Syria | USA | Britain | Media

An interesting article on the balance of forces between the Syrian government, the Islamic State, Kurdish forces, Turkey and the US:
Timur Göksel: Will Trump see eye to eye with Erdogan’s plans in Iraq, Syria? (Al-Monitor)

US Joint Chiefs of Staff Chairman Joe Dunford visited Ankara Nov. 6 and held a 4½-hour meeting with his Turkish counterparts.
This sudden, unplanned visit led some to wonder if there was a rupture between Ankara’s strategic thinking on Iraq and Syria and the United States’ goals in the region.
Ankara is hoping to find harmony with the incoming US administration on its fight against the Islamic State…
In the Nov. 6 operation, about 25,000 YPG fighters who had been controlling the Kurdish cantons of Kobani and Jazeera turned their backs to Turkey and launched an assault toward Raqqa in the south. The Kurds practically vacated their two cantons and left them wide open to a possible offensive by Turkey…
Ankara has two main goals in Iraq: to increase Turkey’s effectiveness north of Mosul and thus become part of the Mosul operation, and to eliminate the PKK’s domination of the Sinjar area that forms a bridge between Iraq and Syria…
Many key names in Ankara believe that the Trump transition team will understand the dynamics of Iraq and Syria and support Ankara in its struggle against the PKK and PYD in northern Syria and against growing Shiite influence in Iraq.

Joseph Briefel: Should Baathists have role in post-IS Iraq? (AL-Monitor)

As the inevitable defeat of IS approaches, analysts and politicians are busy discussing life in Iraq after the group. Sectarian reconciliation, political autonomy and the role of external actors such as Turkey continue to dominate the media discourse.
One group that remains absent from post-liberation narratives is the former Baathists, who have played a complex role in Mosul’s recent history and have had a dysfunctional relationship with post-2003 governments in Baghdad. If the role of former Baathists is forgotten in post-IS Iraq, then many of the key issues that arose when IS entered Mosul in 2014 will likely return in the future.
The powerful role played by former Baathists in IS’s leadership structure is well known. Abu Muslim al-Turkmani, a lieutenant colonel in Saddam’s Intelligence Service, and Abu Ali al-Anbari, a former major general under Saddam, were IS’s former deputy commanders in Iraq and Syria.

Police Attack Water Protectors at Standing Rock—AGAIN (TeleSur)

Police fired rubber bullets and teargas at protesters against the Dakota Access pipeline after a standoff at a river nearby.

Police Unleash Military-Style Assault on Standing Rock Protesters (TeleSur)

Police were spraying protesters with water in sub-freezing temperatures and firing rubber bullets, reportedly injuring 167.

Tom Phillips: Climate change a Chinese hoax? Beijing gives Donald Trump a lesson in history (Guardian)

China has rejected Donald Trump’s claims that climate change is a Chinese hoax, urging the US president-elect to take a “smart decision” over his country’s commitment to the fight against global warming.

Yoav Haifawi: The Economist in China’s Wonderland (Free Haifa)

On November 12th 2016 The Economist published a short report from Shenzhen about what seems as a totally boring subject: Chinese courier firms. It comes, as usual, under a patronizing title “China’s express-delivery sector needs consolidation and modernization”. But it contains such a glaring and laughable combination of contradictions that I found it worth bringing here to you.

Ewen MacAskill: ‘Extreme surveillance’ becomes UK law with barely a whimper (Guardian)

A bill giving the UK intelligence agencies and police the most sweeping surveillance powers in the western world has passed into law with barely a whimper, meeting only token resistance over the past 12 months from inside parliament and barely any from outside.
The Investigatory Powers Act, passed on Thursday, legalises a whole range of tools for snooping and hacking by the security services unmatched by any other country in western Europe or even the US.

India | Syria | Gabon | Black Lives | Germany | Yemen

Millions of Indian workers strike for better wages (AlJazeera)

Thousands of state-run banks, government offices and factories shut as workers rally against Modi’s economic policies…
Union officials said about 180 million workers, including state bank employees, school teachers, postal workers, miners and construction workers, were participating, but the figure could not be independently verified.

Kareem Shaheen: Turkey sends tanks into Syria in operation aimed at Isis and Kurds (Guardian)

Turkey has launched a major military intervention in Syria, sending tanks and warplanes across the border in a coordinated campaign with Syrian opposition fighters, who seized an Islamic State-held village in the area in the first hours of fighting.
The operation, called Euphrates Shield, has a dual purpose: to dislodge Isis from Jarablus, its last major redoubt on the 500-mile border, and to contain the expansion of Kurdish militias in northern Syria.

Ismail Akwei: Gabon’s parliament set on fire as riots break out amid calls to publish results (africanews)

Gabon’s parliament has been set on fire on Wednesday after rioters stormed the capital Libreville and other cities in protest against election results.
The riots started immediately after Gabon’s Minister of Interior announced last Saturday’s election results declaring incumbent president Ali Bongo the winner.

A vision for Black lives: Policy demands for Black power, freedom & justice (Movement for Black Lives)

Black humanity and dignity requires black political will and power. In response to the sustained and increasingly visible violence against Black communities in the U.S. and globally, a collective of more than 50 organizations representing thousands of Black people from across the country have come together with renewed energy and purpose to articulate a common vision and agenda. We are a collective that centers and is rooted in Black communities, but we recognize we have a shared struggle with all oppressed people; collective liberation will be a product of all of our work.

