USA | Syria | Morocco | Thailand

An article by Yoav from Haifa:
Yoav Haifawi: Sorry America, It is not YOU, it is US (*) … (Free Haifa)

The coming elections in the US supplied an extraordinary drama, watched with both trump-vs-clintonenthusiasm and disdain almost all over the world. If this is the most important democratic election for the most influential leadership position in the world, the scarcity of the debate about the real issues at stake must make people ask substantial questions about democracy. The identity and performance of the candidates, especially Republican Donald Trump, and the fact that an enormous establishment, with millions of people and billions of dollars, couldn’t produce a more respectable candidate, must raise even more substantial soul searching questions about the human nature.

A few more:
Jeffrey St. Clair: The Cataclysm: Notes on Election Day and the Politics of Hubris (CounterPunch)

Of course, the System adapts and absorbs. That’s the malign genius of late-capitalism. The elites prefer Hillary, but will warp the unruly Trump to their purposes. Trump is a narcissist, not an ideologue. The system fosters and feeds on narcissism…
Hillary Clinton has completely rejected even the pretense of class-oriented politics, in favor of targeting discrete demographics of voters, sending coded messages through the color and cut of her pantsuits to suburban women in Philly suburbs and insurance brokers in Tallahassee. This is the politics of identity, where your working conditions are less important than where you shop and what you buy. There is no unifying message to her campaign. Instead there are thousands of messages, each individually tailored and targeted like those stalker ads on Google and Amazons. It’s politics by algorithm.
Meanwhile, Trump’s blue-collar voters are condemned by the liberal elites as neo-Nazis and Klan-like automatons. Over the last few weeks, MSDNC has devoted much attention to the imbecilic David Duke’s attempt to ride Trump’s coat-tails. Duke is polling at less than 5 percent among Republicans in his vainglorious run for the Senate in Louisiana. What about the Trump voters who reject Duke’s racist bilge? How do the Democrats explain them? They don’t even try. The American underclass, both black and white, those marginalized by globalization and a government that works only to further enrich the rich, are viewed by the Democrats’ leader as a collection of “deplorables” and “super-predators.”

James Luchte: Trump vs. the National Security Establishment: Will There be a Revolution in US Foreign Policy? (CounterPunch)

Since the beginning of his presidential campaign, Trump had been savaged by the National Security establishment, castigated as unfit to lead, dangerous, incompetent, and ignorant. These criticisms were woven together in an August 8 letter signed by fifty former National Security officers, denouncing a possible Trump presidency…
Putting aside these castigations, Trump’s most egregious national security faux pas is his contestation of the Russophobic paradigm that has dominated US foreign policy since the end of WWII and the establishment of the National Security Act of 1947. Trump’s contestation further amplifies his purported hubris to even raise the question of NATO – and his contemplation of the end of the seven decade US occupation of Europe (“We cannot afford it”). Such perspectives fly in the face of the entire history of the National Security establishment, which, since the founding of the National Security Council (NSC), has sought to contain its former allies (Russia, and then, China) and maintain US hegemony on the European continent.

Gary Leupp: Standing Rock and Imperialism Itself (CounterPunch)

The Dakota Access Pipeline was originally scheduled to cross the state of North Dakota north of Bismarck, the state capital (pop. 70,000). But then the route was shifted 40 miles south, to the south, to pass by the Standing Rock Sioux reservation (pop. 8200). This is sovereign territory of the Sioux, whose reservation straddles North and South Dakota and whose members include Hunkpapa Lakota (Húŋkpapȟa) and Yaktonai Dakota (Iháŋktȟuŋwaŋna).
The Sioux are a nation of about 170,000 people, divided linguistically into the Lakotas, Dakotas and Nakotas concentrated in what are now North and South Dakota…
The Standing Rock Reservation’s boundaries are defined by the Fort Laramie Treaty (or Horse Creek Treaty) of 1851, which exchanged Sioux recognition of “the right of the United States Government to establish roads, military and other posts, within their respective territories” on their territory for a U.S. commitment “to protect the aforesaid Indian nations against the commission of all depredations by the people of the said United States, after the ratification of this treaty.” They are confirmed by another treaty signed in 1868…
Back to the Dakota Access Pipeline. According to the Bismarck Tribune, the route was changed due to concern that the DAPL, built by Sunoco and projected to send 500,000 gallons of oil every day from North Dakota to Illinois, would endanger the water supply to the city’s residents.
(These by the way are 92% white, 4% Native American, 4% other…) …
The water issue is the first issue (of two) raised by those protesting the DAPL raise. The Missouri River that constitutes the reservation border is the people’s only source of water. (Specifically, Lake Oahe, which is a large swelling within the river straddling the two Dakotas.) It is at present quite pure. The pipeline will flow beneath it. The Army Corps of Engineers has assessed that it will pose no threat to the water, but the people point to reports that pipelines leak. The Standing Rock Sioux are arguing in court that the pipeline directly violates the tribe’s rights as a sovereign nation because it will hurt its drinking water resources…
The second issue is that of sacred burial sites. This might seem less important, especially to the irreligious outsider. But the ongoing protest observances conducted by representatives of many tribes in North Dakota involve many religious practices related to identity: sacred songs and dancing, prayers, peace pipes, sweat lodge meetings, water protection rituals. They believe strongly in the appropriate handling of the burial grounds…
But the main reason for opposition is not water purity, nor even respect for one’s ancestors, but the Sioux tribes’ aspirations for sovereignty, on land assigned them by violated treaties, as they come up against capitalist imperialism itself.

Miriyam Aouragh, Amy Goodman: Morocco: Massive Protests Against Neoliberalism, Privatization Follow Death of Fish Seller (Democracy Now)

In Morocco, thousands of people have been protesting across the country after a fish seller was crushed to death in a garbage truck trying to retrieve fish confiscated by police. Video circulating online appears to show Mouhcine Fikri jumping into the back of the truck to rescue his swordfish, before being crushed to death by its compactor. According to local reports, Moroccan authorities prohibit the sale of swordfish at this time of year. Activists have accused police officers of ordering garbage men to crush Fikri. His death in the northern town of Al Hoceima has elicited widespread anger on social media. The weekend’s rallies were called by activists from the February 20 movement, which organized demonstrations during the Arab unrest of 2011. Fikri’s death drew parallels to that of Tunisian fruit seller Mohamed Bouazizi in 2010 whose death sparked the Arab Spring uprisings.

Aida Alami: Morocco’s Al-Hoceima protests reflect ‘a heavy legacy’ (AlJazeera)

Located in the north of Morocco, the Rif region has always had a complicated history with the monarchy, marked by a violent rebellion in the late 1950s that attempted to get its independence from the rest of Morocco.
The Rif region, from where one of the most emblematic Moroccan leaders, Abdelkarim Khettabi, hails, has always been difficult to tame. In 1958, Hassan II, who was the 29-year-old crown prince at the time, crushed a rebellion by the Rifian Berbers in the north and severely punished leaders of the upheaval. During his reign, he neglected the region in terms of economic developments, leaving it lacking in infrastructure and access to services available in the rest of the kingdom. When Mohammed VI became king in 1999, one of his major projects was to open up the region, and many tourism and development projects were subsequently launched.
“The Rif has been structurally and symbolically severed from the rest of other regions in Morocco,” said Abdeslam Maghraoui, a Duke University political scientist and North Africa expert. “Language, geography, and the quest for some political autonomy has a lot to do with it.”
Maghraoui described King Hassan’s policies towards the Rif as neglectful, if not hostile.
“King Mohammed VI’s more personal and conciliatory touch didn’t change the deep structural problems. Today’s tensions reflect this heavy legacy.”

Morocco arrests 11 over fish-seller’s death in Al-Hoceima (BBC)
Greg Dunkel: Moroccan protests shake U.S. ally (Workers World)

According to Forbes magazine, King Mohammed VI of Morocco is the richest man in North Africa. He has control over and profits from phosphates, Morocco’s most profitable export, as well as the fishing industry.
Morocco’s main trading and diplomatic partners are France and Spain, its former colonial masters…

Robert Fisk: A view of the Syrian war from the Golan Heights (Independent)

One Syrian lieutenant described to me how he directed his artillery fire onto an Israeli jeep in the Jabhat al-Nusra occupied town of Al-Hamidiya inside Syria and destroyed it. The jeep might have been a gift or borrowed from Israel

Stephen Wright: Thai monarchy’s billions come from real estate, companies (AP)

Thailand’s king, who died Thursday, was reputed to be the world’s richest royal and one of the wealthiest people on the planet.
It was a status that clashed with the carefully managed image of a monarch intensely concerned for his people’s welfare and one that Thai authorities were always anxious to correct…
In 2011, American rich-list publisher Forbes tallied up the holdings of the Crown Property Bureau that answers to the Thai monarch and estimated Bhumibol’s wealth at more than $30 billion.

