with Israelis.
More than half the workers are in the country illegally…
Advocates of foreign workers, who also come from Thailand, the Philippines and Romania, say they are subject to almost slave conditions, and their employers often take away their passports and refuse to pay them.

Alexander Cockburn, Jeffrey St. Clair: The Making of Hillary Clinton
pt. 1: From Nixon Girl to Watergate
pt. 2: The Seeds of Corruption
pt. 3: Secrecy, Intransigence and War (CounterPunch)

Michel Collon, Saïd Bouamama: The Furor Over “Fuck France” (CounterPunch)

In France there has always been a fight between two conceptions of the nation: a fight between those who considered France in a colonial, imperial and racist way, and another France, which belongs to its people. A France in struggle, always trying to build herself in equality. And then, in this book, we are stating in clear terms that between the France of Versailles, who once put down the Commune of Paris, and the France of the Communards, who tried to set up an equalitarian society, our choice was made. That we were on the Resistance’s side and against the collaborationists, and that we would always have to choose between two Frances: the reactionary France and the progressive France…
After the attacks [on Charlie Hebdo] took place, after the massive emotion that seized French society, everyone was wondering what was hidden behind those attacks…
Yet plenty of people who were against the attacks could not recognize themselves in Charlie. Even if it doesn’t mean that the attacks were justified, Charlie Hebdo is a newspaper which was on one side Islamophobic (…), but it was also sexist (the way in which women are represented inside the paper is a scandal with regard to gender equality), and eventually the newspaper openly despized the working-class: in Charlie Hebdo, the “bof” is a workman shown as alcoholic, stupid, only watching tv… And then, in terms of classes, and in terms of racial and sexual oppression, this newspaper was a reactionary one. It may be added that it supported every single war, like NATO’s wars, whether they were in Eastern Europe, in Iraq or in Afghanistan: Charlie Hebdo always took a stand for them. In brief, the newspaper was putting forward, through humor, the clash of civilizations advocated by the United States of America, and presented Arab and Muslim countries as the main danger…
This is the context in which this so-called national unity took place. Moreover, it didn’t take long (…) to provoke reactions and open the floodgates to the development of Islamophobic actions. We registered more than 200 of them within fifteen days: we saw mosques being attacked, grenades thrown in prayer centers, veiled women whose veil was snatched from them on the street… Indeed we experience more Islamophobic acts in two weeks than during the whole year in 2014…
A first consequence was to impose a minute of silence in every school, around the slogan “Je suis Charlie”. Of course, a whole wide range of pupils (not to say too many of them) could not say “Je suis Charlie”, and then they expressed their opinion. They were told that it was a debate and that they could speak up, so they gave their opinion, but when they did then they were summoned to report to the police, some of them are now facing legal proceedings… France considered that not being Charlie implied an apology for terrorism. Eight-year old children were summoned to the police station to be audited for terrorism apology.

Ukraine | Egypt | Israel/Palestine | Turkey | Korea | South Africa | Venezuela

Andrew Manchuk: On the situation in Ukraine (Borotba)

After some violent and bloody clashes in the centre of Kiev the power in our country was seized by the coalition of ultra-right and neoliberal political forces. The newly established regime immediately started the close cooperation with the richest oligarchs – with those who (along with the representatives of the EU and US) provided the financial aid and international support to Euromaidan. Some of these oligarchs were recently appointed as governors in the key industrial regions (that are the least loyal to new rightwing government) – with the expectation that they would suppress the anger of indignant protesters there.

Gerfried Sperl: OSZE in der Ostukraine: Aufklärungsbedarf (Standard)

Patrick Kingsley: Egyptian judge sentences 720 men to death (Guardian)

A judge in Egypt has sentenced to death 720 men, including the head of the Muslim Brotherhood, in a pair of mass-trials that were both completed after just two brief court sessions.