Robin D. G. Kelley: What Does Black Lives Matter Want? (CounterPunch)

On August 1 the Movement for Black Lives (M4BL), a coalition of over sixty organizations, rolled out “A Vision for Black Lives: Policy Demands for Black Power, Freedom & Justice,” an ambitious document described by the press as the first signs of what young black activists “really want.” It lays out six demands aimed at ending all forms of violence and injustice endured by black people; redirecting resources from prisons and the military to education, health, and safety; creating a just, democratically controlled economy; and securing black political power within a genuinely inclusive democracy. Backing the demands are forty separate proposals and thirty-four policy briefs, replete with data, context, and legislative recommendations…
“A Vision for Black Lives” was not a response to the U.S. presidential election, nor to unfounded criticisms of the movement as “rudderless” or merely a hashtag. It was the product of a year of collective discussion, research, collaboration, and intense debate, beginning with the Movement for Black Lives Convening in Cleveland last July, which initially brought together thirty different organizations. It was the product of some of the country’s greatest minds representing organizations such as the Black Youth Project 100, Million Hoodies, Black Alliance for Just Immigration, Dream Defenders, the Organization for Black Struggle, and Southerners on New Ground (SONG)…
The result is actually more than a platform. It is a remarkable blueprint for social transformation that ought to be read and discussed by everyone. The demands are not intended as Band-Aids to patch up the existing system but achievable goals that will produce deep structural changes and improve the lives of all Americans and much of the world.

Philip Oltermann: Angela Merkel’s party beaten by rightwing populists in German elections (Guardian)

Angela Merkel has suffered a sobering defeat in regional elections in her constituency of Mecklenburg-Vorpommern, with her Christian Democratic Union (CDU) coming third behind the Social Democrats (SPD) and the rightwing populists Alternative für Deutschland (AfD).
Projections late on Sunday night saw the centre-left SPD on 30.5%, the anti-immigration AfD on 20.9%, and the chancellor’s centre-right CDU suffering its all-time lowest result in the eastern state, on 19%. Earlier this year, the CDU had looked like the party most likely to be tasked with forming the next government in the state.

Johannes Stern: German Luftwaffe begin NATO patrols over the Baltic / Deutsche Luftwaffe patrouilliert wieder über dem Baltikum (World Socialist Website)

The return of German troops to Eastern Europe is part of the preparations for war against Russia adopted in early July at the NATO summit in Warsaw. These include the deployment of four additional battalions, each with at least 1,000 troops, to the Baltic States and Poland (Germany will take over command of the battalion in Lithuania), the establishment of a NATO missile defence system in Eastern Europe and a further shifting of the most powerful military alliance in the world in the direction of the Russian border.
All these measures increase the risk of direct conflict with nuclear-armed power Russia…
If one of the Baltic states ruled by far-right, anti-Russian parties, provokes a conflict with Russia, Germany is pledged to wage war against Russia.

Patrick Martin: The most unpopular candidates in American history (World Socialist Website)

The contest between the militaristic Clinton and the fascistic Trump has alienated tens of millions from the corporate-controlled two-party system.

Bill Van Auken: New York Times launches McCarthyite witch-hunt against Julian Assange (World Socialist Website)

The New York Times Thursday published an article entitled “How Russia Often Benefits When Julian Assange Reveals the West’s Secrets.” The 5,000-word piece, covering three columns of the top half of its front page, boasts three bylines. Presented as a major investigative news article, it is a piece of pro-government propaganda, whose style and outright character assassination against the WikiLeaks founder seems to have been cribbed from the vilest McCarthyite smear jobs of the 1950s.

Peter Symonds: RAND Corporation lays out scenarios for US war with China / „Das Undenkbare denken“: USA entwerfen Szenarien für Krieg gegen China (World Socialist Website)

A new study by the RAND Corporation titled “War with China: Thinking Through the Unthinkable” is just the latest think tank paper devoted to assessing a US war against China. The study, commissioned by the US Army, provides further evidence that a war with China is being planned and prepared in the upper echelons of the American military-intelligence apparatus.

America Is Complicit in the Carnage in Yemen (New York Times)

A hospital associated with Doctors Without Borders. A school. A potato chip factory. Under international law, those facilities in Yemen are not legitimate military targets. Yet all were bombed in recent days by warplanes belonging to a coalition led by Saudi Arabia, killing more than 40 civilians.
The United States is complicit in this carnage. It has enabled the coalition in many ways, including selling arms to the Saudis to mollify them after the nuclear deal with Iran. Congress should put the arms sales on hold and President Obama should quietly inform Riyadh that the United States will withdraw crucial assistance if the Saudis do not stop targeting civilians and agree to negotiate peace.

Alex Emmons: The Death Toll in Yemen Is So High the Red Cross Has Started Donating Morgues to Hospitals (Intercept)

Saudi Arabia began bombing Yemen in March 2015, after Houthi rebels took control of the capital and forced Yemen’s Saudi-backed leader, Abdu Rabbu Mansour Hadi, into exile. The United Nations has since attributed the majority of the war’s 6,500 deaths to the Saudi coalition, which the U.S. and U.K. have resupplied with tens of billions of dollars of weapons.

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)

Syria | Refugees | Portugal | Srebrenica

Mark Galeotti: Why did it take Turkey just 17 seconds to shoot down Russian jet? (Guardian)

Even if Turkey is right that a Russian fighter jet strayed into its airspace, the plane was within Ankara’s borders for just 17 seconds before being attacked – and was making no hostile moves against the Turks.
Airspace incursions, granted usually in less politically tense contexts, happen all the time, and generally you’d expect warning shots to be fired and then attempts to force the intruder to leave or to land…
In 2012, the Syrians shot down a Turkish jet which had entered its airspace, and Erdoğan’s furious response at the time was that “a short-term border violation can never be a pretext for an attack”.
(At the time, the then Nato secretary general Anders Fogh Rasmussen called it “another example of the Syrian authorities’ disregard for international norms”. There hasn’t been a similar critique of Ankara.)

Mike Whitney: Putin’s Revenge? The Fight for the Border (CounterPunch)

Sahra Wagenknecht: Refugee Crisis: The Result of Western Wars and Destabilization (Monthly Review)

Everyone is talking about refugees, but why isn’t anyone talking about the reason why they have to leave their homes? What is happening in the Middle East is no natural disaster. The refugee crisis is a direct result of a policy of destabilization and war.

Conn Hallinan: Portugal: the Left Takes Charge (CounterPunch)

Portugal’s elections saw three left parties—the Socialist Party, the Left Bloc, and the Communist/Green Alliance take 62 percent of the vote and end the rightwing Forward Portugal Party’s majority in the 230-seat parliament. Forward Portugal is made up of the Social Democratic Party and the Popular Party.
Even though Forward Portugal lost the election—it emerged the largest party, but garnered only 38 percent of the votes—Silva allowed its leader, former Prime Minister Passos Coelho, to form a government. That maneuver lasted just 11 days. When Coelho introduced a budget loaded with austerity measures and privatization schemes, the left alliance voted it down, forcing the government to resign.

