Catalonia

Sam Jones, Stephen Burgen: Catalan referendum: preliminary results show 90% in favour of independence (Guardian)

Catalan officials have claimed that preliminary results of its referendum have shown 90% in favour of independence in the vote vehemently opposed by Spain.
Jordi Turull, the Catalan regional government spokesman, told reporters early on Monday morning that 90% of the 2.26 million Catalans who voted Sunday chose yes. He said nearly 8% of voters rejected independence and the rest of the ballots were blank or void. He said 15,000 votes were still being counted.The region has 5.3 million registered voters.
Turull said the number of ballots did not include those confiscated by Spanish police during violent raids which resulted in hundreds of people being injured. At least 844 people and 33 police were reported to have been hurt, including at least two people who were thought to have been seriously injured.

Robert Mackey: Spanish Police Beat Catalan Voters, Deepening the Divide That Threatens Spain (Intercept)

Despite claims from Spain’s central government in Madrid that the referendum was illegal and the result would not be recognized, a spokesperson for the Catalan regional government announced early Monday morning that 2,262,424 valid votes had been cast and counted — 90 percent of them in favor of independence from Spain.
Immediately after the announcement, Spanish reporters pressed the spokesperson, Jordi Turull, to say what it meant for the referendum that the 2,262,424 voters comprised just 42 percent of Catalonia’s 5,343,358 eligible voters. Turull argued that ballot boxes seized by the Spanish police in an effort to block the referendum could have contained up to 700,000 more votes, meaning that more than 55 percent of the population might have attempted to take part in the referendum…
Although an international observer mission of former parliamentarians praised the referendum, the EU released a statement Monday morning making it clear that it would not intervene in what it considers an internal affair of a member state. The European Commission added that in the event of a subsequent referendum considered legal by Spain, Catalonia would find itself outside the EU…
In Madrid, Spain’s Prime Minister Mariano Rajoy seemed untroubled by the shocking images of police violence, which he made no mention of in a televised address. Rajoy instead insisted that the Catalan referendum, which he called “an attack” on the Spanish state, had been so severely hampered that it effectively had “not taken place.”

Statement on the events in Catalonia (European Commission)

Under the Spanish Constitution, yesterday’s vote in Catalonia was not legal.
For the European Commission, as President Juncker has reiterated repeatedly, this is an internal matter for Spain that has to be dealt with in line with the constitutional order of Spain.
We also reiterate the legal position held by this Commission as well as by its predecessors. If a referendum were to be organised in line with the Spanish Constitution it would mean that the territory leaving would find itself outside of the European Union.
Beyond the purely legal aspects of this matter, the Commission believes that these are times for unity and stability, not divisiveness and fragmentation.
We call on all relevant players to now move very swiftly from confrontation to dialogue. Violence can never be an instrument in politics. We trust the leadership of Prime Minister Mariano Rajoy to manage this difficult process in full respect of the Spanish Constitution and of the fundamental rights of citizens enshrined therein.

Simon Tisdall: As Catalonia crisis escalates, EU is nowhere to be seen (Guardian)
Natalie Nougayrède: The EU has tied its own hands. It cannot intervene in Catalonia (Guardian)

The EU has long been ill at ease with separatist issues within its member states. It has no mechanism to sort out a dispute of this kind. Article 4.2 of the 2009 Lisbon treaty states that the EU “shall respect” the “essential state functions” of its members, “including territorial integrity” and “maintaining law and order”. The EU has no power over how a member state decides to organise itself or its constituent regions.

Robert Mackey: Massive Protests in Catalonia as General Strike Is Observed (Intercept)

Barcelona’s mayor, Ada Colau, tweeted that 300,000 people marched in a protest that took over two hours to pass in front of local headquarters of the national police force, where demonstrators slowed to whistle, jeer, and chant, but there were no reports of violence.

Sam Jones, Stephen Burgen: Catalonia: hundreds of thousands join anti-independence rally in Barcelona (Guardian)

Hundreds of thousands of people have taken to the streets of Barcelona to protest against the Catalan government’s decision to push for independence, as Spain’s prime minister warned that he was prepared to suspend the region’s autonomy to stop it splitting from the rest of the country…
Societat Civil Catalana said more than 1 million people had taken part, but Barcelona police put the turnout at 350,000.

Germany | Catalonia

Victor Grossman: Merkel Clobbered, German Far Right Rising (CounterPunch)

A key result of the German elections is not that Angela Merkel and her double party, Christian Democratic Union (CDU) and Bavarian CSU (Christian Social Union), managed to stay in the lead with the most votes, but that they got clobbered, with the biggest loss since their founding.
A second key result is that the Social Democrats (SPD) got clobbered too, also with the worst results since the war. And since these three had been wedded in a coalition government for the past four years, their clobbering showed that many voters were not the happy, satisfied citizens often pictured by You-never-had-it-so-good-Merkel, but are worried, disturbed and angry. So angry that they rejected the leading parties of the Establishment, those representing and defending the status quo.
A third key story, the truly alarming one, is that one eighth of the voters, almost 13 percent, vented their anger in an extremely dangerous direction – for the young Alternative for Germany (AfD) party, whose leaders are loosely divided between far right racists and extreme right racists. With about 80 loud deputies in the new Bundestag – their first breakthrough nationally – the media must now give them far more space than before to spout their poisonous message (and most media have been more than generous with them up till now).
This danger is worst in Saxony, the strongest East German state, ruled since unification by a conservative CDU. The AfD has pushed into first place with 27 %, narrowly beating the CDU by a tenth of a percentage point, their first such victory in any state (the Left got 16.1, the SPD only 10.5 % in Saxony).