Eric Walberg: The Economics of Egypt’s Coup (CounterPunch)

As Egypt inches towards the first anniversary of the July 3 coup, the economy continues to flounder. The military-backed reverting to Mubarak-era policies has been buttressed only by lavish handouts from the Gulf Security Council (GCC) states and vague promises of future investment by western business, namely Coca Cola.

Desmond Tutu: Israel guilty of apartheid in treatment of Palestinians (Jerusalem Post)
Apartheid in planning rights / אפרטהייד תכנוני (Haaretz)

Israel’s discriminatory planning policy in the West Bank violates its most basic obligations.

Ali Abunimah: Tutu condemns US efforts to curb free speech on Palestine (Electronic Intifada)
Josh Rogin: Kerry Warns Israel Could Become ‘An Apartheid State’ (Daily Beast)

Ömer Taşpinar: The Islamic roots of the conflict in Turkey (Today Zaman)

The conflict between the Gülen movement and the Justice and Development Party (AKP) has now taken on a very public dimension. For many in Turkey and in the West, this conflict is nothing but a power struggle. Yet, focusing solely on politics and the quest for power would be reductionist. The current conflict has deep historical, ideological and even doctrinal roots.

Christine Hong: War by Other Means: The Violence of North Korean Human Rights (Japan Focus)

This essay offers a historicized overview of the consolidation of contemporary human rights as the dominant lingua franca for social justice projects today and applies it to the debate over human rights in North Korea. Highlighting what the rights framework renders legible as well as what it consigns to unintelligibility, it examines the antinomies of contemporary human rights as an ethico-political discourse that strives to reassert the dominance of the global North over the global South. Relentlessly presentist in its assignment of blame and politically harnessed to a regime-change agenda, the human rights framing of North Korea has enabled human rights advocates, typically “beneficiaries of past injustice,” to assume a moralizing, implicitly violent posture toward a “regime” commonsensically understood to be “evil.” Cordoning off North Korea’s alleged crimes for discrete consideration while turning a willfully blind eye to the violence of sanctions, “humanitarian” intervention, and the withholding of humanitarian and developmental aid, the North Korean human rights project has allowed a spectrum of political actors—U.S. soft-power institutions, thinly renovated Cold War defense organizations, hawks of both neoconservative and liberal varieties, conservative evangelicals, anticommunist Koreans in South Korea and the diaspora, and North Korean defectors—to join together in common cause.

John Pilger: South Africa Today: Apartheid by Another Name (CounterPunch)

In 1985, apartheid had suffered two disasters: the Johannesburg stock market crashed and the regime defaulted on its mounting foreign debt. In September that year, a group led by Gavin Relly, chairman of the Anglo-American Corporation, met Oliver Tambo, the ANC president, and other liberation officials in Mfuwe, Zambia.
The Relly message was that a “transition” from apartheid to a black-governed electoral democracy was possible only if “order” and “stability” were guaranteed. These was liberal code for a capitalist state in which social and economic democracy would never be a priority. The aim was to split the ANC between the “moderates” they could “do business with” (Tambo, Mandela and Thabo Mbeki) and the majority who made up the United Democratic Front and were fighting in the streets.
The betrayal of the UDF and its most effective components, such as the National Civic Organisation, is today poignant, secret history…
The transition was, in a sense, seamless. “You can put any label on it you like,” President Mandela told me at Groote Schur. “You can call it Thatcherite, but for this country, privatisation is the fundamental policy.”
“That’s the opposite of what you said before the first elections, in 1994,” I said.
“There is a process,” was his uncertain reply, “and every process incorporates change.”

Eva Golinger: The Dirty Hand of the National Endowment for Democracy in Venezuela (CounterPunch)

Carol Rosenberg: 9/11 competency hearing puts focus on Guantánamo’s secret prison (Miami Herald)
Carol Rosenberg: 9/11 trial lawyer: CIA had its finger on Guantánamo’s mute button (Miami Herald)

Mystery solved, if there was any doubt: It was the CIA that hit the mute button in the war court earlier this year when a defense lawyer for the accused 9/11 mastermind began talking about the CIA’s secret overseas prisons, the lawyer said Monday…
Pentagon officials at the time refused to confirm that the CIA controlled the audio from the court to the spectator’s gallery and several closed-circuit TV sites.

