Gavan McCormack: North Korea and a Rules-Based Order for the Indo-Pacific, East Asia, and the World (Japan Focus)

Two main sets of proposals now rest on global tables: that by the US and its allies, notably Japan and Australia, demanding North Korean submission as precondition for any negotiation, and the call for freeze and negotiations, such as proposed by China and Russia and supported by other states such as Germany and France and by prominent US figures such as former Defense Secretary William Perry.
As China’s Foreign Minister put it in May 2017, the latter proposal entails

“that, as a first step, the DPRK suspend its missile and nuclear activities in exchange for a halting of large-scale US-ROK military exercises. This ‘double suspension’ approach can help us break out of the security dilemma and bring the parties back to the table.”

North Korea for at least the past several decades has sought talks on resolving its highly abnormal situation. What it wants, according to Jimmy Carter, ex-president and presidential envoy who negotiated a way through the crisis of 1994, is a peace treaty with the United States and an end to economic sanctions…
The stance of the US and its allies in threatening, denouncing, and refusing to negotiate is patently illegal and criminal…
In a remarkable 6-7 September 2017 meeting that passed almost unnoticed in the Western and Japanese media, the two Koreas (South and North), Japan, Russia and China met at Vladivostok under the auspices of the Eastern Economic Forum (EEF), a relatively new (established in 2015) Russian initiative to promote the development of its Eastern zone. The five states (absent only the United States) of the Beijing Six Party Conference proceeded in low key, consensual mode, to endorse (or in the case of North Korea at least “not oppose”) what has been called the Putin plan. It dealt essentially with economic cooperation, railways and pipelines, but its implications are far from mundane.
The Vladivostok parties looked to open multiple lines of cooperation and communication across North Korea, extending Siberian oil and gas pipelines to the two Koreas and Japan and opening railways and ports linking them across Siberia to China, the Middle East, South Asia, and Europe. South Korea’s President Moon projected his understanding of this within the frame of what he called “Northeast Asia-plus,” which involved construction of “nine bridges of cooperation” (gas, railroads, ports, electricity, a northern sea route, shipbuilding, jobs, agriculture, and fisheries), embedding the Korean peninsula in the frame of the Russian and Chinese-led BRICS, the Belt and Road Initiative (BRI) and Shanghai Cooperation Organiziation (SCO) organizations, extending and consolidating those vast, China- and Russia-centred geo-political and economic groupings.

Joseph Essertier: North Korea: The Deafening Silence around the Moon-Putin Plan (CounterPunch)

As the world hurtles ever closer to war in Asia, there is an Alice-in-Wonderland media narrative that has North Korea as the aggressor that must be controlled and punished at all costs. And in the face of that narrative, the deafening silence of intellectuals is starting to bear a remarkable resemblance to appeasement…
One could be forgiven for not having heard of it since it disrupts the standard “North-Korea-Problem” narrative, but there is a realistic solution to the crisis that liberal and progressive appeasers are keeping silent about. This is the Moon-Putin Plan unveiled in September in Vladivostok. President Moon outlined it as nine “bridges” of cooperation linking South Korea to Russia via North Korea—“gas, railroads, ports, electricity, a northern sea route, shipbuilding, jobs, agriculture, and fisheries.” Siberian oil and gas pipelines would be extended to Korea, both North and South, as well as to Japan. Both Koreas would be linked up with the vast rail networks of Beijing’s Belt and Road Initiative, including high-speed rail, and the Eurasian Economic Union, which includes the Trans-Siberian Railway. In the words of Gavan McCormack, “North Korea would accept the security guarantee of the five (Japan included), refrain from any further nuclear or missile testing, shelve (‘freeze’) its existing programs and gain its longed for ‘normalization’ in the form of incorporation in regional groupings, the lifting of sanctions and normalized relations with its neighbour states, without surrender.” This Moon-Putin Plan has the potential to satisfy all the states involved, possibly even the US. One would think, “Done deal. Problem solved.” Yet mainstream journalists in Japan and English-speaking countries have largely ignored it, and even very few non-mainstream journalists have covered it.