Carles Puigdemont: Spain’s attempt to block Catalonia’s referendum is a violation of our basic rights (Guardian)

Democracy has been under a lot of pressure in Catalonia for the past few weeks. European values, civil rights, freedom of speech, freedom of information and freedom of assembly are being violated by Spain’s central government, which has sent the police to search newspapers, printing companies and private mail services; ban political meetings; seize referendum material; and threaten to imprison democratically elected politicians.
On Wednesday, this moved up a gear, when threats became reality and Spanish paramilitary police took Catalonia to a de facto state of emergency. Fourteen high-ranking government officials were arrested as part of the anti-referendum operation, as police raided government buildings, offices and private homes. Catalan home rule has effectively been suspended due to this anti-democratic attitude from the Spanish government. It’s a situation that harks back to the dark past of this country, when democracy was not a part of the Spanish dictionary. What is happening here in Catalonia would not happen anywhere else in the European Union.

Sam Jones, Stephen Burgen: Spain’s attorney general refuses to rule out arrest of Catalan president (Guardian)

Spain’s attorney general has refused to rule out the possibility of arresting the Catalan president, as the region’s pro-sovereignty government prepares to defy Madrid by holding an independence referendum on Sunday.
José Manuel Maza said that Carles Puigdemont could face action for disobedience, breaching public duties and misuse of public funds for proceeding with the poll after Spain’s constitutional court suspended the hastily passed legislation underpinning the vote.
Maza said the regional president could be arrested for misuse of public funds as the crime carries a jail sentence. On Monday, he told Onda Cero radio that although such a move had not been judged “timely” as yet, adding: “It’s a decision that’s always available.”
Speaking days after Spanish police arrested 14 Catalan officials, seized almost 10m ballot papers and chartered ferries to accommodate the thousands of extra police officers who are being sent to Catalonia to stop the referendum, Maza rejected suggestions that the government was being heavy-handed.

Shimon Stein, Moshe Zimmerman: Why Israel Won’t Condemn the Shocking Success of Germany’s Far-right Extremists (Haaretz via Google News)

After its improper, evasive, even complicit responses to Charlottesville, to Trump and to Hungary’s anti-Semitic anti-Soros campaign, it’s no surprise that Israel’s response to neo-Nazis in the Bundestag is a deafening silence…
Not that Netanyahu or other fighters for the Jewish cause miss a chance to smell what seems to them to be an anti-Semitic rat: When the German foreign minister visited Israel and met representatives of the Breaking the Silence NGO, he and his Social Democratic party were accused of being anti-Semitic.
When the Mayor of Berlin (also a Social Democrat) was not quick enough in condemning the BDS movement he was even threatened by the Wiesenthal Center to be put on the list of top ten anti-Semites worldwide. 
In short, anti-Semitism is attributed primarily to those who do not support the Israeli government’s policy…
In a few weeks another right-wing populist party, the Austrian one, will be on the verge of entering the government. Is Israel going to disregard the racist character of this party too, and tolerate its entry into the government only because its leader declared his sympathy for Israel’s policies?

Korea | Myanmar | Catalonia

Jon Schwarz: North Korea keeps saying it might give up its nuclear weapons – but most news outlets won’t tell you that (Intercept)

North Korea has been saying over and over again that it might put its nuclear weapons and missiles on the negotiating table if the United States would end its own threatening posture…
This fact has been completely obscured by U.S. and other western media. For the most part, newspapers and television have simply ignored North Korea’s position. When they haven’t ignored it, they’ve usually mispresented it as its opposite – i.e., claiming that North Korea is saying that it will never surrender its nuclear weapons under any circumstances.

Robert Carlin: Door to Negotiations, or No? (38 North)
Jon Schwarz: North Korea says it might negotiate on nuclear weapons. But the Washington Post isn’t reporting that (Intercept)
Julian Borger, Justin McCurry: North Korea sanctions: US drops oil embargo and naval blockade proposals (Guardian)

The US has significantly diluted a package of new proposed sanctions against North Korea, dropping an oil embargo and enforceable naval blockade in the hope of avoiding a Chinese veto at the UN security council.

Julian Borger: Donald Trump threatens to ‘totally destroy’ North Korea in UN speech (Guardian)

“The US has great strength and patience,” Trump said. But he added: “If it is forced to defend ourselves or our allies, we will have no choice but to totally destroy North Korea.”
As alarmed murmurs spread around the hall, Trump had another barb. Using his newly adopted epithet for Kim Jong-un, Trump said: “Rocket Man is on a suicide mission for himself and for his regime.”

Mike Whitney: Starve Them to Death: Wall Street Journal’s Solution to North Korea (CounterPunch)

Oliver Holmes, Katharine Murphy, Damien Gayle: Myanmar says 40% of Rohingya villages targeted by army are now empty (Guardian)

Scores of villages that were inhabited by Myanmar’s Muslim Rohingya minority are now completely empty, a government spokesman has said.
Of 471 villages targeted in “clearance operations” by the Burmese army since late August, 176 were now empty and at least 34 others partially abandoned, Zaw Htay said.
The violent crackdown, launched in response to attacks by militants, has sent at least 370,000 Rohingya scrambling across the border to Bangladesh…

Oliver Holmes: Fact check: Aung San Suu Kyi’s speech on the Rohingya crisis (Guardian)

“Since 5 September, there have been no armed clashes and there have been no clearance operations.”
False: Setting villages ablaze – which can be seen from Bangladesh – continues, while armed clashes have been heard regularly in Rakhine since 5 September. Aung San Suu Kyi’s own office reported on its Facebook page that security personnel have conducted “clearance operations” since then.