David Swanson: Torture is Mainstream Now (CounterPunch)

In May 2009, former vice president Dick Cheney forced into the news the fact that, even though Obama had “banned torture” by executive order (torture being a felony and a treaty violation before and after the “banning”) Obama maintained the power to use torture as needed. Cheney saidthat Obama’s continued claim of the power to torture vindicated his own (Cheney’s) authorization of torture. David Axelrod, White House Senior Advisor, refused repeatedly, to dispute Cheney’s assertion — also supported by Leon Panetta’s confirmation hearing for CIA director, at which he said the president had the power to torture and noted that rendition would continue. In fact, it did. The New York Times quickly reportedthat the U.S. was now outsourcing more torture to other countries. The Obama administration announced a new policy on renditions that kept them in place, and a new policy on lawless permanent imprisonment that kept it in place but formalized it, mainstreamed it. Before long Obama-era rendition victims were alleging torture…
And secret CIA torture prisons have continued to pop into the news even though the CIA was falsely said to have abandoned that practice. While the Obama administration has claimed unprecedented powers to block civil suits against torturers, it has also used, in court, testimony produced by torture, something that used to be illegal (and still is if you go by written laws).

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.

Syria | Honduras | Nelson Mandela

Ghaith Abdul-Ahad: ‘Syria is not a revolution any more – this is civil war’ (Guardian)

Rivalry between rebels and Islamists has replaced the uprising’s lofty ideals, leaving veteran commanders despairing.

Chris Looney: Al-Qaeda’s Governance Strategy in Raqqa (Syria Comment)

Since ISIS came to power in May, its abuse of Raqqa’s citizens has been well documented. It has begun to enforce its extreme interpretation of Islam upon the city’s residents, forcing women to “cover their beauty,” banning tobacco products, and brutally repressing dissident voices.
On the surface, this violence appears to be indiscriminate and irrational. Yet, it is also organized and tactical. For a group that has never before fully controlled a large city, the transition from insurgent to administrator has hardly been smooth. Still, ISIS has managed to develop a robust, systemic strategy of governance for Raqqa that links the city to sister strongholds in Iraq. Through the control of goods and services, ISIS has made the city’s residents dependent on it. As intricate as it is oppressive, this strategy is serving ISIS well; ISIS has consolidated its authority in Raqqa as it expands its reach over much of eastern Syria and Iraq.

Richard Sisk: Hagel Says America’s Syria Policy in Turmoil (Military.com)

Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel said Thursday that infighting among rebel factions in Syria left the U.S. in doubt on how to continue support for rebels in the ongoing civil war that has killed more than 120,000 and sent millions of refugees into neighboring countries.
“It’s not an easy choice between the good guys and the bad guys here,” Hagel said at a Pentagon briefing. “This is a problem — what has occurred here — a big problem,” Hagel said.

Mohammed bin Nawaf bin Abdulaziz al Saud: Saudi Arabia Will Go It Alone (New York Times)

Saudi Arabia has been friends with our Western partners for decades; for some, like the United Kingdom where I serve as ambassador, for almost a century. These are strategic alliances that benefit us both. Recently, these relationships have been tested — principally because of differences over Iran and Syria.
We believe that many of the West’s policies on both Iran and Syria risk the stability and security of the Middle East. This is a dangerous gamble, about which we cannot remain silent, and will not stand idly by.