Edward S. Herman, David Peterson: Vulliamy and Hartmann on Srebrenica: A Study in Propaganda (Monthly Review)

After having stoked the civil wars and violent dismantling of Yugoslavia of 1991-1995, the United States—with the help of the ICTY—stoked a crisis in Kosovo which it used to force a war against Serbia, a war which enabled the U.S.-led NATO bloc to occupy Kosovo and later separate it from Serbia, and left Serbia a crushed and subservient state. The construction and use of the ICTY to demonize Serbs was part of the war-making plan, as the ICTY called for refusing to negotiate a settlement with, and pursuing as criminals, Serb targets.

Turkey/Kurdistan | Israel/Palestine | Postcolonialism

Constanze Letsch, Ian Traynor: Turkey election: ruling party loses majority as pro-Kurdish HDP gains seats (Guardian)

Recep Tayyip Erdoğan’s Justice and Development party wins 41% of vote – meaning it will need a coalition partner to form a government.

HDP wins 13.1% of votes and 80 deputies (Kurdish Question)

The Peoples’ Democratic Party (HDP) has demolished the 10 percent election threshold in Turkey and North Kurdistan, getting 13.1 percent of the votes from 6 million 52 thousand voters and gaining 80 seats in the Turkish parliament. The party has increased its votes in Istanbul by 100 percent and has been the only party sending deputies to the parliament in many cities.
Besides exceeding the election threshold as a party for the first time and thus hindering the AKP from gaining power alone, the HDP also multiplied its votes in Turkey and North Kurdistan…
The HDP has outscored other parties in the provinces of Iğdır, Şırnak, Hakkari, Dersim and Ağrı. The party has granted 3 deputies from Hakkari with 87.7 %, 2 from Iğdır with 55.94 %, 4 from Şırnak with 83.93 %, 2 from Dersim with 60.06 %, and 4 from Ağrı with 76.94 %.
The AKP which persistently advocated “one flag, one land, one nation, one state” while taking no concrete steps for the resolution of the Kurdish question, has collapsed in the Kurdish region, …
The HDP also overthrew the threshold in İstanbul where it won 11 seats, winning 12.60 % with 1 million, 68 thousand, 808 votes, as well as in İzmir where it gained 2 seats, winning 10.54 % with 285,256 votes.

Mark Lowen: Turkey election: Kurds, women, gays put faith in upstart party (BBC)
Kate Lyons: Record number of women elected to Turkish parliament (Guardian)

The HDP campaigned on leftwing issues such as raising the minimum wage and improving access to university education, and on a platform of gender equality, promising to create a ministry of women and make International Women’s Day a national holiday.
The party has male and female co-chairs and a near-50% quota for female candidates and 10% quota for LGBT candidates. It charges women half as much as men to stand as candidates. Such policies are yielding results: 268 of the HDP’s 550 candidates were women, and 31 (39%) of its 80 elected MPs.

Gideon Levy: Israel washed itself clean of Gaza’s dead beach children (Haaretz)

The IDF should have been the first to press for a true investigation of the death of three boys shelled on Gaza’s coast – instead it blamed Hamas, as if it had sent the boys to play on the beach.

Peter Beaumont: Witness to a shelling: first-hand account of deadly strike on Gaza port (Guardian, 16 June 2014)
Amy Goodman, Yousef Munayyer, Gideon Levy: Israeli Report Finds 2014 Gaza War “Lawful” and “Legitimate” Ahead of Critical U.N. Investigation (Democracy Now)

The Israeli government has released a report that concludes its military actions in the 2014 war in Gaza were “lawful” and “legitimate.” The findings come ahead of what is expected to be a critical United Nations investigation into the 50-day conflict that Israel has dismissed as biased and refused to cooperate with. More than 2,200 Palestinians died in what was called “Operation Protective Edge,” the vast majority civilians. On Israel’s side, 73 people were killed, all but six of them soldiers.

Ali Abunimah: UN’s Ban Ki-moon caves in, takes Israel off list of serious child abusers (Electronic Intifada)

UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon has caved in to pressure from Israel and the United States and taken the Israeli military off an official list of serious violators of children’s rights, in this year’s report on children in armed conflict.
In doing so, Ban rejected an official recommendation from his own Special Representative for Children and Armed Conflict Leila Zerrougui and numerous human rights organizations and child rights defenders.
Ban’s act is particularly egregious since the report found that the number of children killed in the occupied West Bank and Gaza Strip in 2014, at 557, was the third highest only after Iraq and Afghanistan and ahead of Syria.

Colum Lynch: Israel’s Shield (Foreign Policy)

The Obama administration is seen as no great friend of Bibi’s government. But behind the scenes at the U.N., the United States is working hard to protect it.

Gideon Levy, Alex Levac: Starved for freedom: Palestinian goes on hunger strike for 4th time (Haaretz)

It’s his fourth hunger strike and his 10th arrest without charges trial. Cumulatively, he has spent more than six years in Israeli prisons, almost always under the system of “administrative detention” – arrest without trial. His persecutors, the security authorities, have not presented any legal evidence in court to corroborate their suspicions. Only once was he convicted and sent to prison by a court. On all the other occasions, he was thrown into jail for months and even years. Each time without an indictment, without a trial, without being informed of the charges against him.

Ido Efrati, Jonathan Lis: Israeli government approves bill to force feed prisoners on hunger strike (Haaretz)

Israeli Medical Association says bill violates ethical standards and requires doctors to employ ‘means bordering on torture.’

Aeyal Gross: Pinkwashing debate / Gay rights in Israel are being appropriated for propaganda value (Haaretz)

Using gay rights as a yardstick for a country’s human rights record makes it seem as if the Israeli occupation does not undermine democracy and human rights.