Ramzy Baroud: The Genocide of the Rohingya: Big Oil, Failed Democracy and False Prophets (CounterPunch)

Stories of murder and mayhem remind one of the ethnic cleansing of the Palestinian people during the Nakba of 1948. It should come as no surprise that Israel is one of the biggest suppliers of weapons to the Burmese military. Despite an extended arms embargo on Burma by many countries, Israel’s Defense Minister, Avigdor Lieberman, insists that his country has no intentions of halting its weapons shipments to the despicable regime in Rangoon, which is actively using these weapons against its own minorities, not only Muslims in the western Rakhine state but also Christians in the north…
Massive deposits of oil that have remained untapped due to decades of western boycott of the junta government are now available to the highest bidder. It is a big oil bonanza, and all are invited. Shell, ENI, Total, Chevron and many others are investing large sums to exploit the country’s natural resources, while the Chinese – who dominated Burma’s economy for many years – are being slowly pushed out.
Indeed, the rivalry over Burma’s unexploited wealth is at its peak in decades. It is this wealth – and the need to undermine China’s superpower status in Asia – that has brought the west back, installed Aung San Suu Kyi as a leader in a country that has never fundamentally changed, but only rebranded itself to pave the road for the return of ‘Big Oil’.
However, the Rohingya are paying the price.

Hereward Holland: Hunting for Myanmar’s hidden treasure (AlJazeera, 17 October 2014)

Western nations are moving into the resource-rich country after decades of disinterest, challenging China’s interests.

Sam Jones: Catalonia to hold independence vote despite anger in Madrid (Guardian)

The Spanish government has accused the Catalan parliament of committing a “constitutional and democratic atrocity” by approving legislation to allow next month’s bitterly disputed independence referendum to go ahead…
The move was denounced by the Spanish government, which once again said it would do everything in its legal and political power to stop the vote from going ahead on 1 October.
The Spanish prime minister, Mariano Rajoy, ordered government lawyers to file a complaint with the country’s constitutional court so that the vote could be annulled.
The public prosecutor’s office also said it was preparing a case against Catalan parliamentary officials – including the speaker, Carme Forcadell – for disobeying previous court orders forbidding legislative steps towards independence…
In March this year, the former Catalan president Artur Mas was banned from holding public office for two years after being found guilty of disobeying the Spanish constitutional court by holding a symbolic independence referendum in 2014. Also convicted and temporarily banned from office were the former Catalan vice-president Joana Ortega and former education minister Irene Rigau…
A majority of Catalans are in favour of a referendum to settle the question of independence, but polls suggest they are split on the issue of sovereignty.

Sam Jones, Daniel Boffey: ‘They’ve called me a traitor’: Catalans divided as independence vote nears (Guardian)

A Spanish government official describes the referendum as a circus and claims Madrid has a democratic duty to protect the “silent majority” of Catalans who oppose independence and to make sure the dispute doesn’t descend into violence.
“It’s very important for a government to create a situation where there is a peaceful relationship among people, and this is not the case in Catalonia now,” he says.
The official defends the confiscation of more than 1.5m referendum leaflets and posters, saying they were part of an illegal poll and adding: “We always react with a cool head, [and in a] measured way; a proportional way.” …
Last Wednesday, Spain’s top prosecutor began investigating the more than 700 Catalan mayors who have agreed to cooperate with the vote, and has ordered police to arrest any who fail to appear for questioning. Madrid has also moved to take control of the region’s finances to prevent the funds being used for the referendum.
Meanwhile, Spanish Guardia Civil officers have raided local newspaper offices and printing shops in Catalonia.

AFP: Spain’s Guardia Civil raids Catalan government HQ amid referendum row (Guardian)

Spanish police officers have raided three Catalan regional government departments and arrested 12 senior officials as Madrid steps up its battle to stop an independence referendum being held in less than two weeks’ time.
On Wednesday morning, a spokesman for the regional government said Guardia Civil officers were searching the Barcelona offices of the presidency and the ministries of economic affairs and foreign relations.
He also confirmed that Josep Maria Jové, the secretary general of economic affairs and an aide to the Catalan vice-president, was among those detained – apparently in connection with the launch of web pages related to the referendum. Catalan ministers are due to hold an emergency meeting…
One pro-independence Catalan MP tweeted: “This is a coup d’état. Illegal detentions and searches. They want to steal our democracy. They won’t be able to. We vote Oct 1.”
The conservative government of the Spanish prime minister, Mariano Rajoy, has refused to rule anything out when it comes to preventing the vote from taking place on 1 October. Both the government and the Spanish constitutional court have said the unilateral referendum is illegal and should not go ahead.

Glenn Greenwald: Charlie Hebdo May Now Be Criticized Because It Mocked White Texans Rather Than Muslims (Intercept)

The newfound free speech crusaders borne of the January 2015 murders of 10 Charlie Hebdo cartoonists in Paris sought to promulgate a new and quite dangerous standard. It was no longer enough to defend someone’s right to express their ideas while being free to condemn those ideas themselves — long the central tenet of the free speech movement (I defend their right to free speech even while finding them and their ideas repugnant). In the wake of the Hebdo killings, one had to go much further than that: It was a moral imperative to embrace and celebrate the ideas under attack and to glorify those who were expressing them, even to declare ourselves to be them (#JeSuisCharlie)… A dangerous conflation was thus imposed between the right to express Idea X and one’s opinion of Idea X…
Indeed, most of the political leaders who led the “free speech parade” in Paris (pictured above) had long records of suppressing free speech, and few of these new free speech crusaders uttered a word as the free speech rights of Muslims have been assaulted and eroded throughout the West in the name of the war on terror. What was driving this love of Charlie Hebdo was approval of the content of its cartoons: specifically, glee that it was attacking, mocking, and angering Muslims, one of the most marginalized, vulnerable, and despised groups in the West.
The proof of this was delivered yesterday. Charlie Hebdo published a characteristically vile cartoon depicting drowning victims of Hurricane Harvey in Houston as being neo-Nazis, with the banner that declared “God Exists”: because, needless to say, white people in Texas love Hitler, and it’s thus a form of divine justice if they drown.