Paul Sperry: Inside the Saudi 9/11 coverup (New York Post)
Amy Goodman, Seymour Hersh: Obama “Cherry-Picked” Intelligence on Syrian Chemical Attack to Justify U.S. Strike (Democracy Now)

Amy Goodman, Juan González and Nermeen Shaikh at Democracy Now had a whole series of interviews and stories on Nelson Mandela:
Piero Gleijeses: The Secret History of How Cuba Helped End Apartheid in South Africa (Democracy Now)
Ronnie Kasrils: The Anti-Apartheid Underground: Ronnie Kasrils on Meeting Nelson Mandela in an ANC Safe House in 1962 (Democracy Now)
Ronnie Kasrils: From Marxism to Neoliberalism. Ronnie Kasrils on How Mandela & ANC Shifted Economic Views (Democracy Now)
Andrew Cockburn: “One of Our Greatest Coups”: The CIA & the Capture of Nelson Mandela (Democracy Now)
Lisa Graves: ALEC’s “Institutional Corruption,” From Backing Apartheid to Assault on Clean Energy, Public Sector (Democracy Now)

Mark Weisbrot: Why the world should care about Honduras’ recent election (Guardian)

Hondurans are revolting against the US-backed outcome. There are too many reports of rampant vote-buying, fraud and violence.

Alberto Arce: Honduras candidate makes case for election fraud (Associated Press)

The opposition presidential candidate in last week’s elections in Honduras is citing allegedly altered tally sheets, ballots cast by dead or absent people, and inadequate monitoring of polling stations in her bid to have a recount of a vote she calls fraudulent.

Giorgio Trucchi: Resultados das eleições em Honduras foram alterados, diz observador da União Europeia (Opera mundi) / The Results of the Elections in Honduras were Changed, Says European Union Observer (Upside Down World)

Leo Gabriel, Austrian journalist and member of the EU-EOM, stated that the vast majority of the members of the mission were in strong disagreement with the preliminary report. According to him, the disagreements about what happened on November 24th provoked a heated internal debate. Nonetheless, political calculations and business interests prevailed and [the EU-EOM] preferred to close their eyes and ignore the obvious changes made to the results and the violation of the Honduran people’s will as expressed at the ballot box.

EFE: UE desautoriza a observador que dice elecciones en Honduras fueron tramposas (ABC)
APA: Honduras: Kritik am Bericht der EU-Mission (Standard)
Honduras Election Monitoring Report (Alliance for Global Justice)

A delegation of 55 North Americans, including numerous lawyers, academics, and a sitting judge has issued a report challenging claims that the Honduras election was “peaceful” and “transparent.” The 28-page report documents vote buying, voter intimidation, bias in voting table officers, violence and threats of violence occurring on and before election day, November 24, 2013.

Kim Willsher: French soldier wears Nazi slogan on uniform in Central African Republic (Guardian)

French military chiefs have launched an investigation to after a soldier serving in the Central African Republic was pictured wearing a Nazi slogan on his uniform.
The man, reportedly from an elite parachute regiment, was photographed in fatigues carrying his rifle. On the right sleeve of his uniform was sewn a round patch carrying the number 32 on a French flag and the words “Meine Ehre heisst Treue” (“my honour is loyalty”). The motto was used by Nazi Waffen-SS soldiers during the second world war and is banned in a number of countries including Germany and Austria…
The controversy follows a similar row in November, when a French soldier in Mali was photographed wearing a scarf printed with a death mask. In 2008, three French soldiers from another parachute regiment, also based in south-west France, were photographed making a Hitler salute while wrapped in a Nazi flag bearing a swastika.