Israel boasts about gay rights, but discrimination still prevalent (Haaretz)

Jonah Birch: How Does the Subaltern Speak?: An Interview with Vivek Chibber (Jacobin)

In recent decades, postcolonial theory has largely displaced Marxism as the dominant perspective among intellectuals engaged in the project of critically examining the relationship between the Western and non-Western worlds. Originating in the humanities, postcolonial theory has subse­quently become increasingly influential in history, anthropology, and the social sciences. Its rejection of the universalisms and meta-narratives associated with Enlightenment thought dovetailed with the broader turn of the intellectual left during the 1980s and 1990s.
Vivek Chibber’s new book, Postcolonial Theory and the Specter of Capital, represents a wide-ranging challenge to many of the core tenets of postcolonial theory. Focusing particularly on the strain of postcolonial theory known as subaltern studies, Chibber makes a strong case for why we can — and must — conceptualize the non-Western world through the same analytical lens that we use to understand developments in the West. He offers a sustained defense of theoretical approaches that emphasize universal categories like capitalism and class. His work constitutes an argument for the continued relevance of Marxism in the face of some of its most trenchant critics.

Turkey | Russia | Venezuela | Israel

Patrick Cockburn: Whose side is Turkey on? (London Review of Books)

In September, Isis turned its attention to the two and a half million Syrian Kurds who had gained de facto autonomy in three cantons just south of the Turkish border. One of these cantons, centred on the town of Kobani, became the target of a determined assault. By 6 October, Isis fighters had fought their way into the centre of the town. Recep Tayyip Erdoğan predicted that its fall was imminent; John Kerry spoke of the ‘tragedy’ of Kobani, but claimed – implausibly – that its capture wouldn’t be of great significance…
But the inevitable Isis victory at Kobani didn’t happen. On 19 October, in a reversal of previous policy, US aircraft dropped arms, ammunition and medicine to the town’s defenders. Under American pressure, Turkey announced on the same day that it would allow Iraqi Kurdish peshmerga safe passage from northern Iraq to Kobani; Kurdish fighters have now recaptured part of the town.

Elke Dangeleit: Kurden erklären Gleichberechtigung der Frauen (Telepolis)

Die kurdischen Kämpferinnen der YPJ und PKK spielen eine Vorreiterrolle in der Frauenemanzipation im Nahen Osten.

Vasily Koltashov, Boris Kagarlitsky: Will Putin abandon eastern Ukraine’s rebels? (Links) / Кто понесет голову Путина (cassad.net)

It seems that Russian authorities have found a way towards accommodation with the West. Liberals have become more powerful and are leading the talks. They are ready to make concessions and see no problem in the sacrifice of Novorossiya, and, if necessary, even Russia’s own interests. There’s just one remaining question: who will remove the Russian president’s head and present it on a platter to the USA? …
In the autumn world oil prices sank unexpectedly sharply. In mid-October the price of a barrel of “black gold” fell to US$85. Russia’s economic situation worsened swiftly, but no one in the government intends changing course. Although, in effect, precisely that course — long before the economic sanctions pushed Russia to its own economic sanctions — is the fundamental reason for the current difficulties…
Sanctions imposed by the USA, EU and other governments have proven to be effective. But it was not this that undermined the economy, but because they scared the elites. They showed Russia’s governing class its financial vulnerability…
However much we are told of “Russian imperialism”, contemporary Russia is above all a dependent, peripheral country, whose ruling class does not wish to carry out a transformation that would permit genuine independence and influence in the world — because these transformations would inevitably hurt the interests of the contemporary elite. At least, the interests of an important part of it.
The Russian authorities have already made clear to the USA and the EU that they reject any possibility of the uprising being victorious throughout the whole of Ukraine. They have blockaded it on the territories occupied by the militias…
Sacrificing Novorossiya, relying on European ruling circles and appeasing the USA—such is the current plan of the domestic elites in order to end the conflict.

Василий Колташов: Кому в России жить хорошо? (Russia.ru)
Ulrich Heyden: Ist Putin wirklich so stark wie immer behauptet? (Telepolis)

Edgardo Lander: Venezuela: terminal crisis of the rentier petro-state? (Transnational Institute)

Venezuela’s failure to develop an effective strategy to reduce its economy’s dependence on gas and oil threatens the social successes and future viability of the Bolivarian project.

Leandros Fischer: The German Left’s Palestine Problem (Jacobin)

Die Linke’s position on Palestine has isolated it from the global solidarity movement and strengthened the party’s worst elements…
That a German party, even a left-wing one, should be somewhat cautious in criticizing Israel, in a country where the definitions of Judaism, Israel, and Zionism have been consciously conflated for half a century, should not come as a surprise. But that parts of its top brass should actively work with the media to smear two internationally known Jewish anti-Zionists as “antisemites” is truly alarming and casts serious doubts on the party’s ability to relate to the global Palestine solidarity movement.

Open Letter to German Left Party (ZNet) / Widerspruch gegen linkes Lavieren (Neues Deutschland)

Barak Ravid: Israel denies Colombian foreign minister entry to Ramallah (Haaretz)

Israel this week denied a request by Colombian Foreign Minister The Maria Angela Holguin to visit Ramallah.
According to a statement by the Foreign Ministry in Bogota, Israel would only permit Holguin to visit Ramallah if she agreed to visit Jerusalem on the same visit to the region. A senior official in the Israeli Foreign Ministry confirmed the matter, stating that the directive was ordered by Foreign Minister Avigdor Lieberman.
It is highly unusual for the Foreign Ministry in Jerusalem to give such a directive, and it appears that the move was made in an effort to harden its policy with regards to visits by foreign ministers to the Palestinian Authority, which are normally carried out without any difficulty.

John Bellamy Foster and Michael D. Yates: Piketty and the Crisis of Neoclassical Economics (Monthly Review)

Not since the Great Depression of the 1930s has it been so apparent that the core capitalist economies are experiencing secular stagnation, characterized by slow growth, rising unemployment and underemployment, and idle productive capacity. Consequently, mainstream economics is finally beginning to recognize the economic stagnation tendency that has long been a focus in these pages, although it has yet to develop a coherent analysis of the phenomenon. Accompanying the long-term decline in the growth trend has been an extraordinary increase in economic inequality, which one of us labeled “The Great Inequality,” and which has recently been dramatized by the publication of French economist Thomas Piketty’s Capital in the Twenty-First Century. Taken together, these two realities of deepening stagnation and growing inequality have created a severe crisis for orthodox (or neoclassical) economics.