Glenn Greenwald: In Europe, Hate Speech Laws are Often Used to Suppress and Punish Left-Wing Viewpoints (Intercept)

France is probably the most extreme case of hate speech laws being abused in this manner. In 2015, France’s highest court upheld the criminal conviction of 12 pro-Palestinian activists for violating restrictions against hate speech. Their crime? Wearing T-shirts that advocated a boycott of Israel — “Long live Palestine, boycott Israel,” the shirts read — which, the court ruled, violated French law that “prescribes imprisonment or a fine of up to $50,000 for parties that ‘provoke discrimination, hatred or violence toward a person or group of people on grounds of their origin, their belonging or their not belonging to an ethnic group, a nation, a race or a certain religion.’”

Turkey | Brexit | USA | Israel/Palestine

Sungur Savran: Turkey: A war of two coups (RedMed) / Πόλεμος δύο πραξικοπήματον (Εργατικό Επαναστατικό Κόμμα)

On the night of 15-16 July, Turkey went through a cataclysm that stunned the world: a huge section of the armed forces of the country (TSK in its Turkish acronym) attempted to take power from the government of Recep Tayyip Erdoğan and the AKP, came very close to its objective, but was ultimately defeated. Official statements of imperialist countries celebrate the triumph of democracy. Nothing can be farther from the truth. Furthermore, many commentators, remaining captive to the official explanation of the AKP government, point to the followers of Fethullah Gülen, a powerful imam who has been residing in the US for close to two decades now, as the culprit behind the coup. This is a mystification used by the AKP for various purposes, the most important being to ostracise the Gülenists and to hide from view that a much wider array of forces within the army have taken up arms. And on the left and far left, many are filled with excitement at the sight of civilians climbing over tanks and challenging with bare hands the heavily armed soldiers of the putschist forces. This, too, is a very distorted picture.
The correct characterisation of the coup is not one of democracy defeating dictatorship. Two despotic forces faced each other and the more gradualist one won…
Historically speaking, the Turkish bourgeoisie has been firmly committed to the so-called Western alliance. After World War Two, the country took its place as the only majority Muslim country in organisations as diverse as the European Council, the OECD, and NATO and has been desperately trying its hand at accession to the European Union (EU) for a full half century. This was very much in consonance with the orientation of the Kemalist republic established in 1923, which adopted a line which almost forcibly tore Turkish society from Islamic or oriental mores, customs, and culture and tried to make it a part of what Mustafa Kemal Atatürk, the strongman of Kemalism, called “contemporary civilisation”, i.e. the Western world. The unstoppable rise of the Islamist movement from the 1970s onwards was closely related to the profound reaction of the working masses and the poor of the country to this forcible move and the divide between them and the ways of the bourgeoisie not only socio-economically but also culturally. Having taken over the position of leadership in this movement from the historic leader Erbakan in the early 2000s, Erdoğan, a capitalist merchant of humble beginnings, seemed to the masses as “their man”. This, in effect, explains an overwhelming part of his extremely charismatic popularity with half the electorate.
This, of course, is only half the story. The other part is the rise of what was a provincial bourgeoisie, aspiring to become rich and powerful like their earlier dominant Westernised class brethren, but, feeling like the underdog, produced a different kind of political movement which posed an alternative programme of Islamic unity, not only politically but economically as well. This wing grew beyond a provincial wing of the bourgeoisie into finance capital by the 1990s, they strove for power. The AKP is the expression of this class fraction.

Peter Schwarz: US and Germany livid over failure of Turkish coup (World Socialist Web Site)

Judging by the reactions of the American and German governments to the failed coup in Turkey, there can be no doubt that they supported the rebels politically and had hoped for their success.
Washington, like Berlin, allowed much time to pass before tersely condemning the coup, only speaking out unequivocally when it was clear that the rebels had failed.

Turkish coupists planned to charge Erdogan with overly gentle treatment of Kurds (RT)

Those behind the the attempted coup in Turkey planned to accuse President Erdogan and his inner circle of aiding terror by negotiating with the PKK before launching a military crackdown on Kurds, Turkish media reported citing a document recovered by police.
A petition to initiate a judicial process against the Turkish government was discovered during a search of the office of Public Prosecutor Mehmet Sel in Istanbul, who was detained following the failed coup attempt.

Sam Jones: Separatist movement in Catalonia escalates battle with Madrid (Guardian)

The separatist movement in Catalonia’s parliament has escalated its battle with Madrid after it defied Spain’s constitutional court by debating a controversial pro-independence roadmap, and the region’s president announced a confidence vote to consolidate the move towards sovereignty…
Last November, the Catalan parliament voted to begin the process of breaking away from Spain after separatist MPs used their majority to pass legislation to effect a “disconnection from the Spanish state” and pave the way for an independent Catalan state.

The EU and Britain – beacons of democracy:
Karthick Arvinth: Brexit vote is not legally binding, say lawyers (International Business Times)

More than 1,000 lawyers across the UK have signed a letter addressed to Prime Minister David Cameron insisting that last month’s vote to leave the European Union is not legally binding.

Jacob Kornbluh: GOP Platform to Drop Support for Two State Solution (Haaretz / Jewish Insider)

‘We reject the false notion that Israel is an occupier,’ reads platform draft. According to people involved in the draft, Trump’s Israel advisers and pro-Israel groups in Republican Party worked together to take out support for Palestinian state.

Yair Ettinger: Israel Destroys 20 Palestinian Structures in East Jerusalem (Haaretz, also via Google News)

Police use riot-control measures to quell protests against destruction of buildings, some beyond the separation barrier in Palestinian locales.

Larry Derfner: Why Are Israeli Soldiers Fraternizing With Hebron’s Most Racist, Terrorist-inciting Settlers? (Haaretz, also via Google News)

Boston-born Hebron settler Baruch Marzel glorifies Arab-killers. We shouldn’t be surprised that one of his regular Shabbat lunchtime guests, Sgt. Elor Azaria, is on trial for shooting dead an incapacitated Palestinian.