Bruce Cumings, Nermeen Shaykh, Amy Goodman: North and South Korean Leaders Agree to Direct Negotiations as Trump Provokes Kim Jong-un on Twitter (Democracy Now)

[T]he tone of Kim Jong-un’s statement … was very conciliatory toward the South and was followed up by a high official who was even more conciliatory, talking about North Korea’s hopes for the South Korean Winter Olympics going well. And, of course, Kim Jong-un offered to send a delegation to the Olympics…
And secondly, he said something that North Korean officials have been saying for the last six months without a lot of attention. And that is words to the effect that their nuclear program is nearly completed, which would mean they don’t have to test so much…
[T]he Trump administration was very opposed to President Moon Jae-in of South Korea’s proposals for talks… [T]he Trump administration position is that there can be no talks until North Korea commits to denuclearization…
U.N. Ambassador Nikki Haley said Tuesday …: “We won’t take any of the talks seriously if they don’t do something to ban all nuclear weapons in North Korea. We consider this to be a very reckless regime. We don’t think we need a Band-Aid, and we don’t think we need to smile and take a picture. We think that we need to have them stop nuclear weapons, and they need to stop it now. So, North Korea can talk with anyone they want, but the U.S. is not going to recognize it or acknowledge it, until they agree to ban the nuclear weapons that they have.”

Wada Haruki: The US-North Korean Crisis and Japan’s Responsibility (Japan Focus)
Andrew Salmon: South, North Korea to talk after military drills postponed (Asia Times)

North Korea has agreed to South Korea’s proposal for “high-level” inter-Korean talks at the truce village of Panmunjeom next Tuesday, Jan. 9, as a series of rapid rapprochement moves ahead of the Winter Olympics gain momentum.
The North Korean acceptance was delivered early Friday, the morning after South Korean President Moon Jae-in and US President Donald Trump agreed, during a late-night (Korea-time) phone call Thursday to suspend military exercises during the Winter Olympics, set for Pyeonchang, South Korea, in February.

Andrew Salmon: North Korea offers ‘gift’ as inter-Korean talks start in DMZ (Asia Times)

The discussions are the first high-level negotiations between the Koreas since 2015, and the first of South Korea’s Moon Jae-in administration, which took power in May 2017.
The talks follow North Korean leader Kim Jong-un’s customary New Year’s message, during which he said that his state would “mass-produce” nuclear weapons and ballistic missiles, but also offered a surprise olive branch – suggesting immediate inter-Korean talks, and wishing the South a successful Olympics.

Catalonia | Jerusalem | Myanmar | Zimbabwe

The post-fascist government in Madrid dissolved the Catalan parliament and jailed Catalan leaders, a speaker of the ruling conservative party suggested that the Catalan president Puigdemont could or should be executed, but once again, the people of Catalonia voted for independence. Maybe the regime will now ban the pro-independence parties and dissolve the parliament once more, jail some more people, ban the parties who got an absolute majority?

Sam Jones, Stephen Burgen: Catalan pro-independence parties keep their majority in snap poll (Guardian)

Catalan pro-independence parties have held their absolute majority in snap regional elections, dealing a severe blow to the Spanish government, which had called the polls in the hope of heading off the secessionist push.
The deposed Catalan president, Carles Puigdemont, described the result as a “a slap to the face” to the Spanish prime minister, Mariano Rajoy.
The three separatist parties won a total of 70 seats in the 135-seat regional parliament even though the centre-right, pro-unionist Citizens party was the single biggest winner, taking 37 seats.
Between them, the three parties will have enough seats to reassemble the parliamentary majority that put them into office after the 2015 elections if they can agree a new coalition…
Spain’s ruling People’s party … won three seats – eight fewer than in 2015…
Thursday’s snap election was called by the Spanish prime minister, Mariano Rajoy, in October after he used article 155 of the constitution to take control of Catalonia and sack its government over its unilateral referendum and subsequent declaration of independence.
The vote, which pitted secessionists against unionists, attracted a record turnout of more than 80%, dispelling fears that holding the election on a weekday rather than the usual Sunday would hit turnout.
Puigdemont had been campaigning from Belgium after fleeing to Brussels on the grounds that he would not receive a fair trial in Spain over possible charges of rebellion, sedition and misuse of public funds.
His former vice-president, Oriol Junqeras, leader of the ERC, is in prison along with two prominent pro-independence leaders.