Ed Vulliamy, Helena Smith: Athens 1944: Britain’s dirty secret (Guardian)

Chile | Kurdistan | Ukraine | Israel

Penelope sent this link:
Evgeny Morozov: The Planning Machine (The New Yorker)

In June, 1972, Ángel Parra, Chile’s leading folksinger, wrote a song titled “Litany for a Computer and a Baby About to Be Born.” Computers are like children, he sang, and Chilean bureaucrats must not abandon them. The song was prompted by a visit to Santiago from a British consultant who, with his ample beard and burly physique, reminded Parra of Santa Claus—a Santa bearing a “hidden gift, cybernetics.”
The consultant, Stafford Beer, had been brought in by Chile’s top planners to help guide the country down what Salvador Allende, its democratically elected Marxist leader, was calling “the Chilean road to socialism.” Beer was a leading theorist of cybernetics—a discipline born of midcentury efforts to understand the role of communication in controlling social, biological, and technical systems. Chile’s government had a lot to control: Allende, who took office in November of 1970, had swiftly nationalized the country’s key industries, and he promised “worker participation” in the planning process. Beer’s mission was to deliver a hypermodern information system that would make this possible, and so bring socialism into the computer age. The system he devised had a gleaming, sci-fi name: Project Cybersyn…
When Beer was a steel-industry executive, he would assemble experts—anthropologists, biologists, logicians—and dispatch them to extract such tacit knowledge from the shop floor. The goal was to produce a list of relevant indicators (like total gasoline reserves or delivery delays) that could be monitored so that managers would be able to head off problems early. In Chile, Beer intended to replicate the modelling process: officials would draw up the list of key production indicators after consulting with workers and managers. “The on-line control computer ought to be sensorily coupled to events in real time,” Beer argued in a 1964 lecture that presaged the arrival of smart, net-connected devices—the so-called Internet of Things. Given early notice, the workers could probably solve most of their own problems. Everyone would gain from computers: workers would enjoy more autonomy while managers would find the time for long-term planning. For Allende, this was good socialism. For Beer, this was good cybernetics.

Stupid wars (RT; Video)

What is Washington’s strategy against the Islamic State? Is the Islamic State a creation of the United States? Is the war on terror really a war on Islam? Will the US make amends with Iran in order to defeat the jihadist militants? What is Washington’s endgame? CrossTalking with Ken O’Keefe, Majid Rafizadeh, and Peter van Buren.

Rafael Taylor: The new PKK: unleashing a social revolution in Kurdistan (Roar)

As the prospect of Kurdish independence becomes ever more imminent, the Kurdistan Workers’ Party transforms itself into a force for radical democracy.

Sergei Kirichuk: Path into darkness (Ліва) / Путь во тьму (Боротьба)

The negotiations in Milan in a sense completed a diplomatic cycle begun by the Minsk Agreement, heralding a still weak hope for de-escalation of the conflict in Ukraine. It became clear that Russian gas will be supplied to Ukraine this winter and the Poroshenko administration will be able to provide heating to the population without resorting to exotic options like South African coal or Norwegian gas via Slovakia.

Victor Shapinov: Left in fascist Ukraine (Боротьба)

The election results are clear. The bloc of oligarchs and nationalists, who longed for power at the Maidan, have consolidated their power. In this the junta became more homogeneous – the purely oligarchic parties have adopted Nazi rhetoric (Yatsenyuk first and foremost), and among the nationalists Lyashko came to the fore, more clearly elitist than the uncouth fans of SS runes, and not so embarrassing for Europe. Actually the logic of the political process was understandable in the days of the Maidan — the strongest momentum was to the right. And it passes through the strengthening of the neo-Nazi fringe, and the Nazification of moderate “pro-European” politicians.

Tunisie: le discours policé des islamistes d’Ennahda après un bilan controversé (Assawra [at̠-T̠awra])

Les islamistes tunisiens d’Ennahda, arrivés deuxièmes aux législatives, n’ont eu de cesse de polir pendant la campagne leur image éreintée par deux ans au pouvoir et d’insister, bons perdants, sur leur attachement à la démocratie.
Répété à l’envi, “consensus” fut le maître mot des interventions de ses chefs dans les médias comme sur le terrain.
Et une fois les premières estimations publiées, les responsables du parti ont reconnu être arrivés derrière la formation anti-islamiste Nidaa Tounès sans attendre les résultats officiels, qui n’avaient toujours pas été proclamés mercredi matin.

The Two Most Important Things About Malala Yousafzai That Everyone Seems to Ignore… (Political Blind Spot)

In the wake of Malala Yousafzai’s snubbing by the Nobel Committee some have raised important questions like did Malala lose the award because the committed was afraid to confront radical Islam?
Perhaps, but an even more fundamental question is why is no one talking about Malala Yousafzai’s religion or politics?
The Jewish Forward poignantly notes that “As touching as Stewart’s interview with her was, and it was touching, it did overlook a big part of what makes Malala Malala, and that is her religion. Yousafzai is a Muslim, and sees the potential for reform within the context of Islam, and not, like other prominent feminists from Muslim countries, outside of it.”
In all the Western media craze over Malala, there is another key point ignored about her: she is not only a Muslim feminist, she is a socialist with Marxist tendencies. In her own words: “I am convinced Socialism is the only answer and I urge all comrades to take this struggle to a victorious conclusion. Only this will free us from the chains of bigotry and exploitation.”

Jill Treanor: Richest 1% of people own nearly half of global wealth, says report (Guardian)

The richest 1% of the world’s population are getting wealthier, owning more than 48% of global wealth, according to a report published on Tuesday which warned growing inequality could be a trigger for recession.
According to the Credit Suisse global wealth report (pdf), a person needs just $3,650 – including the value of equity in their home – to be among the wealthiest half of world citizens. However, more than $77,000 is required to be a member of the top 10% of global wealth holders, and $798,000 to belong to the top 1%.
“Taken together, the bottom half of the global population own less than 1% of total wealth. In sharp contrast, the richest decile hold 87% of the world’s wealth, and the top percentile alone account for 48.2% of global assets,” said the annual report, now in its fifth year.