Vivian Eden: The Mahmoud Darwish Poem That Enraged Lieberman and Regev (Haaretz)

An Army Radio discussion of an early work by Mahmoud Darwish has caused an uproar. Here is the poem: ID Card.

Israeli liberals are seriously worried:
Gideon Levy: כן, מדינת רשע | Stop Living in Denial, Israel Is an Evil State (Haaretz, also via Google News)

אחרי שאמרנו לאומנות וגזענות, שנאת ערבים וזילות חייהם, פולחן ביטחון והתנגדות לכיבוש, התקרבנות ומשיחיות, צריך להוסיף עוד מרכיב אחד, שבלעדיו אי אפשר להסביר את התנהגותו של משטר הכיבוש הישראלי: הרוע. הרוע המזוקק. הרוע הסדיסטי. הרוע לשמו. לפעמים הוא ההסבר היחיד.
After we’ve cited nationalism and racism, hatred and contempt for Arab life, the security cult and resistance to the occupation, victimhood and messianism, one more element must be added without which the behavior of the Israeli occupation regime cannot be explained: Evil. Pure evil. Sadistic evil. Evil for its own sake. Sometimes, it’s the only explanation.

Gideon Levy: What Sort of Society Feels Absolutely Nothing After Killing Hundreds of Children? (Haaretz, also via Google News)

Israel killed 546 Palestinian children over the course of only 50 days in Gaza in 2014. Of those, 180 were babies and toddlers under the age of five…
Try to imagine – the army killed 546 children in the course of 50 days. More than 10 children a day, a classroom every three days. Try to imagine.

Eva Illouz: הגיעה העת לבחון מחדש את הבנאליות של הרוע (Haaretz, also via Google News)

להפחית במשמעות של מקרה אלאור אזריה כמקרה בודד היא סוג של פשיטת רגל מוסרית. המעשים האלה מהווים דפוס עקבי. יהיו שיטענו כי הדפוס הזה טמון בשורשי הציונות עצמה. אני סבורה שניתן לזהותו באידיאולוגיית ההתנחלויות, שעיוותה לחלוטין את רוחה וכוונותיה של הציונות על ידי הכללתן בהשקפה משיחית וקידוש האדמה

Gary Jones: The Chinese volunteers who fought in the Spanish civil war – their amazing courage and obscure fates (South China Morning Post)

Illiterate farmers, manual labourers, civil servants – some 100 Chinese joined the International Brigades helping fight General Franco’s fascists 80 years ago. Despite being few in number, they left a lasting impression.

And some theories from mainstream economics:
Marshall Steinbaum: Should the Middle Class Fear the World’s Poor? (Boston Review)

France | USA

Glenn Greenwald, Nermeen Shaikh, Amy Goodman: “Shameless” U.S. Officials Exploit Paris Attacks to Defend Spying & Attack Snowden (Democracy Now)

As France and Belgium move to expand state power in the aftermath of the Paris attacks, top U.S. officials have renewed a push to defend mass surveillance and dismiss those who challenge it. On Wednesday, FBI Director James Comey said intelligence and law enforcement officials need to have access to encrypted information on smartphones, despite no evidence that the Paris attackers used encryption. Meanwhile, others have used the Paris attacks to criticize NSA whistleblower Edward Snowden. In recent days, CIA Director John Brennan has suggested revelations about mass spying have made it harder to find terrorists, while former CIA Director James Woolsey has said Snowden has blood on his hands. “We have not heard such blatant, shameless lying from intelligence and military officials since 2002 and 2003 when they propagandized the country into invading Iraq based on utterly false pretenses,” says The Intercept’s Glenn Greenwald, the Pulitzer-winning journalist who exposed NSA mass surveillance based on Snowden’s leaks.

Amy Goodman, Nermeen Shaikh: Glenn Greenwald on “Submissive” Media’s Drumbeat for War and “Despicable” Anti-Muslim Scapegoating (Democracy Now)
Grey Anderson: The French Emergency (Jacobin)

From Algeria to the Paris attacks, French elites have used state of emergency legislation to consolidate power and repress dissent.

Ian Birchall: The Wrong Kind of Secularism (Jacobin)

The French secular ideal of laïcité is not a misused noble idea — it is deeply flawed at its roots…
Today laïcité serves as a justification for a variety of things — from banning headscarf-wearing mothers from accompanying their children on school outings to telling Muslim and Jewish schoolchildren that they must eat pork or go hungry.
But laïcité is not simply an idea that has been appropriated by the Right for political or cultural ends; it is also a value claimed by the Left, even the far left…
In 1886 Lafargue published a satire entitled La Religion du capital (The Religion of Capital). He imagined a conference in London with economic and political representatives of European capitalism — Clemenceau, Rothschild, Gladstone, Herbert Spencer, von Moltke, etc. Among those attending were Ferry and Paul Bert, who as education minister had been one of Ferry’s main allies in establishing laïcité. Their concern was to enable the survival of capitalism. And for that, a religion of some sort was required…
Some of the sharpest criticism of laïcité came from the anarchist and syndicalist currents; the anarchist position could be summed up as “neither the church nor the state.” As Sébastien Faure put it, the Christian school was “organised by the Church and for it, while the “école laïque” was “organised by the state and for it.” He counterposed the idea of “the school of the future . . . organised for the child.” André Lorulot put it rather more crudely, calling state schoolteachers “intellectual cops of the capitalist class.”…
Despite some opposing voices, laïcité largely achieved its goal of solidifying a national identity backed by military might…
The traditions of criticism of laïcité persisted after the First World War. The journal Clarté, close to but not entirely controlled by the Communist Party, reported on educational developments in post-revolutionary Russia that might offer an alternative to church or state education. An educational conference held in Moscow in 1919, for instance, dismissed academic neutrality and laïcité as a “mug’s game” (attrape-nigaud) designed to serve the interests of the bourgeoisie…
Today, with the concept being used in the service of Islamophobia, it is especially important to knock laïcité down from its elevated status. And that requires understanding laïcité not as a noble ideal that has been misinterpreted and distorted, but as deeply flawed from the outset.