Resultats 21-D (El punt avui)
Catalonia election: full results (Guardian)

On Thursday night pro-independence parties secured a renewed majority in the Catalan parliament. Although the pro-union centre-right Citizens were the largest party, the result is a blow to Spanish prime minister Mariano Rajoy’s hopes of defusing the constitutional crisis in Catalonia.
In 2015, ERC ran as part of the Junts pel Sí (Together for Yes) coalition. This time they ran on their own ticket, led by Oriol Junqueras, the sacked deputy president who is currently in prison; the remainder of the coalition campaigned as Junts per Catalunya (Together for Catalonia), led by Carles Puigdemont, the sacked president who is in self-imposed exile in Belgium.

Peter Beaumont: US outnumbered 14 to 1 as it vetoes UN vote on status of Jerusalem (Guardian)

A UN security council resolution calling for the withdrawal of Donald Trump’s recognition of Jerusalem as Israel’s capital has been backed by every council member except the US, which used its veto.
The unanimity of the rest of the council was a stark rebuke to the Trump administration over its unilateral move earlier this month, which upended decades of international consensus…
The resolution was denounced in furious language by the US ambassador to the UN, Nikki Haley, who described it as “an insult” that would not be forgotten. “The United States will not be told by any country where we can put our embassy,” she said.

Peter Beaumont: US will ‘take names of those who vote to reject Jerusalem recognition’ (Guardian)

The US ambassador to the United Nations, Nikki Haley, has warned UN members she will be “taking names” of countries that vote to reject Donald Trump’s recognition of Jerusalem as the capital of Israel.
In a letter seen by the Guardian, Haley told countries – including European delegations – that she will report back to the US president with the names of those who support a draft resolution rejecting the US move at the UN general assembly on Thursday, adding that Trump took the issue personally.

Peter Beaumont: UN votes resoundingly to reject Trump’s recognition of Jerusalem as capital (Guardian)

The United Nations general assembly has delivered a stinging rebuke to Donald Trump, voting by a huge majority to reject his unilateral recognition of Jerusalem as Israel’s capital.
The vote came after a redoubling of threats by Nikki Haley, the US ambassador to the UN, who said that Washington would remember which countries “disrespected” America by voting against it…
But only nine states – including the United States and Israel –voted against the resolution. The other countries which supported Washington were Togo, Micronesia, Nauru, Palau, Marshall Islands, Guatemala and Honduras.

Karen McVeigh: ‘A travesty’: Trump censured over UN Jerusalem vote comments (Guardian)

Donald Trump’s threat to withhold US aid from countries voting in favour of a UN general assembly resolution rejecting his recognition of Jerusalem as Israel’s capital has been described as a “travesty” by experts.
On Thursday, an emergency session of the UN general assembly voted 128-9 against Trump’s declaration, pronouncing it “null and void”. There were a total of 35 abstentions.

Patrick Wintour: <a href="https://www.theguardian.com/world/2017/dec/21/trumps-bullying-and-bluster-on-jerusalem-

is-bad-news-for-the-un”>Trump’s bullying and bluster on Jerusalem is bad news for the UN (Guardian)
“Strong, sovereign nations let diverse countries with different values, different cultures and different dreams not just coexist but work side by side on the basis of mutual respect,” Donald Trump said in his first speech to the UN general assembly, in September, drawing sighs of relief.
Three months later, those same diverse nations were warned by the US president’s UN ambassador, Nikki Haley, that she would take their names if they failed at the UN to support the US decision to move its embassy to Jerusalem and recognise the city as the capital of Israel. The era of mutual respect was short-lived.

David Scott Mathieson: Suu Kyi takes a populist, paranoid turn (Asia Times)

Myanmar’s increasingly internationally maligned de-facto leader Aung San Suu Kyi signaled a neo-populist turn in her speech on Monday to the Asia Europe Foreign Ministers (ASEM) meeting held at Naypyitaw…
Without mentioning the exodus of over 600,000 Rohingya Muslims from Myanmar’s Rakhine state since the August 25 attacks by the Arakan Rohingya Salvation Front (ARSA) sparked a harsh security force response, Suu Kyi conflated illegal migration with terrorism, a core justification of the military’s abusive treatment of the minority.