Syria | Korea | South Africa

Seymour M. Hersh: Whose sarin? (London Review of Books)

Barack Obama did not tell the whole story this autumn when he tried to make the case that Bashar al-Assad was responsible for the chemical weapons attack near Damascus on 21 August. In some instances, he omitted important intelligence, and in others he presented assumptions as facts. Most significant, he failed to acknowledge something known to the US intelligence community: that the Syrian army is not the only party in the country’s civil war with access to sarin, the nerve agent that a UN study concluded – without assessing responsibility – had been used in the rocket attack. In the months before the attack, the American intelligence agencies produced a series of highly classified reports, culminating in a formal Operations Order – a planning document that precedes a ground invasion – citing evidence that the al-Nusra Front, a jihadi group affiliated with al-Qaida, had mastered the mechanics of creating sarin and was capable of manufacturing it in quantity. When the attack occurred al-Nusra should have been a suspect, but the administration cherry-picked intelligence to justify a strike against Assad.

US knew Syrian extremists could make sarin, but covered it up (RT)
Michael Collins: Seymour Hersh, Sarin, and the Obama Deception on Syria WMD (thepeoplesvoice)
Michel Kilo: A Shower of Spokesmen (aSharq al-Awsat)

The outside world is benefitting greatly from the complete paralysis in the internal situation in Syria and its failure to live up to the expectations of one of the greatest and most courageous revolutions in history. Thus a serious phenomenon with dangerous results has emerged. This phenomenon has seen a proliferation of people speaking on behalf of the increasingly divided Syrian revolution. This is a phenomenon that has a number of dangerous repercussions, including increasing the state of despair among the Syrian rebels and the opposition, while also causing large categories of Syrian men and women to disavow the revolution and view it as a futile attempt that will have a very high cost. As a result, revolutionary organizations that had previously enjoyed mass support, playing a vital role in the continuation of the revolution, are finding it increasingly difficult to survive.

Jamie Doucette, Se-Woong Koo: Distorting Democracy: Politics by Public Security in Contemporary South Korea (Japan Focus)

Although a full year has not elapsed since the election of South Korea’s President Park Geun-hye [Pak Kŭnhye 朴槿惠], there are already troubling signs that her term as President is going to be a difficult period for both the health of Korean democracy and for liberal and progressive political forces. In the months since she was elected, significant evidence of political and electoral interference by the National Intelligence Service (NIS) and other state agencies has come to light, leading to an expanding series of political scandals, most notably the indictment of former NIS director Won Sei-hoon [Won Sehun 元世勳].
A sitting lawmaker, Lee Seok-ki [Ri Sŏkki 李石基], has been arrested on suspicion of sedition and plotting a rebellion, as well as charges of violating Korea’s National Security Law (NSL). Citing this arrest, the Ministry of Justice has recently moved to disband the United Progressive Party (UPP) [T’onghap jinbodang 統合進步黨], of which Lee is a member, charging that the party’s ‘progressive democracy’ platform is based on “the so-called founding ideology of North Korea”.

Tania Branigan: What does Jang Song-thaek’s ousting mean for North Korea? (Guardian)

“In my view, we cannot even say really if Kim Jong-un was behind this or what exactly this means about Kim. It is done in his name, but it is done by the elite as a group,” said John Delury of Yonsei University. …
“The situation is delicate, fragile and uncertain,” said Cheng Xiaohe of Renmin University in Beijing. …

Rüdiger Frank: The Mysterious Case of Merrill Newman: The Perils and Pitfalls of Traveling to the DPRK (38north)
Apology of U.S. Citizen for His Hostile Acts in DPRK (Korean Central News Agency)

The following is an apology U.S. citizen Merrill Newman presented to a relevant institution after his detention in the DPRK:
I am Merrill Newman living in California, USA. During the Korean War, I have been guilty of a long list of indelible crimes against DPRK government and Korean people as advisor of the Kuwol Unit of the UN Korea 6th Partisan Regiment part of the Intelligence Bureau of the Far East Command. …
Although 60 years have gone by, I came to DPRK on the excuse of the tour as a member of 33 Tour Group from U.S. on October 17, 2013. Shamelessly I had a plan to meet any surviving soldiers and pray for the souls of the dead soldiers in Kuwol Mt. during the Korean war. …
I also brought the e-book criticizing the Socialist DPRK on this trip and criticizing DPRK. …