Eric Lichtblau: In Cold War, U.S. Spy Agencies Used 1,000 Nazis (New York Times)

In the decades after World War II, the C.I.A. and other United States agencies employed at least a thousand Nazis as Cold War spies and informants and, as recently as the 1990s, concealed the government’s ties to some still living in America, newly disclosed records and interviews show.

Asher Schechter: Why Israel pretends Mohammed isn’t there (Haaretz)

Earlier this week, Israel’s Population, Immigration and Borders Authority (PIBA) released its annual statement for Rosh Hashanah. Filled with tidbits about Israel’s population, such as the official number of Israeli citizens (8,904,373) and how many births occurred during the outgoing Jewish year (176,230), a main attraction in PIBA’s annual publication is the list of most-popular baby names.
The year 5774 saw a stunning upset when it came to girls: Tamar dethroned Noa. Regarding boys, the most popular names stayed Yosef, Daniel and Uri.
But Yosef wasn’t actually the most popular baby name in Israel. That, as reported by Haaretz’s Ilan Lior last week, was in fact Mohammad.

Samir Amin: Contra Hart and Negri (Monthly Review) / Au sujet des thèses de Michael Hardt et d’Antonio Negri. Multitude ou prolétarisation ? (Mémoire des luttes)

The term multitude was first used in Europe, it seems, by the Dutch philosopher Spinoza, to whom Michael Hardt and Antonio Negri explicitly refer. It then designated the “common people” who were a majority in the cities of the Ancien Régime and deprived of participation in political power (reserved for the monarch and the aristocracy), economic power (reserved for property owners of feudal ancestry or for the nascent financial bourgeoisie, both urban and rural—including the rich peasants), and social power (reserved for the Church and its clerics). The status of the common people varied. In the city, they were artisans, small merchants, pieceworkers, paupers, and beggars; in the country, they were landless. The common people in the cities were restless and frequently exploded into violent insurrections. They were often mobilized by others—particularly the nascent bourgeoisie, the active component of the Third Estate in France—in their conflicts with the aristocracy…
We are, then, quite far from a step backward towards a diversification of statuses similar to that which characterized the multitude in the past. In fact, we are in the exact opposite situation. Before Hardt and Negri, Touraine had confused the new segmentation with the “end of the proletariat,” and in that vein, substituted the struggle of “social movements” (in the plural) specific to each of these segments in the new social reality for the struggle of the proletariat (in the singular).

India | Inequality | Syria

Arundhati Roy, Amy Goodman, Nermeen Shaikh: Is India on a Totalitarian Path? (Democracy Now)

Voting has begun in India in the largest election the world has ever seen. About 815 million Indians are eligible to vote over the next five weeks. The number of voters in India is more than two-and-a-half times the entire population of the United States. The election will take place in nine phases at over 900,000 polling stations across India. Results will be known on May 16th.
Pre-election polls indicate Narendra Modi will likely become India’s next prime minister. Modi is the leader of the BJP, a Hindu nationalist party. He … served as the chief minister of Gujarat, where one of India’s worst anti-Muslim riots occurred in 2002 that left at least a thousand people dead.

Valentin Mândrăşescu: Russia prepares to attack the petrodollar (Voice of Russia)

The US dollar’s position as the base currency for global energy trading gives the US a number of unfair advantages. It seems that Moscow is ready to take those advantages away.

Peter Koenig: Russia’s Petro-Ruble Challenges US Dollar Hegemony. China Seeks Development of Eurasian Trade (Global Research)

Russia has just dropped another bombshell, announcing not only the de-coupling of its trade from the dollar, but also that its hydrocarbon trade will in the future be carried out in rubles and local currencies of its trading partners – no longer in dollars.

Seymour M. Hersh: The Red Line and the Rat Line: Obama, Erdoğan and the Syrian rebels (London Review of Books)

In 2011 Barack Obama led an allied military intervention in Libya without consulting the US Congress. Last August, after the sarin attack on the Damascus suburb of Ghouta, he was ready to launch an allied air strike, this time to punish the Syrian government for allegedly crossing the ‘red line’ he had set in 2012 on the use of chemical weapons.​ Then with less than two days to go before the planned strike, he announced that he would seek congressional approval for the intervention. The strike was postponed as Congress prepared for hearings, and subsequently cancelled when Obama accepted Assad’s offer to relinquish his chemical arsenal in a deal brokered by Russia. Why did Obama delay and then relent on Syria when he was not shy about rushing into Libya?
Obama’s change of mind had its origins at Porton Down, the defence laboratory in Wiltshire. British intelligence had obtained a sample of the sarin used in the 21 August attack and analysis demonstrated that the gas used didn’t match the batches known to exist in the Syrian army’s chemical weapons arsenal.

(cf. this article by Hersh from December 2013: Whose sarin? [London Review of Books])
Seymour Hersh, Amy Goodman: Sy Hersh Reveals Potential Turkish Role in Syria Chemical Strike That Almost Sparked U.S. Bombing (Democracy Now)

Charles Andrews: Thomas Piketty’s Capital in the Twenty-First Century: Its Uses and Limits (Monthly Review)

Capital in the Twenty-First Century by Thomas Piketty has caused a stir, which it deserves. Capital 21, as we will abbreviate the title, grapples with a prominent current issue: outrageously unequal incomes and wealth.

Paul Krugman: Why We’re in a New Gilded Age (New Yorker)
John Cassidy: Forces of divergence: Is surging inequality endemic to capitalism? (New Yorker)

[I]n the United States in 2010 …, the richest ten per cent of households owned seventy per cent of all the country’s wealth (a good surrogate for “capital”), and the top one per cent of households owned thirty-five per cent of the wealth. By contrast, the bottom half of households owned just five per cent. When income generated by capital grows rapidly, the richest families benefit disproportionately…
Piketty takes some well-aimed shots at economists who seek to obfuscate this reality. “In studying the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries it is possible to think that the evolution of prices and wages, or incomes and wealth, obeys an autonomous economic logic having little or nothing to do with the logic of politics or culture,” he writes. “When one studies the twentieth century, however, such an illusion falls apart immediately. A quick glance at the curves describing income and wealth inequality or the capital/income ratio is enough to show that politics is ubiquitous and that economic and political changes are inextricably intertwined and must be studied together.”