Thomas F. Rhoden: Death of a monarch or an oligarch? (New Mandala)

Thailand’s structure of oligarchy has also not changed recently. By constructing a specific Material Power Index (MPI) for Thailand and then comparing it to MPIs for other national states in East and Southeast Asia where data is available, Thailand’s top 50 wealthiest have an averaged MPI which is higher than that found in China, in Singapore, in Japan, in Indonesia, in Malaysia, in the Philippines and so on. Even if one were to exclude the monarch’s wealth from this averaged MPI calculation for Thailand, the country still comes out on top.
The following is simply an empirical fact: Thailand is the most oligarchic polity by this measure for this region of the world.

Lee Jones: The myth of King Bhumibol (New Mandala)

[S]uccessive military regimes built up a virtual personality cult around Bhumibol through the Cold War, establishing his image as a paternalistic sponsor of development projects, caring for his poor people. This massive propaganda effort – coupled with extensive state repression – turned a country that had considered abolishing the monarchy in the 1930s into one that largely worshipped its king…
In service of the anti-communist ruling elite, after 1973, Bhumibol sponsored right-wing paramilitaries terrorising leftist youths, culminating in the 1976 Thammasat massacre. Later, under Prime Minister Thaksin Shinawatra, Bhumibol publicly backed the ‘war on drugs’, in which over 2,500 people were extra-judicially killed. Then in 2006, a military junta overthrew Thaksin, promptly gaining the king’s endorsement of their coup. By the time of the latest military coup, in 2014, Bhumibol was arguably non compos mentis, but he was again wheeled out to sanctify the destruction of democracy.
So King Bhumibol was never a consistent supporter of democracy or even basic human rights.

David Streckfuss: Thailand’s peculiar interregnum (New Mandala)
Pavin Chachavalpongpun (ปวิน ชัชวาลพงศ์พันธ์ [pawin tɕʰáttɕʰáwapʰoŋpʰan]): A crown prince and German affairs (New Mandala)

Thailand | Brexit | Ethiopia | Israel/Palestine

Giles Ji Ungpakorn (ใจ อึ๊งภากรณ์ [tɕaj ʔɯ́ŋpʰaːkɔːn]): King Pumipon (Bhumibol) of Thailand (Uglytruth Thailand)

King Pumipon (p̣hūmiphala ภูมิพลอดุลยเดช [pʰuːmípʰon]) of Thailand was a weak and characterless monarch who spent his useless and privileged life in a bubble, surrounded by fawning, grovelling, toadies who claimed that he was a “god”… His life’s work was in self-enrichment, support for military regimes and the defence of inequality. He played a significant role in preventing democratic rights, the development of social justice and the fair and unbiased use of the law. He did this by legitimising all the worst government policies and atrocities committed by Thai rulers. In recent years he remained silent while more and more dissidents were jailed, under the draconian lèse majesté law, for merely speaking out against the destruction of democracy.

Giles Ji Ungpakorn: Wachiralongkorn should not be the future king. Thailand should be a republic (Uglytruth Thailand)
Thailand’s heir apparent Maha Vajiralongkorn raises fears – and eyebrows (Guardian)

Thailand’s Crown Prince Maha Vajiralongkorn (มหาวชิราลงกรณ [máhǎː wáʨʰíraːloŋkɔːn]), a three-times divorced playboy who made his pet poodle an air chief marshal in the Thai military, poses perhaps the biggest challenge for both the country’s monarchists and its ruling junta in coming weeks, following the death of his father, King Bhumibol Adulyadej.

AFP: Who is Thailand’s 96-year-old regent? (Asia Times)

Former general and prime minister Prem Tinsulanonda (เปรม ติณสูลานนท์ [preːm tinnásǔːlaːnon]) … stormed up the army ranks during the Cold War and was promoted above his seniors to army chief in 1978.
Two years later, he assumed power in what was widely viewed as a silent coup endorsed by the king and queen…
Prem later led the Privy Council of late King Bhumibol Adulyadej — who died last Thursday after a 70-year reign — making him the monarch’s closest adviser and gatekeeper…
Both as prime minister in the 1980s and later as head of the Privy Council, Prem cemented the military’s self-designated role as protector of the monarchy through his remarkable relationship with Bhumibol.
“He was able to make the military into a mechanism for the monarchy but keep the military as a powerful institution in Thai politics,” Paul Chambers, an expert on Thailand’s military, told AFP…
Since the end of absolute monarchy in 1932, Thailand has seen 12 successful military coups.
Prem has instigated or had a hand in five of them, said Chambers.
The most recent came in 2014, toppling the democratically elected government of Yingluck Shinawatra, sister of telecoms billionaire and former prime minister Thaksin Shinawatra who was himself ousted in a 2006 coup.

Alison Smale, Thomas Fuller: Thailand Looks to Likely Future King With Apprehension (New York Times)
Reuters: Thai royal defamation cases jump since king’s death (Asia Times)

Prime Minister Prayuth Chan-ocha has moved quickly to quash any uncertainty around the royal succession, saying Crown Prince Maha Vajiralongkorn would ascend the throne after a period of mourning that he had requested.
Insulting the monarch, the regent or the heir, known by the French-language term “lèse-majesté”, is a crime in Thailand that carries a jail sentence of up to 15 years for each case.
Police spokesman Kitsana Pattanacharoen said there had been 12 lèse-majesté cases since last Thursday, with arrest warrants issued for eight suspects and four already in police custody.
“Their crime was posting messages or pictures which insulted the monarchy on social media,” he told Reuters.
There were 70 cases in the two-and-a-half years from a May 2014 coup up to last Thursday, said Weerawat Somnuek, a researcher at Thai legal monitoring group iLaw.

Colombia referendum: Voters reject Farc peace deal (BBC)

Voters in Colombia have rejected a landmark peace deal with Farc rebels in a shock referendum result, with 50.2% voting against it.
The deal was signed last week by President Juan Manuel Santos and Farc leader Timoleon Jimenez after nearly four years of negotiations.

Mona Mahmood and Emma Graham-Harrison: Mosul civilians brace for assault as Iraq forces bid to retake Isis stronghold (Guardian)

Hundreds of thousands of civilians are bracing themselves for the start of an Iraqi army campaign to retake Mosul from Isis, which they fear will bring “the whole world” to fight over their city.
Militants have banned civilians from leaving the city, and have set up checkpoints on roads out and blown up the homes of those who do flee as punishment and to deter others.

Patrick Cockburn: This Battle for Mosul Will Not Be the Last (CounterPunch)

The Iraqi government and its allies may eventually capture Mosul from Isis, but this could be just a new chapter in the war.
It will only win because of the devastating firepower of the US-led air forces and sheer weight of numbers. But the fight for the city is militarily and politically complex. The Iraqi army, Kurdish Peshmerga, Shia Hashd al-Shaabi and Sunni fighters from Mosul and Nineveh province, which make up the anti-Isis forces, suspect and fear each other almost as much as they hate Isis.

Tallha Abdulrazaq: Mosul will fall again, but at great cost (AlJazeera)

The battle for Mosul will be long and the city’s remaining 1.5 million civilians will bear the brunt.

Robert Fisk: After Mosul Falls, ISIS will Flee to Syria. Then What? (CounterPunch)

Syria’s army and Hezbollah and Iranian allies are preparing for a massive invasion by thousands of Isis fighters who will be driven out of Iraq when Mosul falls. The real purpose behind the much-trumpeted US-planned “liberation” of the Iraqi city, the Syrian military suspect, is to swamp Syria with the hordes of Isis fighters who will flee their Iraqi capital in favour of their “mini-capital” of Raqqa inside Syria itself.