U.S. Citizen Deported from DPRK (Korean Central News Agency)

Slavoj Žižek: Mandela’s Socialist Failure (New York Times)

In the last two decades of his life, Nelson Mandela was celebrated as a model of how to liberate a country from the colonial yoke without succumbing to the temptation of dictatorial power and anti-capitalist posturing. …
Is this, however, the whole story? Two key facts remain obliterated by this celebratory vision. In South Africa, the miserable life of the poor majority broadly remains the same as under apartheid, and the rise of political and civil rights is counterbalanced by the growing insecurity, violence, and crime. The main change is that the old white ruling class is joined by the new black elite. Secondly, people remember the old African National Congress which promised not only the end of apartheid, but also more social justice, even a kind of socialism. This much more radical ANC past is gradually obliterated from our memory. No wonder that anger is growing among poor, black South Africans.

South Africa | Syria | Egypt | Israel/Palestine | Han Suyin

David Smith: South Africa mine massacre photos prompt claims of official cover-up (Guardian)

Police in South Africa have been accused of planting weapons on the bodies of dead miners as part of an official cover-up of the Marikana massacre, in August.
Damning photographic evidence was presented to an independent commission of inquiry examining the deaths of 46 people during nearly six weeks of violent strikes at the Lonmin-owned mine.

Karin Leukefeld: Gefangene ermordet (junge Welt) / Haltet den Dieb. Massaker in Syrien (junge Welt)

Mai Shams El-Din: New Salafi party has curious policy mix (Egypt Independent)

Gideon Levy: רוב הציבור היהודי תומך באפרטהייד (Haaretz) / Survey: Most Israeli Jews would support apartheid regime in Israel (Israeli Occupation Archive) / Survey: Most Israeli Jews would support apartheid regime in Israel (Haaretz)

Most of the Jewish public in Israel supports the establishment of an apartheid regime in Israel if it formallhy annexes the West Bank. A majority also explicitly favors discrimination against the state’s Arab citizens, a survey shows.

Gideon Levy: נא להכיר: הישראלים (Haaretz) / Apartheid without shame or guilt (Israeli Occupation Archive) / Apartheid without shame or guilt (Haaretz)
Moshé Machover: On Israeli Apartheid (Israeli Occupation Archive)

In my opinion the whole semantic discussion of Israeli “apartheid” skirts around the fundamental question: the underlying political economy of Zionist colonization. …
Zionist colonization and the Israeli settler state differ in a fundamental respect from apartheid in its original, South-African sense. South-African colonization and its settler state were based on exploiting the labour power of the indigenous people. These people were harshly oppressed and severely discriminated; but their presence was vital for the political economy of the settler state. They were an asset. Zionist colonization, in contrast, is more like the colonization of North America and Australia: based not on keeping the natives as a source of exploitable labour power but on excluding them by various forms of ethnic cleansing. The natives are not a source of surplus for the settlers; instead, they themselves are surplus to requirements.
This is much worse for the indigenous people than South-African apartheid, because it is much more difficult to undo.

John Gittings: Han Suyin obituary (Guardian)
Ananth Krishnan: Han Suyin: writer, goodwill ambassador (The Hindu)
Desiree Tresa Gasper: Splendid memories of Dr Han (The Star)
Margalit Fox: Han Suyin Dies; Wrote Sweeping Fiction (New York Times)
Mei Jia: Writer Han Suyin dies at 95 in Lausanne (China Daily)
Alison Lake: Han Suyin, Chinese-born author of ‘A Many-Splendoured Thing,’ dies at 95 (Washington Post)
Jason Chow: Han Suyin, Author of ‘A Many-Splendored Thing,’ Dies at 95 (Wall Street Journal)
And here’s a much more hostile article from the same outlet:
Hugo Restall: A Cheerleader for Mao’s Cultural Revolution (Wall Street Journal)
François Bougon: Han Suyin, écrivain et avocate fidèle du régime maoïste (Le Monde)