The media after Paris: from fear to loathing, by way of made-up facts (Guardian)

Anti-immigration sentiment across Europe begins to make more sense when you realise that Brits and Spaniards think they have twice as many immigrants in their country as they actually do, the Italians, Belgians and French assume there are three times as many as there are, the Hungarians eight times and the Poles more than 30 times.

Gilbert Achcar: France Returns to the State of Exception (Jacobin)

The discourse of war is already upon us. But it must be resisted.

Don’t let them use Paris as a pretext! (International Action Center)
John Catalinotto: Historic crimes of the French military (International Action Centre)

Many young people in Paris were innocent victims of the Nov. 13 attack, but that doesn’t mean that the French imperialist state is innocent. While the 1789 French Revolution raised the idealistic slogans of liberty, equality and fraternity, French imperialism, which developed from that bourgeois revolution, has a bloody history across the world…
When imperialist France had just emerged from German occupation after World War II, the Arab and Berber peoples began carrying out mass demonstrations and uprisings in Algeria against French colonial rule. To suppress that rebellion, for several days French troops and police, acting on orders from the French president issued on May 8, 1945, massacred as many as 45,000 Algerians who peacefully demonstrated in the cities of Setif, Guelma and Kherrata. The French occupiers killed as many as a million Algerians trying to hold onto that nation, until the people finally won their liberation in 1962.
In 1947, French colonial troops slaughtered 89,000 people to “pacify” a rebellion in Madagascar, an African island in the Indian Ocean. During the long French war in Indochina, the French military killed many more Vietnamese, Laotians, Cambodians and some Chinese until French imperialism was finally driven out in 1954.
Even in Paris itself, on Oct. 17, 1961, French police opened fire on a demonstration of 30,000 Algerians, killing between 70 and 300 people …
This history of imperialist military intervention continues. French jets are bombing today in Syria and Iraq, along with the U.S.-led “coalition.” French jets opened the air war against Libya in 2011, leading NATO’s barbaric destruction of that country.

Mass Surveillance Isn’t the Answer to Fighting Terrorism (New York Times)

It’s a wretched yet predictable ritual after each new terrorist attack: Certain politicians and government officials waste no time exploiting the tragedy for their own ends. The remarks on Monday by John Brennan, the director of the Central Intelligence Agency, took that to a new and disgraceful low…
It is hard to believe anything Mr. Brennan says.

The Drone Papers (Intercept)

The Intercept has obtained a cache of secret documents detailing the inner workings of the U.S. military’s assassination program in Afghanistan, Yemen, and Somalia. The documents, provided by a whistleblower, offer an unprecedented glimpse into Obama’s drone wars.

Nicole Aschoff, Connor Kilpatrick, Paul Heideman: The Socialism of Bernie Sanders (Jacobin)

The novelty of Bernie Sanders has long been his adoption of the term “democratic socialist” to describe his political beliefs. On the presidential campaign trail, by way of definition, he’s repeatedly pointed to European countries with relatively robust welfare states.
On Thursday, in a major campaign address, he turned back stateside. Sanders cast himself not as the heir of Eugene Debs — a portrait of whom hangs in his congressional office — but of Franklin Roosevelt. In short, for Sanders, democratic socialism means New Deal liberalism.

Palestine | Syria | Andalusia | Fortress Europe

Yoav Haifawi: Israeli police lock up Haifa activist for Facebook statuses (972mag)

Police detained and held Razi Nabulsi, a young Palestinian from Haifa for a week for statuses he posted to Facebook and Twitter, claiming they constituted incitement. The catch? Even though the statuses were posted publicly on the Internet, police declared them to be secret evidence and refused to publicly say in court what he was accused of writing.

Noam Sheizaf: EU to bypass its own anti-settlements guidelines (972mag)

Israeli and European officials are reportedly nearing an agreement that would allow Israeli institutions to continue operating freely in the West Bank while enjoying EU grants.

Yoav Haifawi: Syria – How did it all Begin? (Free Haifa)

It is basically revolution of the Syrian society, pulling the thrones of tyranny from its suffering body. It is a revolution that starts with the defense of human dignity and its main aim is to put an end to humiliation.

Nafeez Mosaddeq Ahmed: Fixing intelligence on Syria? (Monde diplomatique)

Dan Hancox: Spain’s communist model village (Guardian)

Marinaleda, in impoverished Andalusia, used to suffer terrible hardships. Led by a charismatic mayor, the village declared itself a communist utopia and took farmland to provide for everyone. Could it be the answer to modern capitalism’s failings?

To understand what happened near Lampedusa:
Philippe Rekacewicz: Mapping Europe’s war on immigration (Monde diplomatique)

Europe has built a fortress around itself to protect itself from ‘illegal’ immigration from the South, from peoples fleeing civil war, conflict and devastating poverty. The story is best understood through maps.

Palestine | Libya | Catalonia | Bangladesh | Kameroon

Michael Astor, Peter J. Spielmann: UN vote recognizes state of Palestine; US objects (AP/Google)

In an extraordinary lineup of international support, more than two-thirds of the world body’s 193 member states approved the resolution upgrading the Palestinians’ status from an observer to a nonmember observer state on Thursday. It passed 138-9, with 41 abstentions.

Ryan Craggs: Countries That Voted Against Palestine At UN Include United States, Israel And Canada (Huffington Post)

Just nine nations voted against the Palestinian Authority’s upgrade to nonvoting observer state status, which passed the General Assembly 138-9, with 41 abstentions.
Voting “no” Thursday were Israel, the United States and Canada, joined by the Czech Republic, Panama and several Pacific island nations: Marshall Islands, Micronesia, Nauru and Palau.