Gary Leupp: An Urgently Necessary Briefing on Syria (CounterPunch)

Thomas Mountain: Revolutionary Islam and Regime Change in Ethiopia (CounterPunch)

With ethnic uprisings spreading across an Ethiopia now ruled by martial law there is only one nationally based organization in place to lead the eventual regime change in the country and that is the revolutionary Islamic movement.
Presently all the liberation resistance movements in Ethiopia are ethnically based with their senior leadership in exile, mainly in neighboring Eritrea. The only organization with a national presence is the revolutionary Islamic religious community, whose recently freed leaders have sworn to liberate Ethiopia from the western backed Tigrayan ethnic minority regime presently ruling the country.

Samir Amin: Brexit and the EU Implosion: National Sovereignty—For What Purpose? (Monthly Review)

The defense of national sovereignty, like its critique, leads to serious misunderstandings once one detaches it from the social class content of the strategy in which it is embedded. The leading social bloc in capitalist societies always conceives sovereignty as a necessary instrument for the promotion of its own interests based on both capitalist exploitation of labor and the consolidation of its international positions.

Chris Welzenbach: The Dreadful Chronology of Gaddafi’s Murder (CounterPunch)

Gideon Levy: Peace Is Justice, and Justice Doesn’t Need a Partner (Haaretz, behind pay wall; also via Google News) / אין פרטנר (Haaretz; also via Google News)

Israel is not in a position to demand a partner in order to end the occupation. It must end the occupation. It has no right to make demands before doing so.

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)

Thailand | Russia | India | Israel/Palestine | Austria

Pravit Rojanaphruk (pràwít rôːtnóprɤ̂ːk ประวิตร โรจนพฤกษ์): Beware of those who see the need for Article 44 (Nation)

The irony of the current political situation is that while the junta-appointed chairman of the Constitution Drafting Committee, Borwornsak Uwanno (bɔːwɔːnsàk ʔùwannoː บวรศักดิ์ อุวรรณโณ), is busy promoting the new charter and its numerous built-in checks and balances, junta leader and Prime Minister General Prayut Chan-o-cha (pràjút tɕan ʔoːtɕʰaː ประยุทธ์ จันทร์โอชา) is seriously considering anointing himself with unchecked absolute power under Article 44 of the provisional charter…
Article 44 of the junta’s provisional charter basically gives absolute power to the head of the National Council for Peace and Order (NCPO), which is Prayut. He can override the three branches of power – the executive, which Prayut already heads, the legislative, the members of which Prayut appointed, and the judiciary…
He can even order you or me to be summarily executed as Field Marshal Sarit Thanarat (sàrít tʰánárát สฤษดิ์ ธนะรัชต์) did with a similar law back in the 1960s.

AP: Thai PM’s plan to lift martial law with ‘dictator’ ruling sparks concerns (Guardian)

Thailand’s military-installed prime minister has said he plans to lift martial law 10 months after staging a coup, but will invoke a special security measure that critics say is more draconian…
Thai media have referred to Article 44 as “the dictator law”. Under a similar law in the 1960s, a Thai dictator carried out summary executions.
The measure gives Prayuth power over all aspects of government, law and order, and absolves him of any legal responsibility for his actions…
Prayuth sought to downplay the concerns, telling reporters he would use Article 44 “constructively” to solve security issues.
“Don’t worry,” he told reporters after a cabinet meeting. “If you’re not doing anything wrong, there’s no need to be afraid.”

Reuters: We’ll probably kill journalists who don’t report the truth, says Thai leader (Guardian)
Abigail Haworth: Bangkok’s Big Brother is watching you (Guardian)

Artem Kirpichenok: Russia: Nemtsov – A Symbol of the Right / Немцов: Символ правых сил (Ліва)

Mainstream media have presented Boris Nemtsov as an anti-Putin “liberal” oppositionist. In reality he was part of the oligarchy that began to emerge after the collapse of the Soviet Union, but had fallen out of grace with the main clique that took over.

Abdul Jadid: Mahatma Gandhi was first corporate sponsored NGO of the country: Arundhati Roy (Hindustan Times)

Booker prize winning writer Arundhati Roy (Arundhatī Rāẏ অরুন্ধতী রায়) stirred a controversy on Saturday when she called Mahatma Gandhi as the ‘first corporate sponsored NGO of this country.’ She even went a step further and added ‘it was one of the greatest falsehood in this country to worship him (Gandhi) who wrote horrible things about Dalit, women and poor.’ …
The writer lashed at the ‘corporate controlled system of the country,’ saying that the nation was not run by prime minister Narendra Modi but rather by big corporate honchos like Ambanis, Tatas among others. Terming the corporates as ‘baniyas,’ she said they controlled everything right from big media houses to small companies manufacturing commodities like salt, cosmetics among other things…
Quoting Baba Bheemrao Ambedkar that caste and capitalism were the biggest enemy of the society, the writer said that these two were the biggest concern for the country having a divisive society. Raising question over the motive of Ford and Rockefeller Foundation, which has been set up to strengthen democratic values and to fight for human values, the writer said the main objective of the two were to turn the world into a ‘safe place for the propagation of capitalism.’

Ilan Pappe: The messages from Israel’s election (Electronic Intifada)

Those of us who know the nature of the beast could not have been surprised by the results of the Israeli election.
Like many of my friends, I was also relieved that a liberal Zionist government was not elected. It would have allowed the charade of the “peace process” and the illusion of the two-state solution to linger on while the suffering of the Palestinians continues.
As always Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu himself provided the inevitable conclusion when he declared the end of the two-state solution — inviting us all to the long overdue funeral of an ill-conceived idea that provided Israel with international immunity for its colonialist project in Palestine.
The power of the charade was on show when the world and local pundits unrealistically predicted a victory for liberal Zionism, an Israeli ideological trend that is near extinction — embodied by the Zionist Union list headed by Isaac Herzog and Tzipi Livni…
The conclusion for the international community should be clear now. Only decolonization of the settler state can lead to reconciliation. And the only way to kick off this decolonization is by employing the same means exercised against the other long-standing settler state of the twentieth century: apartheid South Africa.
The option of BDS — boycott, divestment and sanctions — has never looked more valid than it does today. Hopefully this, together with popular resistance on the ground, will entice at least some of the second and third generation of the Jewish settler-colonial society to help stop the Zionist colonization project.

Mairav Zonszein: Israel killed more Palestinians in 2014 than in any other year since 1967 (Guardian)

Israel killed more Palestinian civilians in 2014 than in any other year since the occupation of the West Bank and Gaza Strip began in 1967, a UN report has said.
Israel’s activities in the Gaza Strip, West Bank and East Jerusalem resulted in the deaths of 2,314 Palestinians and 17,125 injuries, compared with 39 deaths and 3,964 injuries in 2013, according to the annual report (…) by the UN Office for the Co-ordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA).

Israel, US boycott UN human rights inquiry on Gaza, West Bank (Deutsche Welle)
Separation policy in Hebron (B’Tselem)

In January 2015, B’Tselem learned that the Israeli military had renewed segregation on the main street of the neighborhood of a-Salaimeh, Hebron, which leads to the Tomb of the Patriarchs. The military does not allow Palestinians to use the main, paved, part of the street and directs them to use a narrow, unpaved and rough pedestrian passageway.
This segregation had been previously implemented from September 2012 to March 2013. It was discontinued as a result of a short video published by B’Tselem, which showed Border Police officers explaining that the main part of the street was for Jews only. After the video circulated widely and received much media coverage, the military withdrew the policy and allowed free passage to residents, until recently.

Reuters: 14-year-old boy charged with terror offences in Austria (Guardian)

Austria has charged a 14-year-old boy with terror offences after he researched how to build a bomb online and made contact with militants supporting Islamic State fighters in Syria, prosecutors have said.

Greece | Korea | Ukraine | Thailand | Israel

Yanis Varoufakis: No Time for Games in Europe (New York Times, also via Google News)

The great difference between this government and previous Greek governments is twofold: We are determined to clash with mighty vested interests in order to reboot Greece and gain our partners’ trust. We are also determined not to be treated as a debt colony that should suffer what it must. The principle of the greatest austerity for the most depressed economy would be quaint if it did not cause so much unnecessary suffering.
I am often asked: What if the only way you can secure funding is to cross your red lines and accept measures that you consider to be part of the problem, rather than of its solution? Faithful to the principle that I have no right to bluff, my answer is: The lines that we have presented as red will not be crossed. Otherwise, they would not be truly red, but merely a bluff…
We shall desist, whatever the consequences, from deals that are wrong for Greece and wrong for Europe. The “extend and pretend” game that began after Greece’s public debt became unserviceable in 2010 will end. No more loans — not until we have a credible plan for growing the economy in order to repay those loans, help the middle class get back on its feet and address the hideous humanitarian crisis. No more “reform” programs that target poor pensioners and family-owned pharmacies while leaving large-scale corruption untouched.