Andrew Hussey: Occupy was right: capitalism has failed the world (Guardian)

One of the slogans of the 2011 Occupy protests was ‘capitalism isn’t working’. Now, in an epic, groundbreaking new book, French economist Thomas Piketty explains why they’re right.

Will Hutton: Capitalism simply isn’t working and here are the reasons why (Guardian)

Jason Leopold: Revealed: Senate report contains new details on CIA black sites (AlJazeera)

A Senate Intelligence Committee report provides the first official confirmation that the CIA secretly operated a black site prison out of Guantánamo Bay, two U.S. officials who have read portions of the report have told Al Jazeera.
The officials — who spoke on condition of anonymity because the 6,600-page report on the CIA’s detention and interrogation program remains classified — said top-secret agency documents reveal that at least 10 high-value targets were secretly held and interrogated at Guantánamo’s Camp Echo at various times from late 2003 to 2004. They were then flown to Rabat, Morocco, before being officially sent to the U.S. military’s detention facility at Guantánamo in September 2006.

Ukraine | Venezuela | Turkey–Syria | Egypt | Myanmar | Palestine | Britain

John sent these links:
Dmytro Gorshkov: Ex-Ukraine Leader Tymoshenko Faces Heat For Comments About Nuking Russians (Business Insider)

Ukraine’s former prime minister Yulia Tymoshenko was plunged into fresh controversy on Tuesday after Russian television broadcast a tape where she is heard urging the “wiping out” of Russians over Moscow’s seizure of Crimea…
“This really crosses all the boundaries,” Tymoshenko is heard to say in the leaked phone call posted on YouTube and broadcast extensively on Russian television Monday.
“One has to take up arms and go wipe out these damn ‘katsaps’ together with their leader,” the voice said in Russian, without mentioning Putin by name.
The word “katsap” is a derogatory Ukrainian term for Russians…
“I am sorry that I am not able to be there and am not in charge of these processes, they wouldn’t have had a fucking chance of getting Crimea off me.”
“I would have found a way to finish off these bastards,” the 53-year-old leader of the 2004 pro-democracy Orange revolution was heard as saying.
“I am hoping that I will use all my connections and will get the whole world to rise up so that not even scorched earth would be left of Russia.”
Discussing the fate of Ukraine’s eight million ethnic Russians with Shufrych, Tymoshenko was also heard as saying that they should be “nuked”.

Boris Kagarlitsky: ‘A quadrille of monsters’ and ‘Smashing the feed trough’ (Links International Journal of Socialist Renewal)
Here are the original articles:
Борис Кагарлицкий: Кадриль чудовищ | Разбить кормушку (рабкор.ру)
And here’s another article by Kagarlitsky:
Борис Кагарлицкий: “Вежливая интервенция” и украинская революция (рабкор.ру)
Boris Kagarlitsky: ‘Polite intervention’ and the Ukrainian uprising (Links International Journal of Socialist Renewal)
More on Ukraine:
Alec Luhn: IMF offers Ukraine bailout as Yulia Tymoshenko enters presidential race (Guardian)

Whoever wins the vote on 25 May will face a tough task. The International Monetary Fund on Thursday offered Ukraine a bailout of up to $18bn (£10.9bn) over two years, in return for harsh economic reforms that may well worsen living standards for the already impoverished population. Further IMF aid will be unlocked if austerity measures are passed, including a sharp rise in the cost of energy…
Apart from the rise of up to 50% in the price of gas for consumers, Ukraine's state-controlled natural gas provider announced a 40% gas price increase for local heating companies, starting on 1 July. The government also accepted a flexible exchange rate for its currency, the hryvnia, which has fuelled inflation: an annual inflation rate of 12-14% is predicted.

Ulrich Rippert: Die „Demokraten“ des Maidan / The real face of Ukraine’s Maidan “democrats” (WSWS)

Two events this week have exposed the propaganda used by the German government and its allies to justify their actions in Ukraine: the death of Alexander Musytchko and a telephone conversation with Yulia Timoschenko, which was intercepted and made public.

Alex Lantier: Leader of US-backed Ukrainian fascist Right Sector militia killed in police shootout (WSWS)

At the time of his death, Muzychko was also under investigation for involvement in Ukrainian organized crime. He also faced an international arrest warrant, for torturing Russian prisoners while fighting on the side of Islamist Chechen separatists against Russia in 1994-95.

‘I dare you to take my gun!’ AK-47-toting Ukraine far-right leader tells officials (RT)
Ukrainian nationalist with AK-47 threatens to hang Interior minister ‘like a dog’ (RT)
Murderous Ukrainian ultra-nationalist dead – after 2 decades of violent thuggery (RT)
Thomas Eipeldauer: Bruderzwist (Hintergrund)

Andrew Cawthorne, Diego Ore: Venezuela unrest shakes up opposition (Reuters)

Leopoldo Lopez, a U.S.-educated economist who leads a radical wing of the opposition, defied Capriles’ moderate approach to organize street resistance against Maduro – and has been jailed for leading the protests.
That has made him a ‘martyr’ for some in the opposition and wrong-footed Capriles, who backs the protesters’ grievances but not their tactics as he seeks to preserve his own standing as the main anti-Maduro figurehead.

Ewan Robertson: A List of Fatalities After a Month of Political Violence in Venezuela (Venezuelanalysis)

Writing on 13 March, a total of at least 30 people have died in connection with the opposition protests, street barricades and unrest which have been occurring since 12 February in Venezuela.

Tim Arango: Recordings, Posted Online, Rattle Officials in Turkey (New York Times)

If any meeting was meant to be private, it was this one: the top spy chief, the foreign minister and his deputy, and a top military official discussing secret plans for possible military action in Syria…
On Thursday morning, a recording was posted on YouTube in which the officials were heard discussing a plot to establish a justification for military strikes in Syria.