Robert Fisk, Uri Avnery: One of Israel’s great leftist warriors wants peace with Hamas and Gaza – but does the Knesset? (Independent)
Reuters: Palestine envoy says Beijing backs U.N. entry (Townhall.com)
Barak Ravid: ישראל מחרימה 460 מיליון שקלים מכספי הרשות הפלסטינית Israel confiscates NIS 460 million in Palestinian Authority tax funds (Haaretz, ‘via DuckDuckGo and Google)
Amira Hass: אם אין מים, תשתו בננות P[alestinian] farmers hung out to dry while Israelis flourish in Jordan Valley (Haaretz, via DuckDuckGo and Google)
Seumas Milne: It’s Palestinians who have the right to defend themselves (Guardian)
Sergio Yahni: Cairo truce: sole path to independence is resistance (Alternative Information Centre)
Tom Segev: אלף כיבושים לא יכניעו את עזה (Haaretz) / Gaza without Gazans: History of an Israeli fantasy (Haaretz, via DuckDuckGo and Google News)
AFP Gaza office hit by Israeli strike, 3 Palestinian reporters killed in other attacks (RT)

Israel struck media offices in Gaza twice on Tuesday and killed three Palestinian journalists. The IDF claimed the buildings, which included an AFP bureau, were being used by Hamas to direct military operations, and were legitimate targets.
Two Israeli strikes have left three Palestinian journalists dead, with media buildings targeted by the IDF two days in a row. The AFP building was hit in another attack later on, with no casualties reported.

Dennis Bernstein, John Pilger: Israel’s Gaza Rampage: It’s Not Just War (CounterPunch)
Chris McGreal: ‘Israelis talk about fear, we Palestinians talk about death’ (Guardian)
Patrick O. Strickland: Blasting the Palestinians Back in Time (CounterPunch)
Gili Cohen: IDF arrests Hamas MP in West Bank (Haaretz)
Marlène Schnieper, Ilan Pappe: «Der jüdische Staat kann sich jeden Bruch mit dem Recht leisten» (Basler Zeitung)

Daniel Kovalik: Libya & Creative Destruction (CounterPunch)

Sirte suffered a catastrophe according to . . . many eyewitness descriptions of endless rows of buildings on fire, corpses of the executed lying on hospital lawns, mass graves, homes looted and burned by insurgents, apartment blocks flattened by NATO bombs. This is what ‘protecting civilians’ actually looks like, and it looks like crimes against humanity. Far from the romantic image of all of Libya having risen up against the ‘evil tyrant,’ this was one side of Libya destroying the other with the aid (to say the least) of foreign forces. …
Forte makes a strong case that the U.S. — despite some warming of relations with Gaddafi before the February, 2011 uprising — had continued to be frustrated with Gaddafi’s blocking of infrastructure projects for such U.S. companies as Bechtel and Caterpillar, instead granting these projects to Russian, Chinese and German concerns.

Samir Amin: An Arab Springtime? (Monthly Review)

Martin Roberts: Catalan separatists ‘fall short of majority’ in elections (Guardian)
Ralf Streck: Katalonien wählt radikale Unabhängigkeitsbefürworter (Telepolis)

Jason Burke, Saad Hammadi: Bangladesh textile factory fire leaves more than 100 dead (Guardian)

Augusta Conchiglia: Ghosts of Kamerun (New Left Review)

Shozab Raza, Parmbir Gill, Cornel West: “He’s had four years and proved himself to be a Wall Street President!” (CounterPunch)

Assange Ill, May Seek Safe Passage to Hospital (Novinite)

Philippines | Venezuela | Iran | Korea | Spain | France/Algeria | Chomsky in Gaza | Palestine/Israel | Finkelstein

Richard Javad Heydarian: US ‘pivots’ on the Philippines (Asia Times)

Gabriel Hetland: Why Chavez Won (CounterPunch)

On October 7th, Venezuelans voted to give Hugo Chavez a fourth term as president. With a historic turnout of over 80% of the electorate (a remarkable figure in a country where voting is not mandatory), Chavez handily defeated opposition candidate Henrique Capriles Radonski by an eleven-point margin: 55.14% to 44.24%.i In seeking to account for why this has occurred, mainstream media have studiously avoided the most straightforward explanation: a majority of Venezuelans support Chavez and the policies his administration has implemented over the last fourteen years.

Vijay Prashad: Bomb, Bomb, Bomb Iran (CounterPunch)

What was Netanyahu’s case against Iran? That Iran is close to having a nuclear bomb. This is an old saw from Bibi. In 1992, as a Member of the Knesset, Netanyahu predicted that Iran was “three to five years” from a nuclear weapon. He was wrong in 1992, and he is wrong now. Take the case of the International Atomic Energy Agency’s (IAEA) recent reports on Iran. The Director General of the IAEA provided a report to the IAEA’s Board of Governors on August 30, 2012. If you are able to get through the bureaucratic and legalistic verbiage, you’ll get to the two important sentences: (1) that the IAEA is confident about “the absence of undeclared nuclear material and activities in Iran”; and (2) that the IAEA can “conclude that all nuclear materials in Iran is in peaceful activities.”