Helena Smith: Tsipras favours Greek jobless over creditors in defiant policy speech (Guardian)

The Greek prime minister, Alexis Tsipras, has announced his anti-austerity government programme in a defiant address that prioritised the jobless and destitute over international creditors who have lent the country more than $300bn (£200bn).

Paul Mason: Germany v Greece is a fight to the death, a cultural and economic clash of wills (Guardian)

Germany’s unwillingness to lead Europe is the old problem. The new problem is Germany’s demonstrable willingness to break up Europe. Pleas for the continent’s largest economy to expand state spending are met with the schwarze null policy: 0% budget deficits, imposed by law. Brazen acts of proxy warfare by the Kremlin are met with diplomatic dithering. The sight, on top of that, of large anti-Muslim demonstrations in this, the richest and most politically stable country in Europe, is now reviving hostility towards Germany way beyond Greece.

Jennifer Rankin, Larry Elliott: Greece bailout talks break down after Athens rejects ‘unacceptable’ eurozone demands (Guardian)

Talks between Greece and its eurozone creditors collapsed in disarray on Monday night, heightening concerns that the country is edging closer to a disruptive exit from the single currency…
Effectively presenting Greece with an ultimatum, the eurogroup of eurozone finance ministers said Athens had until Friday to agree to maintain the current bailout under the auspices of the European Union, the European Central Bank and the International Monetary Fund – something that Greece has said is unacceptable.

Would Park be President, had the election not been rigged? (Hankyoreh)

An appeals court’s ruling about election interference by the National Intelligence Service (NIS) provides judicial confirmation that there is a major problem with Park Geun-hye legitimacy as president of South Korea. This makes it clear that the 2012 presidential election was a rigged game and that Park was the greatest beneficiary…
Any politician – not to mention the leader of a country – must take responsibility for his or her words. Park should begin by apologizing for remarks she has made, such as when she belittled the case as a plot by the political opposition and denied that she had received any help from the NIS.
But Park’s remarks are not the only mistake that she made. The current administration pulled out all the stops to cover up the NIS’s assault on the constitution and to block all attempts to investigate that assault.

Kim Seon-sik: Former NIS director sentenced to prison for 2012 political interference (Hankyoreh)

Former National Intelligence Service director Won Sei-hoon, 64, was taken into court custody after an appeals ruling found him guilty of violating the Public Official Election Act by ordering agents from the psychological warfare division to carry out organized interference in the 2012 presidential election.
The court’s decision, which acknowledges Won’s enlistment of the NIS to influence the election results, is expected to have major political repercussions.

Michael Hudson: Ukraine Denouement (CounterPunch)

The fate of Ukraine is now shifting from the military battlefield back to the arena that counts most: that of international finance. Kiev is broke, having depleted its foreign reserves on waging war that has destroyed its industrial export and coal mining capacity in the Donbass (especially vis-à-vis Russia, which normally has bought 38 percent of Ukraine’s exports). Deeply in debt (with €3 billion falling due on December 20 to Russia), Ukraine faces insolvency if the IMF and Europe do not release new loans next month to pay for new imports as well as Russian and foreign bondholders.
Finance Minister Natalia Yaresko announced on Friday that she hopes to see the money begin to flow in by early March. But Ukraine must meet conditions that seem almost impossible: It must implement an honest budget and start reforming its corrupt oligarchs (who dominate in the Rada and control the bureaucracy), implement more austerity, abolish its environmental protection, and make its industry “attractive” to foreign investors to buy Ukraine’s land, natural resources, monopolies and other assets, presumably at distress prices in view of the country’s recent devastation.

Matthew Weaver, Alec Luhn: Ukraine ceasefire deal agreed at Minsk talks (Guardian)

Russian president Vladimir Putin was the first to announce the deal, saying: “We have agreed on a ceasefire from midnight 15 February.”
Putin added: “There is also the political settlement. The first thing is constitutional reform that should take into consideration the legitimate rights of people who live in Donbass. There are also border issues. Finally there are a whole range of economic and humanitarian issues.”

Simon Tisdall: Ukraine peace deal looks fragile in the extreme (Guardian)

Poroshenko insisted the accord did not grant autonomy to the rebel-held areas. The vexed questions of the extent of a demilitarised zone around the current and September frontlines, and the withdrawal of foreign (ie Russian) forces, were also apparently still up in the air. Nor did the Ukraine leader confirm Putin’s claim that Kiev had agreed to end its economic blockade of the Donbas region…
Perhaps not coincidentally, the Minsk announcements coincided with news that the IMF has agreed to help bail out almost bankrupt Ukraine to the tune of $17.5bn, part of an even bigger $40bn, four-year rescue package. Christine Lagarde, IMF chief, said the idea was to try and stabilise Kiev’s finances after nearly a year of war.

Freudian slip? CNN says Obama considers arming pro-US troops…in Ukraine (RT)

Social media is abuzz after CNN labeled Ukrainian forces involved in Kiev’s deadly military operation in the country’s southeast as “pro-US troops.” Online comments are calling it a Freudian slip, claiming it unmasks the true agenda behind the conflict.

Reuters: Thailand’s students defy military junta and call for return to democracy (Guardian)

Thai student protesters billing themselves as the “last group standing” in seeking to end military rule say they will openly defy what one leader called a tyrannical regime nine months after the army seized power.
Members of the Thai Student Centre for Democracy (TSCD), who come from different political and socio-economic backgrounds, present a quandary for the junta, which has branded public protests illegal but wants to maintain its core support, including from Bangkok’s middle class and business elite.
Some of the students support the “red shirt” grassroots movement of ousted prime minister Yingluck Shinawatra, but others sympathise with the establishment that makes up the bulk of the junta’s support.

Student group condemns junta for trying student activist in military court (Prachatai)
AP: Thailand’s military junta forces cancellation of press freedom conference (Guardian)

The Zionist Union is the poor man’s Likud (Haaretz)

Anyone wishing to replace this government must first of all take a strong stand against the transformation of Israel into an apartheid state.
The election campaign waged by the Zionist Union belies the declarations of its leaders, Yitzhak Herzog and Tzipi Livni, who state their wish to replace the current government. The slogan “It’s us or him” was recently changed to “Only a sucker would vote for Netanyahu,” but the essential message remains unchanged: the problem with the Likud government lies in Benjamin Netanyahu’s personality, not in his destructive policies.
Livni and Herzog are marketing themselves as people who will do a better job than Netanyahu in carrying out the foreign and defense policies of the Likud, covered in a patina of empty promises such as “we’ll return money to the public” or “free land for an apartment of your own.”

Israel’s ban of Arab lawmaker from election is unjust / ההבדל בין זועבי למרזל (Haaretz, Hebrew version also via Google News)

Zoabi’s disqualification lacks all foundation. An Arab MK has fallen victim to a clause permitting the banning of a candidate or party expressing support for an enemy state or a terror group’s armed struggle. Actually, the clause was inserted to persecute Arab elected officials who express support for the Palestinian struggle against the occupation.
It’s no coincidence that the clause does not permit the disqualification of someone who has expressed support for other types of violence; for example, terror against Arabs. Regarding Zoabi’s infuriating remarks, even in the interview in which she refused to call the kidnappers of three Jewish teens terrorists, Zoabi noted that she did not support their actions. And she has expanded on her position many times since.