South Africa | Philippines | USA | Syria | Palestine | Mali | Afghanistan | Wikileaks

Julie Hyland: South Africa: ANC orders security clampdown against miners’ revolt (WSWS)

More than 40,000 workers are now on strike, forcing three leading platinum and gold producers to halt their operations. …
The Marikana massacre was the worst act of police brutality since the days of apartheid. Some 270 miners arrested during the assault were then charged with complicity in the deaths of their 34 colleagues under the notorious apartheid-era “common purpose law”.
Although the charges have been dropped for now, the latest operation has underscored that the interests of the same multinational and South African firms that profited under apartheid remain intact. The Regulation of Gatherings Act now being enforced by the ANC was notoriously employed by the apartheid government. …
[T]he ANC and its partners in the NUM and the Congress of South African Trade Unions (COSATU) have as little legitimacy as the white minority regime the ANC replaced 18 years before.
Comprising a thin layer of wealthy and corrupt black officials, they have been the sole beneficiaries of the post-apartheid policy of “black economic empowerment”.

Richard Javad Heydarian: Philippines on frontline of US-China rivalry (Asia Times)

… Manila is turning back on almost two decades of relative strategic independence, beginning with the Philippine Senate’s refusal in 1991 to extend the US’s lease at Subic Bay naval base, a military presence nationalistic lawmakers then assailed as a vestige of colonialism and affront to national sovereignty.
Fast forward to the present, Manila is now actively, if not desperately, courting US military support vis-a-vis China.

Amy Goodman: “Effective Evil” or Progressives’ Best Hope? Glen Ford vs. Michael Eric Dyson on Obama Presidency (Democracy Now)

GLEN FORD: … [W]e at Black Agenda Report have for some time been saying that Obama is not the lesser of evils, but the more effective evil. And we base that on his record and also on his rhetoric at the convention. So, we would prefer to talk about what history-making events have gone down under his presidency.
He’s, first of all, created a model for austerity, a veritable model, with his deficit reduction commission. He’s introduced preventive detention, a law for preventive detention. He’s expanded the theaters of war in drone wars, and he’s made an unremitting assault on international law. And I think that possibly the biggest impact, his presidency—and I’m not talking about his—all this light and airy stuff from the convention, but actual deeds—I think probably what will go down as his biggest contribution to history is a kind of merging of the banks and the state, with $16 trillion being infused into these banks, into Wall Street, under his watch, and the line between Wall Street and the federal government virtually disappearing.

Alison Weir: The Democrats’ Jerusalem Arithmetic (CounterPunch)

Corey Oakley: The left, imperialism and the Syrian revolution (Socialist Alternative)
Antonin Amado, Marc de Miramon: Syria’s propaganda war / Syrie, champ de bataille médiatique ‍(Monde diplomatique)
Karin Leukefeld: Jetzt dominieren Last-Minute-Revolutionäre (Neues Deutschland)

Der syrische Oppositionelle Haytham Manna sieht ursprüngliche Ziele der Erhebung in Gefahr

Naima El Moussaoui: Abschied von einer Zwei-Staaten-Lösung (Qantara)

Sari Nusseibeh, prominenter palästinensischer Philosoph und Präsident der Al-Quds Universität in Jerusalem, hält eine Zwei-Staaten-Lösung nicht mehr für realistisch. In seinem neuen Buch “Ein Staat für Palästina?” favorisiert er stattdessen einen binationalen Staat oder eine Konföderation zweier Staaten.

Jacques Delcroze: The Malian model falls apart / Effondrement du rêve démocratique au Mali (Monde diplomatique)

Christian Parenti: Ideology and Electricity: The Soviet Experience in Afghanistan (Nation) / Wer war Nadschibullah? (Monde diplomatique)

Mark Weisbrot: Assange case: Sweden’s shame in violating human rights (AlJazeera)