Markus Kompa: Iran könnte „in wenigen Monaten“ die Atombombe haben – seit 1979 (Telepolis)

Rüdiger Frank: An Atmosphere of Departure and Two Speeds, Korean Style: Where is North Korea Heading? (38north)

Juan Antonio Anunión: Wert quiere “españolizar” Cataluña (El país)

Reuters: François Hollande acknowledges 1961 massacre of Algerians in Paris (Guardian)

James Green: An Interview With Norman Finkelstein (CounterPunch)

Rami Almeghari: Chomsky in Gaza: academic boycott “will strengthen support for Israel” (Electronic Intifada)
Rana Baker: Reflections on Noam Chomsky’s visit to Gaza (Electronic Intifada)
Jonathan Cook: The full story behind the war against free speech in Israel’s universities (Electronic Intifada)
Harriet Sherwood: Israel’s cranes reprove Barack Obama’s failure to pursue two-state solution (Guardian)
Budour Youssef Hassan: Protests and strikes as Israel raids Bedouin villages, threatens to destroy homes (Electronic Intifada)
Yitzhak Laor: הווילה בג’ונגל / Wealth without borders (Haaretz) / Wealth without borders (via Google) / Wealth without borders (via DuckDuckGo)

The Israeli economy and all its elites were built up and exist via continuous “foreign aid.” Of the 46 donors to Benjamin Netanyahu before the Likud party primary, 37 were Americans. In these pages last week, Shlomo Avineri called on “organizations that fear for the fate of Israeli democracy, such as the Israel Democracy Institute,” to take up cudgels against this trend. (And where does the institute’s money come from?) …
But the outrage over the American donors derives from a hallucination: that our democratic institutions represent all citizens in exactly the same way the parliament in Stockholm represents the people ruled by the Swedish state. Alas, for 45 years, Israeli democracy has been ruling over an occupied population, which has no representation and is not entitled to determine any issue connected to its life.

Angela Davis: Jim Crow and the Palestinians (CounterPunch)
Oudeh Basharat: The original Morris (Haaretz) / The original Morris (via DuckDuckGo / Google News) / בני מוריס האמיתי (Haaretz)
Coby Ben-Simhon: Benny Morris on why he’s written his last word on the Israel-Arab conflict (Haaretz) / Benny Morris on why he’s written his last word on the Israel-Arab conflict (via Google News)

Assange | Spain | Syria | Greece | Canada | Korea | Israel

Phillip Adams, John Pilger: Extradition of Julian Assange (ABC)
Phillip Adams, Paul Preston: The Spanish Holocaust (ABC)

Syed Ali Wasef: ‘NATO behind Houla massacre’ (PressTV)

Mick Brooks: ‘Payback time’: Lagarde’s Myths (karlmarx.net)

Greece is a country divided, like Britain, the USA and France, along class lines. When asked about the cuts in public services that the IMF insists on imposing, [Lagarde] blames the Greek people, declaring repeatedly, “They should also help themselves, by all paying their tax.” Is that it? Is the problem just that all Greeks are tax dodgers?
Workers employed in a public or private sector workplace in Greece pay income tax automatically, just like British, American or French workers. They have no choice. It is deducted at source. When they buy goods in a shop, they pay the Value Added Tax (VAT). How can they not pay?
Greek millionaires do not pay tax. Instead they employ expensive accountants to dodge their obligations. This is very expensive for the Greek state. Because the rich don’t pay their share it also means that the resulting restricted budget spending imposes hardships upon poor Greeks, who are at the sharp end of cuts in public services.
This tax dodging by the rich is not a Greek characteristic. It is a characteristic of the rich and of big business.

Spain must avoid an Irish turn (Financial Times)

Martin Lukacs: Quebec’s ‘truncheon law’ rebounds as student strike spreads (Guardian)

Any group of 50 or more protesters must submit plans to police eight hours ahead of time; they can be denied the right to proceed. Picket lines at universities and colleges are forbidden, and illegal protests are punishable by fines from $5,000 to $125,000 for individuals and unions – as well as by the seizure of union dues and the dissolution of their associations.

Gabriel Nadeau-Dubois, Anna Kruzynski, Amy Goodman, Aaron Maté: Maple Spring: Nearly 1,000 Arrested as Mass Quebec Student Strike Passes 100th Day (Democracy Now)

Gavan McCormack: North Korea’s 100th – Celebrations Gone Awry (Japan Focus)
Gavan McCormack: North Korea’s 100th – To Celebrate or To Surrender? (Japan Focus) / 北朝鮮衛星発射にあたり、ガバン・マコーマック論考-朝鮮半島の問題を歴史的にとらえる必要性 (Peace Philosophy Center)
Rüdiger Frank: North Korea after Kim Jong Il: The Kim Jong Un era and its challenges (Japan Focus)

David Sheen: Proto-Pogrom Against Africans in Israel (storify.com)
Gideon Levy: Israel is the most naive and racist country in the West / סכנה יותר גדולה מהמהגרים (Haaretz)

Israel is both the most racist and most naive country in the West. Racist, because in no other country can politicians make remarks about migrants as they do here and still remain in office another day; naive, because only now has Israel discovered the problem that has been facing the “first world” for years.
ישראל היא המדינה הגזענית והתמימה ביותר במערב. גזענית כי בשום מדינה אחרת פוליטיקאים אינם יכולים להתבטא כך על מהגרים ולהמשיך עוד יום אחד בתפקידם; תמימה כי רק עכשיו היא מגלה את הבעיה העומדת זה שנים לפתחו של העולם הראשון.

Iran | Spain | Israel-Palestine | Syria | Honduras | Kissinger–Zhou

This article in the New Yorker unfortunately is behind a paywall:
Seymour M. Hersh: Iran and the Bomb: How real is the nuclear threat? (New Yorker)
Flynt Leverett, Hillary Mann Leverett: America’s on-again / off-again love affair with Iran’s nuclear programme (Race for Iran)

Manifesto; also in Castilan, Basque, Catalan, Asturian, Aragonese, Galician, German, French and Italian (¡Democracia Real YA!)

Barak Ravid: Secret cables show Israel’s battle plan over Palestinian UN bid | משרד החוץ לשגרירים: כך תמנעו הכרה בפלסטין באו”ם (Ha’aretz)

M. K. Bhadrakumar: Turkey’s not-so-subtle shift on Syria (Asia Times; version with links to sources at MRzine)

Mark Weisbrot: What Manuel Zelaya’s return means for Honduras (Guardian)

Winston Lord to Henry A. Kissinger: Memcon of your conversations with Chou En-lai (PDF; National Security Archive)