Gideon Levy: The most heinous crime in Israel is anti-Zionism / פשע ושמו אנטי־ציונות (Haaretz; Hebrew version also via Google News)

In today’s Israel, in which “leftist” is among the worst things to call someone, “non-Zionist” is entirely beyond the pale. Not that anyone knows what Zionism is today, but to say non-Zionist is to say treason. A land-stealing, field-burning settler is a Zionist, no question; one of the best. Even if he commits one of the most serious sins and calls for draft-dodging, he is still a Zionist.
Knesset member Haneen Zoabi (Balad) is a traitor, because she does not recognize Israel as a Jewish state. (The rightists who don’t recognize Israel as a democratic state are, of course, Zionist and therefore legitimate.) Israelis who are not willing to be part of that Zionism and are courageous enough to call themselves anti-Zionists are considered heretics, with everything that implies. They have horns. It as if saying no to that Zionism – to think that it constitutes ultranationalism and even racism; that it plunders, conquers and is hurtling toward apartheid – is an immoral, intolerable position to take.
The brainwashing has reached the point that anyone with the disease is thought not only to oppose the very existence of the state, but even to be calling for its destruction.

Blake Alcott: Why Jonathan Freedland Isn’t Fit to be the New Editor-in-Chief of the Guardian (CounterPunch)

Palestine | Libya | Ukraine | Thailand

Harriet Sherwoo,d Hazem Balousha: The world stands disgraced’ – Israeli shelling of school kills at least 15 (Guardian)
Yousef Al-Helou: World watches idly as Israel bombs Gaza school and market (Electronic Intifada)
Penelope Cruz, Javier Bardem, Pedro Almodovar denounce Israel’s ‘genocide’ in Gaza (Haaretz)

Dozens of stars from Spain’s cultural scene have added their names to an open letter blasting Israel’s Gaza operation, and denouncing Israel’s actions as “genocide.”
In the letter, which was published on Monday, Oscar-winners Javier Bardem and Penelope Cruz, and the feted Spanish director Pedro Almodovar, were joined by a long list of names, in calling for the European Union to condemn “the bombing by land, sea and air against the Palestinian civilian population in the Gaza Strip.”

Bardem und Cruz werfen Israel “Völkermord” vor (Spiegel)
Malte Daniljuk: Internationale Künstler fordern Handeln gegen “Völkermord” in Gaza (amerika21)
Here’s the predictable reaction:
Shmuley Boeteach: Penelope Cruz and Javier Bardem are anti-Semites (Jerusalem Post)

Attempts to stifle internal dissent:
Lahav Harkov: Ethics Committee bans Zoabi from Knesset for six months (Jerusalem Post)

[A] Knesset Channel poll found that 89 percent of Jewish Israelis think Zoabi’s citizenship should be revoked, while 10% oppose such a move.

Lahav Harkov: Gal-On slams Zoabi suspension from Knesset as ‘draconian’ (Jerusalem Post)

Meretz chairwoman Zehava Gal-On said the Ethics Committee was behaving outrageously.
“Should a committee that is supposed to guard the rights of the minority be allowed to suspend someone for half a year? Is that not draconian? Are you crazy? That is silencing the opposition,” she complained.

MK Liberman: Zoabi Should Be Kicked Out of Israel (Arutz Sheva)

Foreign Minister, Avigdor Liberman, responded on his Facebook page to the announcement that MK Hanin Zoabi was suspended from the Knesset for the next six months.
“It is not enough to distance Hanin Zoabi from the Knesset for half a year; she should be deported from Israel to Qatar, and join the ranks of the other traitor from her party, Azzami Bashara, who already fled to the region.”

Aeyal Gross: With Zoabi’s suspension, Knesset moves toward fascism (Haaretz)

Attorney General Yehuda Weinstein decided not to open criminal proceedings against MK Haneen Zoabi (Balad) for saying that the kidnappers of Eyal Yifrah, Gilad Shaar and Naftali Fraenkel weren’t terrorists. Weinstein noted that in that same interview she voiced her objection to the kidnapping, creating a “real doubt” about whether her statement broke the law; moreover, he said, indictments that restrict speech should be rare. But he added that his decision dealt only with the criminal aspects, and not the administrative or ethical ones…
Knesset members believe there’s only one permissible view of what constitutes the good of the state, and not only does the majority determine what it is, but it also tries to prevent anyone with a different view from expressing it…
One can disagree with Zoabi’s statement, but it was legal. Since she didn’t voice support for the abduction, she wasn’t supporting terror. Nor did another statement cited by the committee, one in favor of “popular resistance,” constitute a call for violence; as Zoabi has stressed repeatedly, it’s a call for nonviolent resistance…
The last Knesset also stripped Zoabi of some of her parliamentary privileges, including her diplomatic passport…
The committee was used to delegitimize certain views, while not imposing sanctions on other MKs who made offensive statements – like Avigdor Lieberman, who called for boycotting Arab businesses, or Miri Regev, who called asylum seekers a “cancer.” The severity of the punishment also bolsters this contention. When former MK Menachem Porush termed Justice Mishael Cheshin “a pig,” the committee made do with a reprimand, and when former MK Aryeh Eldad said that anyone who cedes territory deserves death, he was suspended for just one day.

Or Kashti: Israeli university rebukes professor who expressed sympathy for both Israeli, Gazan victims (Haaretz)

Bar Ilan University students, faculty and administrators are up in arms over a law professor’s email to his students that opened with an expression of sympathy for all victims of the Israel-Gaza war, implicitly reminding them that the overwhelming majority of those victims are Gazans.
Prof. Hanoch Sheinman’s email was sent to reassure his second-year law students that because the security situation had disrupted many students’ routines, there would be an additional date scheduled for his course’s final exam. Sheinman opened the email, however, by saying that he hoped the message “finds you in a safe place, and that you, your families and those dear to you are not among the hundreds of people that were killed, the thousands wounded, or the tens of thousands whose homes were destroyed or were forced to leave their homes during, or as a direct result of, the violent confrontation in the Gaza Strip and its environs.”

Bar-Ilan University’s McCarthyist values (Haaretz)

The McCarthyism spreading in Israel over the past few weeks is now starting to eat away at the country’s academic institutions. A brief preface to a technical announcement sent to students by a law professor at Bar-Ilan University set off a public storm, a demand for an apology and a condemnation by the university.

Aron Dónzis: Academic rebuked for expressing sympathy for Gaza victims (Times of Israel)
Pierre Heumann: Die Angst der Intellektuellen (Handelsblatt)
More articles:
Blog post advocating ‘Gaza genocide’ removed from Times of Israel website (Haaretz)

The Times of Israel and the 5 Towns Jewish Times removed a blog post from their websites calling for the consideration of genocide as an option in the Gaza conflict. The Times of Israel also dropped the blogger.
In his blog post, titled “When genocide is permissible,” Yochanan Gordon called for a consideration of the argument that Israel would never obtain quiet until it had committed genocide in the Gaza Strip.

Rania Khalek: Israel uses Palestinians as human shields but US lawmakers condemn Hamas (Electronic Intifada)
Stephanie Westbrook: Warplane delivery makes Italy complicit in Israeli crimes (Electronic Intifada)
Ali M. Latifi: Germany remains silent on massacre of its citizens in Gaza (Electronic Intifada)
Philip Weiss: If you voted for Hamas, Israel has a right to kill you, says president of NY Board of Rabbis (Mondoweiss)

Nabila Ramdani: Gaddafi has gone but Libya is more dangerous than ever, thanks to the west (Guardian)

Манифест Народного Фронта Освобождения Украины, Новороссии и Прикарпатской Руси (Радиостанция «Эхо Москвы»)
Man­i­fest der Volks­be­freiungs­front der Ukraine, Neu­rus­s­lands und der rus­sis­chen Karpaten (Linke Zeitung)

Andrew MacGregor Marshall: Thailand’s Military Government Thinks John Oliver Is a Threat to Its Monarchy (Vice News)

[T]he junta that seized power in May is paranoid about Oliver’s activities after he mocked the government and made fun of Thailand’s Crown Prince Maha Vajiralongkorn during the June 22 episode of his HBO show…
While discussing Thailand’s draconian lèse majestè law, which punishes anyone mocking the royal family with three to 15 years in jail, Oliver showed a brief clip from leaked footage of a birthday party beside a swimming pool featuring the crown prince and his wife, who is shown topless. In the footage, the royal couple blow out candles on the birthday cake with their pet poodle Foo Foo, who holds the rank of air chief marshal in the Royal Thai Air Force. The crown prince’s wife is later seen lying on the floor at her husband’s feet, posing with a piece of cake.
“And you’re telling me they’re not supposed to make fun of that?” Oliver asked. “That’s entrapment!”