Jack Moore: Turkey YouTube Ban: Full Transcript of Leaked Syria ‘War’ Conversation Between Erdogan Officials (International Business Times, with an annoying video that starts when opening the page)

Sharif Abdel Kouddous, Nermeen Shaikh, Amy Goodman: Egypt’s Courts Further Repression with Journos on Trial & Mass Death Sentence for Morsi Supporters (Democracy Now)

Egypt is facing international criticism after the largest mass sentencing in its modern history. On Monday, 529 supporters of ousted President Mohamed Morsi were ordered killed over the death of a single police officer in protests last summer. The trial lasted just over two days, with the majority tried in absentia. The exceptionally swift trial and harsh sentences mark a new escalation of the Egyptian military regime’s crackdown on Morsi supporters, which has led to hundreds of deaths and thousands of arrests. In another closely watched trial, Al Jazeera journalists Peter Greste, Baher Mohamed and Mohamed Fahmy have been denied bail after nearly three months in prison. They are accused of belonging to or aiding a terrorist organization.

Kathleen E. McLaughlin: Burma mobs put census in doubt as western aid workers flee violence (Guardian)

Angry Buddhist protesters rampage through streets as country’s first census for 30 years opens up ethnic tensions…
There are more than a million Rohingya in Burma, and 140,000 have lived in camps in Rakhine since ethnic riots and clashes with Buddhists nearly two years ago. They will not be counted as Burmese citizens on the census, nor will they be listed among the 135 officially designated ethnic categories. But the census will acknowledge they exist by allowing an “other” category, allowing people to identify themselves as Rohingya.

פשע מלחמה / Nothing short of a war crime (Haaretz)

Last week, 14-year-old Yusef a-Shawamreh and two of his friends left their village of Deir al-Asal al-Fauqa in the southern West Bank to pick plants on his family’s field, west of the separation fence…
After crossing the fence, the boys heard three or four gunshots. The firing came from an IDF ambush, a few dozen meters away. … [T]he shots had been fired with no warning.
A-Shawamreh was wounded in the hip and fell to the ground bleeding. He managed to crawl to the road, but then the soldiers emerged from their hiding place.
The soldiers arrested the other two boys and a-Shawamreh received preliminary medical treatment. A military ambulance arrived only half an hour later, although an IDF camp is located a mere two kilometers away. Meanwhile, the boy bled to death.

Ken Loach: Labour is part of the problem, not the solution (Guardian)

There’s too much to read …
Glenn Greenwald: Obama’s New NSA Proposal and Democratic Partisan Hackery (Intercept)
Marcy Wheeler: The White House Has Been Covering Up the Presidency’s Role in Torture for Years (Intercept)
Glenn Greenwald: Foreign Officials In the Dark About Their Own Spy Agencies’ Cooperation with NSA (Intercept)

One of the more bizarre aspects of the last nine months of Snowden revelations is how top political officials in other nations have repeatedly demonstrated, or even explicitly claimed, wholesale ignorance about their nations’ cooperation with the National Security Agency, as well as their own spying activities. This has led to widespread speculation about the authenticity of these reactions: Were these top officials truly unaware, or were they pretending to be, in order to distance themselves from surveillance operations that became highly controversial once disclosed?

Turkey | Guatemala | Egypt | Guantánamo | GM crops

Pepe Escobar: Erdoğan risks the ‘must go’ path (Asia Times)
M. K. Bhadrakumar: Petty burglars of the Malacca Strait (Asia Times)

“What’s in a name?” – one might ask. There could be a lot. In Washington on the fateful day of May 20, President Barack Obama decided to use the name Myanmar to refer to what he had insisted on calling “Burma”. The geopolitics of the Indian Ocean will never be the same again. White House spokesman Jay Carney explained that the United States would be henceforth “as a courtesy in appropriate setting, more frequently using the name Myanmar”. Diplomacy is indeed largely courtesy and the “appropriate setting” was the visit by President Thein Sein to the White House, which signified the formal launch of the US rebalancing strategy to the west of Malacca Strait.

Sibylla Brodzinsky, Jonathan Watts: Former Guatemalan dictator convicted of genocide and jailed for 80 years (Guardian)

Efraín Ríos Montt held to account for abuses in campaign that killed an estimated 200,000 and led to 45,000 disappearances

Louisa Loveluck: Egypt court rules upper house of parliament elected illegally (Guardian)
Samir Naji al-Hasan Moqbel: Gitmo Is Killing Me (New York Times)

I’ve been detained at Guantánamo for 11 years and three months. I have never been charged with any crime. I have never received a trial. … I will never forget the first time they passed the feeding tube up my nose. I can’t describe how painful it is to be force-fed this way. … I just hope that because of the pain we are suffering, the eyes of the world will once again look to Guantánamo before it is too late.

Paul Harris: Guantánamo Bay hunger strike worsens (Guardian)

President vowed last week to close controversial detention camp but 103 prisoners remain on strike, with many being force-fed

Detainees on hunger strike in Guantánamo Bay: An open letter to my military doctor (Guardian)

[Y]ou are in violation of the ethics of your profession, as the American Medical Association and the World Medical Association have made clear. … I cannot trust your advice, because you are responsible to your superior military officers who require you to treat me by means unacceptible to me, and you put your duty to them above your duty to me as a doctor. … I have some sympathy for your impossible position. Whether you continue in the military or return to civilian practice, you will have to live with what you have done and not done here at Guantanamo for the rest of your life. Going forward, you can make a difference. You can choose to stop actively contributing to the abusive conditions I am currently enduring.

Gary Younge: Hypocrisy lies at the heart of the trial of Bradley Manning (Guardian)

It is an outrage that soldiers who killed innocents remain free but the man who exposed them is accused of ‘aiding the enemy’

Suzanne Goldenberg: Asia curbs US imports of wheat after genetically modified sample found (Guardian)

GM variants are now the norm in US corn, cotton and soybeans, making up virtually all of the soybean crop last year. By some estimates, about two-thirds of US processed foods contain some GM ingredients.