Yash Tandon: Robert Mugabe: A political epitaph (Pambazuka)

He is an emblematic, historical figure. He is a giant, whose boot steps inaugurated a revolutionary era in the early years – boots that, sadly, became too heavy for him, and too painful for the ordinary people for whose liberation he had fought.

David Seddon: Zimbabwe: Popular protest, social movements and class struggle (Pambazuka)

The ordinary people of Zimbabwe, who have experienced decades of repression and hardship, are rejoicing and are optimistic following the dramatic removal of Robert Mugabe from power. But very soon there will be a renewed struggle for the future of Zimbabwe. And the outlook remains very uncertain.

Cameron Doudu: Oh Comrade Bob, did it have to come to this? (Pambazuka)

As Frantz Fanon had prophesied, President Mugabe was impelled by his associates to become chairman of the business entity known as Zimbabwe. There were super-shareholders in that enterprise. In-fighting between the various groups with bank notes hidden in their revolutionary berets led to disillusionment and even rebellion.

Theogene Rudasingwa: Mugabe fall an indictment of Africa’s ruling elite (Pambazuka)

Robert Mugabe belongs to the generation of Africans who fought for Africa’s self-determination only to finally succumb to the selfish pursuit of power that has left a country with tremendous opportunity on its knees.But he is not the only big man who has betrayed the aspirations of African peoples for authentic peace, prosperity, unity and healing.

Grant Newsham: Coup in Zimbabwe: A win-win for China – for now (Asia Times)

Did Beijing give the go-ahead to remove Zimbabwe President Robert Mugabe? Nobody is saying. But it is suspicious that Zimbabwe’s army chief General Chiwenga visited China a few days before he moved against Mugabe. Presumably, nobody in Beijing told him ‘no.’
China has huge investments in Zimbabwe – including tobacco, diamonds, and power generation – and is by far the country’s largest benefactor.

Libya | South Korea | NSA

Pamela sent this link:
Robert Newman: There is no population explosion on this planet (Guardian)

Yoav sent this link:
Patrick R. Keefe: Buried Secrets (New Yorker)

How an Israeli billionaire wrested control of one of Africa’s biggest prizes

General Võ Nguyên Giáp has passed away:
Chris Ray: Giap: the General Who Defeated the US in Vietnam (CounterPunch)

Chris Stephen, Abdalle Ahmed, David Smith: Libya demands explanation for US ‘kidnapping’ of al-Qaida leader al-Liby (Guardian)

Libya has demanded an explanation for the “kidnapping” of one of its citizens by American special forces, hours after a separate US military raid on a terrorist target in Somalia ended in apparent failure and retreat.

Spencer Ackerman: White House defends al-Qaida capture in Libya as US ponders legal options (Guardian)

AP: South Korean lawmaker charged with plot to overthrow government (Guardian)

South Korean prosecutors have charged a leftwing lawmaker with plotting a pro-North Korea rebellion to overthrow the government. …
(MP) Lee (Seok-ki) argues that the charges were fabricated to divert criticism from allegations that the national spy agency smeared the main opposition candidate in the last election.

Reuters: South Korean troops kill man trying to swim to North (Guardian)

South Korean troops have shot dead a man who attempted to enter North Korea by floating across a river that runs near the heavily militarised border, according to an official in Seoul.

Shobhan Saxena: NSA planted bugs at Indian missions in D.C., U.N. (Hindu)

Two of the most important nerve-centres of Indian diplomacy outside the country — the Permanent Mission of India at the United Nations and the embassy in Washington, DC — were targets of such sophisticated bugs implanted by the U.S. National Security Agency (NSA) that entire computer hard disks might have been copied by the American agency. The U.N. Mission building in New York and the embassy premises, including its annex, in Washington were on a top-secret list of countries and missions — many of them European allies of the U.S. — chosen for intensive spying.

Lizzy Davies: Pope condemns idolatry of cash in capitalism (Guardian)

Pope Francis has called for a global economic system that puts people and not “an idol called money” at its heart, drawing on the hardship of his immigrant family as he sympathised with unemployed workers in a part of Italy that has suffered greatly from the recession.