Thailand | Ukraine | EU elections | torture | Palestine/Israel

Kate Hodal: Thai king endorses army chief as new leader (Guardian)

Thailand’s king has endorsed the army chief who seized power in a coup last week, amid widespread international criticism and increasing detention of those considered to be opposed to the takeover.
General Prayuth Chan-ocha (pràjút tɕanʔoːtɕʰaː ประยุทธ์ จันทร์ โอชา) told journalists on Monday morning that the much revered King Bhumibol Adulyadej (pʰuːmípʰon ʔàdunjádèːt ภูมิพลอดุลยเดช), 86, had officially backed him as the leader of the military council now running the country…
Prayuth has enacted sweeping changes in the four days since he deposed the democratically elected government.
More than 200 journalists, academics, politicians and activists have been rounded up and many of them detained in undisclosed locations, ostensibly to give them “time to think”, as Prayuth said last week.

The 21 announcements of the National Peace and Order Maintenance Council (Prachatai [pràtɕʰaːtʰaj ประชาไท])
Associated Press: Thailand: ousted cabinet minister surfaces from hiding to condemn coup (Guardian)

Former education minister Chaturon Chaisang (tɕaːtùron tɕʰǎːjsɛ̌ːŋ จาตุรนต์ ฉายแสง) detained after warning military coup could lead to ‘a disaster’. (Cāturont̒ C̄hāys̄æng was a leader of the leftist student uprising against the ruling junta in 1973.)

Thaweeporn Kummetha (tʰá wiːpʰɔːn kʰúm meːtʰaː ทวีพรคุ้มเมธา): Alternative parties in polarized Thai politics (Prachatai, November 2013)

Thomas Gaist: New Ukraine government launches airstrikes, prepares austerity measures (World Socialist Web Site)

The character of the new Ukrainian government headed by billionaire oligarch Petro Poroshenko has been quickly revealed in the day since presidential elections held over the weekend: violent repression of opposition to the regime, particularly in the east, combined with brutal austerity measures directed at the entire working class.

Sitzverteilung der Fraktionen in den EU-Staaten (Distribution of seats in the EU parliament) (Standard)
Helena Smith: Leftwing Syriza party triumphs in European elections in Greece (Guardian)
Ian Traynor: Front National wins European parliament elections in France (Guardian)
Patrick Wintour. Nicholas Watt: Ukip wins European elections with ease to set off political earthquake (Guardian)Philip Oltermann: Germany: Merkel’s CDU wins European election despite worst ever result (Guardian)

Nick Barrickman: US judge allows for continued force feeding of Guantanamo Bay prisoner (World Socialist Web Site)

US District Court Judge Gladys Kessler on Thursday ruled to allow the continued force-feeding of 42-year-old Abu Wa’el Dhiab at the Guantanamo Bay prison complex in Cuba, reversing her previous injunction against the practice…
Dhiab, a father of four, has been detained without charges at the complex for over 12 years. He was cleared for release from the camp in 2009, but has continued to languish in the camp at the hands of the Obama Administration.

Palestinian youths shot dead on camera (CNN)
Peter Beaumont: Footage of Palestinian boys being shot is genuine, says Israeli rights group (Guardian)

The Israeli human rights group B’Tselem has concluded that footage capturing the moment two Palestinian teenagers were shot dead by Israeli soldiers despite posing no risk to them is “genuine and consistent”, contradicting Israeli army claims that the footage is likely to have been forged.
A short section of edited CCTV footage was released earlier this week showing Nadim Nawara, 17, and Mohammad Salameh, 16, being shot and killed. Since then Israeli military sources have been quoted anonymously on several occasions in the local media trying to undermine the tape’s credibility…
Neither of the youths was throwing stones when they were killed, and one was walking away from the Israeli position, with his back to soldiers, when he was shot.

B’Tselem’s initial findings on Nakba Day incident at Bitunya: grave suspicion that forces willfully killed two Palestinians, injured two others (B’Tselem)
Ali Abunimah: After snipers kill children, US affirms “deep respect” for “Israeli army’s moral code” (Electronic Intifada)

The US government has reaffirmed its “deep respect for the Israeli army’s moral code” days after video emerged of the cold-blooded sniper killings of two Palestinian boys…
The comments, from US State Department spokesperson Jennifer Psaki praising the Israeli army, came as Associated Press journalist Matt Lee pressed her on her earlier call for Israel to investigate the killings.

Thailand | Ukraine

Giles Ji Ungpakorn (tɕaj ɯ́ŋ pʰaː kɔːn ใจอึ๊งภากรณ์): Smells like a coup, tastes like a coup, looks like a coup (International Journal of Socialist Renewal)

Today Thai army general Prayut Chanocha (pràjút tɕanʔoːtɕʰaː ประยุทธ์ จันทร์ โอชา) declared martial law without consulting the caretaker government or any other elected representatives. Troops took over all radio and TV stations and are positioned along major road intersections in Bangkok.
Despite the fact that he claimed that “this is not a coup”, Prayut’s actions smell, taste and look like a coup. This is from a man who has blood on his hands. Four years ago to the day Prayut oversaw the shooting down in the streets of almost 90 Red Shirt pro-democracy demonstrators.

Asia-Pacific socialists, progressive activists: ‘No to another coup in Thailand!’ (International Journal of Socialist Renewal)
Thai army stages coup as talks fail (Asia Times)

Thailand’s Army Chief General Prayuth Chan-ocha declared a coup, taking control of the government two days after invoking martial law and bringing political opponents into talks aimed at finding a compromise to six months of anti-government protests.
Prayuth said the army had to restore order and push through reforms to prevent further loss of life and stop the political conflict from escalating. The Peace and Order Maintaining Command has seized power from the caretaker government, he announced in an address broadcast on all television channels.

Shawn W. Crispin: Thailand put under martial law (Asia Times)
Shawn W. Crispin: Thai coup leader tightens grip (Asia Times)
Marco Kauffmann Bossart: Thailands Junta-Chef Prayuth: Nur dem Palast verpflichtet (Neue Zürcher Zeitung)
DPA: Militärführung bestellt Akademiker ein (Neue Zürcher Zeitung)
Marco Kauffmann Bossart: Welle der Repression in Thailand (Neue Zürcher Zeitung)

Older articles:
Giles Ji Ungpakorn: The UDD Red Shirts leadership isn’t up to the job of defending democracy (tʰaj sǎŋkʰomníjom ไทย สังคมนิยม / Red Thai Socialist)

It is obvious that to achieve freedom and democracy we shall have to pull down all the old structures of the Thai state.
But Taksin, Yingluk and Pua Thai (pʰák pʰɯ̂ːa tʰaj พรรคเพื่อไทย) have no intention of doing this. Their aim is to re-join the elite club who now run the state. They are not pro-democracy out of principle, merely out of convenience. The UDD Red Shirt leadership is wedded to Pua Thai. It is incapable of leading the necessary fight.

Ben Gliniecki: Coup and crisis in Thailand – Red Shirts must strike back (In Defence of Marxism)

The political history of Thailand is dominated by military coups. The absolute rule of the monarchy was ended in 1932 by a military manoeuvre. Recognising the role of the monarchy as a rallying point of reaction, the coup leaders established a constitutional monarchy with a National Assembly which was half appointed and half indirectly elected. Full democratic elections were not permitted because the military considered the masses too stupid to elect their own government – a mantra currently being repeated by the anti-government protesters about the peasants in the North of Thailand…
This billionaire tycoon [Thaksin Shinawatra (tʰáksǐn tɕʰinnáwát ทักษิณชินวัตร)] was not interested in a socialist transformation of society. However, while in power he implemented a number of Keynesian measures in the interests of the poor, particularly the rural poor. Income in Northeast Thailand (the poorest area) increased by 46% in the period 2001 to 2006. Nationwide poverty fell from 21.3% to 11.3% and the country’s Gini coefficient (a measure of inequality) fell in the four years from 2000 to 2004, having risen in the four years prior to that under the auspices of the IMF. This guaranteed him support from the peasantry, which strengthened his party’s support base in the face of those sections of the ruling class hostile to his ideas.
Despite economic growth of around 5-7% annually during Thaksin’s time in power, sections of the ruling class turned against him out of fear. They were afraid, not of Thaksin himself, who on the surface appeared to be no more than a bourgeois politician who had cunningly managed to lean on the peasantry to prop himself up – they were afraid of the masses that stood behind him, and they feared that Thaksin would conjure up progressive and even revolutionary forces that he would be unable to control.

Pavin Chachavalpongpun (tɕʰátwaːn pʰoŋ pʰan ปวินชัชวาล พงศ์ พันธ์): No end in sight to Thailand’s political unrest (Japan Times)

As a military coup is not viable now, conservative royalists have employed other means to try and remove Yingluck from power. The Constitutional Court, the Election Commission, the Anti-Corruption Agency and the Human Right Commission — all have found ways to delegitimize the Yingluck government. The court has been rather active in pursuing cases that might lead to Yingluck being forced from office. This is not the first time the court has played a political role. In 2008, it ordered the resignation of two Thaksin-backed prime ministers, Samak Sundaravej (sàmàk sǔntʰɔːn wêːt สมัคร สุนทรเวช) and Somchai Wongsawat (sǒmtɕʰaːj woŋ sàwàt สมชายวงศ์สวัสดิ์). Will history repeat itself?

Thai Red Shirts warn on unelected premier (AlJazeera)

Supporters of Thailand’s embattled government have warned the country’s judiciary and senate against any attempt to install an unelected prime minister, saying it would be a disaster for the nation that could spark civil war.
Jatuporn Prompan (tɕàtùpʰɔːn pʰrompʰan จตุพรพรหมพันธุ์), who heads the pro-government Red Shirt movement, made the comment on Saturday during a rally on the western edge of Bangkok that was held three days after Prime Minister Yingluck Shinawatra (jîŋ lák tɕʰinnáwát ยิ่งลักษณ์ชินวัตร) was ousted in a controversial ruling by the Constitutional Court.
Wednesday’s ruling emboldened anti-government protesters, who on Friday increased their efforts to bring down what remains of Yingluck’s administration by laying siege to television stations, surrounding state offices and demanding politicians help them install a non-elected prime minister to rule the country.

Isaac Webb: Turchynov seeks ban of Communist Party for support of separatists (Kyiv Post)
Reinhard Lauterbach: Und willst du nicht mein Bruder sein (junge Welt)

Als Alternative zu einem entschiedeneren Vorgehen gegen das Donbass einschließlich seiner Bevölkerung entwickelt [Maksim] Stricha [in der Ukrainskaja Prawda] das Konzept, das Donbass in Gottes Namen los- und es dann vor die Hunde gehen zu lassen.

Ukraine | Thailand | Palestine

David sent this link:
Alec Luhn: Will the IMF Bailout Turn Ukraine Into Another Greece? (Nation)

Ordinary people will be the undisputed losers in the International Monetary Fund’s loan deal with Ukraine. …
The combination of falling wages, growing inflation and gas, water and electricity price hikes will further reduce the purchasing power of Ukrainians, lower the standard of living and push even more people into poverty, …
“Ukrainians differ from the Portuguese and the Greeks because they don’t have many savings left,” Koltashov said. “Wages now in Ukraine are, as a rule, not enough to feed a family, and the devaluation of the hryvnia will make it totally impossible.” …
Inexplicably, the IMF-backed reforms have yet to touch two major areas that could significantly reduce the government’s deficit: tax loopholes (and huge capital flight to tax havens) and the corrupt government procurement sector, which loses up to $4.6 billion each year, Kiselyov said. But this is not so much a bailout for Ukraine as it is for Western banks.
The IMF’s most immediate concern, as former World Bank chief economist and Nobel Prize winner Joseph Stiglitz has said, is making sure Western financial institutions are paid back. European banks reportedly have more than $23 billion in outstanding loans in Ukraine, and US banks have more than $1.5 billion in outstanding loans there. …
Progressive thinkers have interpreted the IMF program as part of a larger strategy to alleviate economic crises in the West. According to New School University professor Richard Wolff, austerity in countries like Greece and Ukraine will “concentrate [economic] decline…in order to slow or disguise it elsewhere.”

More on Ukraine:
Shaun Walker, Oksana Grytsenko, Howard Amos: Ukraine: pro-Russia separatists set for victory in eastern region referendum (Guardian)

Kiev defends military’s ‘anti-terrorist operations’ as rebels say 90% of vote is in favour of ‘people’s republics’ in Donetsk and Luhansk.

Junta launches repressions against Borotba activists / Хунта развернула репрессии против активистов «Боротьбы» (Borotba)
Neo-Nazi terror in Odessa: more than 40 killed, hundreds injured / Неонацистский террор в Одессе: более сорока погибших, сотни раненых (Borotba)
Boris Kagarlitsky: The ashes of Odessa / Пепел Одессы (rabkor.ru)

Revolutions, civil conflicts and mass disturbances are always accompanied by a range of excesses. It was for this reason that in criticising the Ukrainian Maidan, we did not discuss specific acts of violence, but instead, the political content of the movement – its ideology, leaders and motive forces. We noted the people who found the movement to their advantage, and discussed the question of where its program would lead the country. From the very beginning, however, it was obvious that the actions of the “Euromaidan hundreds” clearly exceeded any norms of “acceptable force” recognised in modern society. In recent times we have seen numerous revolts and mass demonstrations in various parts of the world, but prior to the Euromaidan it had not entered anyone’s head to throw Molotov cocktails directly at people. European anarchists have often set fire to armoured police vehicles and have thrown petrol bombs into empty, locked bank and office buildings, wisely abandoned by their staff. But no one has previously tried to set fire to police standing in a cordon, or to premises with people inside. Nothing of the sort occurred even during the “Arab spring”, in Tunisia or Egypt.
Nevertheless, spontaneous violence during street clashes is one thing, while acts of vengeance, permitted and approved by the authorities and justified through propaganda, are something very different. Such phenomena are a distinctive mark of a totalitarian political movement and of its ideology. While a democratic movement condemns such excesses and strives to overcome them, fascism elevates them to the heroic, justifying and even institutionalising them. This is what we saw in Odessa on May 2 and 3.
Compounding the acts of the pogromists was repression by the state. Immediately after the burning of the House of Trade Unions, hundreds of activists of the Odessa anti-Maidan movement were detained, while there has been no word of arrests among the participants in the pogrom. The governor of Odessa province, Vladimir Nemirovsky, spoke of the “lawfulness of the actions by supporters of the Euromaidan”. To describe the Kiev government as fascist on the basis of the events of February or March 2014 was somewhat premature. But with each day that passes, the message becomes clearer: while some people may have been hasty in their characterisations of the bloc of nationalists, right-wing radicals and neoliberals that has seized power in Ukraine, these characterisations are nevertheless being confirmed.

Odessa Tragedy Planned by Authorities’ Representatives – Kiev Official (Ria Novosti)

Kate Hodal: Thai protesters blockade roads in Bangkok for ‘shutdown’ (Guardian)

Led by former deputy premier Suthep Thaugsuban (sùtʰêːp tʰɯ̂ːak sùban สุเทพเทือกสุบรรณ), thousands of protesters have set up permanent barricades and encampments at seven sites across the city. …
Suthep – a career politician who has led the People’s Democratic Reform Committee against Yingluck Shinawatra’s (jîŋ lák tɕʰinnáwát ยิ่งลักษณ์ชินวัตร) government for the past two months in a bid to rid the country of corruption – has threatened to shut down Bangkok for up to 20 days in order to replace Yingluck’s caretaker government with an unelected people’s council.

Kate Hodal: Thai prime minister Yingluck Shinawatra forced to step down (Guardian)

Niwatthamrong Boonsongpaisan (níwát tʰamroŋ bun soŋ pʰajsǎːn นิวัฒน์ธำรงบุญทรงไพศาล) named as replacement until July election after court finds Shinawatra guilty of abusing power.

Thomas Fuller: In Thailand, Standing Up for Less Democracy (New York Times)

In today’s fractured Thailand, a majority wants more democracy, but a minority, including many rich and powerful people, is petrified by the thought of it.

Amos Oz calls perpetrators of hate crimes ‘Hebrew neo-Nazis’ (Haaretz)

Speaking at a Tel Aviv event marking his 75th birthday, Oz said that terms like “hilltop youth” and “price tag” are “sweet names for a monster that needs to be called what it is: Hebrew neo-Nazis groups.”
Oz added that in his mind, perhaps the only difference between neo-Nazis around the world and perpetrators of hate crimes in Israel is that “our neo-Nazi groups enjoy the support of numerous nationalist or even racist legislators, as well as rabbis who give them what is in my view pseudo-religious justification.”

Livni: Israeli settlements are to blame for failure of talks (Haaretz)

Addressing the recent wave of anti-Arab hate crimes across the country, Livni said the perpetrators are a small radical core of West Bank settlers who do not respect the law or share Israel’s values.

יש טרור יהודי (Haaretz)
Orlando Crowcroft: Calls to class far-right Jewish settlers as terrorists after Israeli soldiers attacked (Guardian)

Calls are mounting for hardline Jewish settlers to be classified as terrorists after a spate of attacks on Palestinian property in the West Bank and Israel, and threats of violence towards Israeli soldiers. …
“It is only words. We don’t want words, we want deeds,” said Bassem Salah, 50, a construction worker.
His neighbour Ibrahim Makhlouf, 52, a teacher, also dismissed the comments of Israeli politicians, given the support that the Israeli state provides to settlements in the West Bank.
“They say it is a minority, but it is a minority supported by both the government and the army – they receive free water, free electricity, the government spend millions of dollars on them. Who are they trying to kid?” said Makhlouf.

Thailand | Egypt | Israel

John Cole, Steve Sciacchitano: Coup calculations in Thailand (Asia Times)

With hundreds of thousands of anti-government protesters occupying large swathes of the national capital and a series of shadowy armed attacks on their encampments, speculation is rising that Thailand could be on the brink of another military coup. A similar protest movement paved the way for the September 2006 putsch that overthrew former Prime Minister Thaksin Shinawatra’s [ทักษิณ ชินวัตร tʰáksǐn tɕʰinnáwát] administration. But the situation now is substantially more complicated, militating against the prospect of another army-led takeover.
During his more than three years as commander of the Royal Thai Army (RTA), General Prayuth Chan-ocha [ประยุทธ์ จันทร์โอชา pràjút tɕanʔoːtɕʰaː] has earned the reputation for sometimes speaking before thinking. Most recently, the military leader caused a stir when, after several weeks of ruling out a military intervention in Thailand’s escalating political crisis, he cryptically told reporters that he could neither open nor close the door to a future military coup.

Salma Shukrallah: Egypt’s constitution: Who’s backing it and why? (al-Ahram)

Unlike the former constitutional referendum in 2012, which saw an obvious split between Islamists and non-Islamists, polarisation has grown more complicated ahead of the upcoming constitutional referendum.

Other groups also opposing Morsi during his year in power saw the articles related to military as reason to reject constitution. Member groups of the Way of the Revolution Front, who position themselves as anti-Brotherhood and anti-military, including the April 6 youth movement, the Revolutionary Socialists and the Strong Egypt Party announced they would vote ‘no’ to the amended constitution.
The articles groups rejected include that allowing military trials of civilians, that which prevents Defence Minister Abdel-Fattah El-Sisi from being removed for two consecutive terms as well as others.
The Strong Egypt Party for its part also stated it rejected the whole context in which the constitutional amendments and referendum are taking place.
“Despite our participation on 30 June [in mass protests against the Brotherhood’s Mohamed Morsi], we are against 3 July [the day Morsi was announced ousted by army chief El-Sisi, backed by political and religious figures and a new roadmap was declared] and the consequences that followed…since then there has also been an increase in violence and repression,” Mohamed Osman of the Strong Egypt Party told Ahram Online.

The Front of the Revolutionary Path (or Way of the Revolution Front) apparently doesn’t have a website of its own, just a Facebook page and a Twitter account.
No to a constitution that does not realize the aims of the revolution (Thuwwār/Facebook)
There’s an article about them on Wikipedia in English:
Road of the Revolution Front (Wikipedia)

Amy Goodman, Rashid Khalidi, Noam Chomsky, Avi Shlaim: <a href="http://www.democracynow.org/2014/1/13/noam_chomsky_on_the_legacy_of Noam Chomsky on the Legacy of Ariel Sharon: "Not Speaking Ill of the Dead "Imposes a Vow of Silence" / Sabra & Shatila Massacre That Forced Sharon’s Ouster Recalls Worst of Jewish Pogroms / For Peace Today, US Must End Support for Sharon’s Expansionist Legacy (Democracy Now)

Among Palestinians, Sharon was one of the most reviled political figures in the history of the Israel-Palestine conflict. He’s seen as father of the settlement movement, an architect of the Israeli invasion of Lebanon, which killed a reported 20,000 Palestinians and Lebanese. An Israeli commission of inquiry found Sharon had indirect responsibility for the massacre of over a thousand Palestinian refugees at the Sabra and Shatila camps in Lebanon in 1982.

Saed Bannoura: European legislators threatened with arrest by Israeli authorities (International Middle East Media Center)

Israeli Minister of Defense Moshe Ya’alon declared, on Tuesday, that former British International Development Secretary Clare Short and three other European legislators would be arrested if they try to come to Israel, due to their involvement in a European-Palestinian organization calling for an end to the Israeli siege on Gaza.

Omar Barghouti: Is BDS’ campaign against Israel reaching a turning point? (AlJazeera)

At the height of its military – particularly nuclear – and economic power, Israel is feeling uncharacteristically vulnerable; but this time the threat is ironically coming from a nonviolent movement anchored in international law and the Universal Declaration of Human Rights. Last June, Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu effectively declared the Palestinian-led global Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions (BDS) movement a “strategic threat” to Israel’s regime of occupation, colonisation and apartheid by deciding to assign the overall responsibility for fighting against the BDS to the ministry of strategic affairs.
This dramatic shift reflects the failure of Israel’s well-oiled “Brand Israel” campaign, run by the foreign ministry since BDS was launched in 2005, which sees culture as a propaganda tool and whose logic is to use Israeli artists and writers to show the world “Israel’s prettier face”.

Herb Keinon: Foreign Ministry summons Dutch ambassador over pension fund divestment (Jerusalem Post)

For the second time in the last month and-a-half Israels Foreign Ministry on Friday summoned the Dutch ambassador to protest a large Dutch company’s decision to sever ties with Israel.
Deputy Director General for European Affairs Raffi Schutz told the Dutch ambassador that the decision of PGGM pension fund to divest from Israel is unacceptable and relies on false pretenses. …
PGGM is among the Netherlands’ largest pension fund managers, with assets in excess of €153 billion ($210b.). Its dealing with Israeli banks amounts to tens of millions of euros, according to Haaretz.
It is the latest in a string of large Dutch companies that have cut off ties with Israeli entities.
Last month Dutch water giant Vitens canceled cooperation with Israel’s water corporation Mekorot because of alleged infractions of international law.

Ahmed Moor: Sharon: The architect of terror (AlJazeera)

In many ways, Ariel Sharon was the most complete Zionist of his generation. He embodied an expansionary, rapacious view of Jewish privilege in Palestine – the essential Zionism – well after many of his co-religionists had claimed to settle for less…
Sharon’s daring and willingness to lead attacks against civilians marked him for command among his fellows. In 1953, he orchestrated the massacre of 69 Palestinian civilians in Qibya while leading “Unit 101” – an infamous Israeli army unit dedicated to extracting high civilian costs among Palestinian communities that resisted the ethnic cleansing of Palestine. The murders of mostly women and children served to foreshadow Sharon’s responsibility for Sabra and Shatila decades later…
Israel’s invasion of Lebanon in 1982 was ostensibly designed to prevent Palestine Liberation Organization (PLO) guerrillas from striking Israeli outposts near the Lebanon-Israel border. His forces shelled and besieged Beirut while world powers negotiated an end to the devastation. The Israelis agreed to withdraw in return for Yasser Arafat’s exile to Tunisia. Arafat and his fighters were forced to abandon the Sabra and Shatila refugee camps – densely populated and impoverished urban ghettos on the outskirts of Beirut. The civilians there were left defenceless against the Israelis and their allies, the Lebanese Phalange militia. After the departure of the PLO, Sharon invited the Phalangists into the camps where they spent two days massacring approximately 3,000 Palestinian and Lebanese men, women and children…
Jewish-Israelis initially rejected Sharon’s sectarian brutality and war crimes, if not his objectives. A governmental panel censured him and forced him to resign from his post as minister of defence after investigating his role in Sabra and Shatila.

Seth Anziska: A Preventable Massacre (New York Times, 16 September 2012)