Lisa O’Carroll: Seymour Hersh on Obama, NSA and the ‘pathetic’ American media (Guardian)

Seymour Hersh has got some extreme ideas on how to fix journalism – close down the news bureaus of NBC and ABC, sack 90% of editors in publishing and get back to the fundamental job of journalists which, he says, is to be an outsider.
It doesn’t take much to fire up Hersh, the investigative journalist who has been the nemesis of US presidents since the 1960s and who was once described by the Republican party as “the closest thing American journalism has to a terrorist”.
He is angry about the timidity of journalists in America, their failure to challenge the White House and be an unpopular messenger of truth.

Satoko Oka Norimatsu, Narusawa Muneo: An Interview With Oliver Stone and Peter Kuznick (CounterPunch)

Syria | Egypt | Korea

Vladimir Putin: A Plea for Caution From Russia (New York Times)

The law is still the law, and we must follow it whether we like it or not. Under current international law, force is permitted only in self-defense or by the decision of the Security Council. Anything else is unacceptable under the United Nations Charter and would constitute an act of aggression…
No one doubts that poison gas was used in Syria. But there is every reason to believe it was used not by the Syrian Army, but by opposition forces, to provoke intervention by their powerful foreign patrons, who would be siding with the fundamentalists.

Andrew Levine: From Russia Without Love (CounterPunch)

The use of chemical nerve-agents in combat is banned under international law, as well it should be. The many horrific weapons that have come on line since the First World War – among others, bombers, cruise missiles, chemicals that burn human skin, depleted uranium shells and, of course, weaponized drones should be banned as well…
There is, it seems, good, but inconclusive, evidence that the Syrian government did indeed violate the chemical warfare ban. There is also evidence that some of the rebel groups fighting the government did too. It bears notice that they have much to gain if the world, or at least Americans and Europeans, think that their hands are clean, and that Assad is guilty as sin.
In any case, Obama’s plan was to launch an unprovoked and unsanctioned war against Syria, a sovereign state.
According to the 1945 Nuremburg Charter, initiating a war of aggression is “the supreme international crime, differing only from other war crimes in that it contains within itself the accumulated evil of the whole.”
In other words, Obama wanted to punish a possible war crime by committing a far graver one.

Igor Sutyagin: Assessing Syrian Chemical Weapons Use (Royal United Services Institute / YouTube)
Thomas Pierret: External support and the Syrian insurgency (Middle East Channel / Foreign Policy)

Would arming moderate Syrian rebels reduce the influence of their radical counterparts? This question, which has been extensively debated by proponents and opponents of indirect military involvement in Syria, has perhaps become obsolete: backing the most pragmatic insurgent groups is what Saudi Arabia has been doing for months now, and it seems to work… Saudi Arabia does not only despise the Muslim Brothers, but political Islamic movements and mass politics in general, which it sees as a threat to its model of absolute patrimonial monarchy. Saudi policies are not driven by religious doctrines, as is too often assumed, but by concerns for the stability of the kingdom, which translate into support for political forces that are inherently conservative or hostile to Islamist movements: these forces can be apolitical Salafis aligned with the Saudi religious establishment (the Ahl al-Athar Battalions in Syria, funded from Kuwait by the quietist Heritage Association), but first and foremost non-religious forces such as the secular intellectuals and tribal chiefs Riyadh has recently backed against the Muslim Brothers and Qatar within the Syrian National Coalition. Of course, in Syria like in Egypt, these politically conservative forces also include the military. Riyadh has been the driving force behind several initiatives aimed at organizing the insurgency under the aegis of defector officers rather than of the civilian volunteers that run most Islamist groups.

Mohammed Al Attar: Al Raqqa: The reality of the military brigades, the administration of the liberated city and the revolutions to come (al-Ǧumhūrīya)
Paul Joseph Watson: Rebels Admit Responsibility for Chemical Weapons Attack (Infowars)

Syrian rebels in the Damascus suburb of Ghouta have admitted to Associated Press correspondent Dale Gavlak that they were responsible for last week’s chemical weapons incident which western powers have blamed on Bashar Al-Assad’s forces, revealing that the casualties were the result of an accident caused by rebels mishandling chemical weapons provided to them by Saudi Arabia.

Dave Lindorff: Obama’s Obscenities on Syria (CounterPunch)
Andre Vltchek: Syria, Prepare Yourself for Rape! (CounterPunch)
Wilhelm Langthaler: Syria: No to the US attack and continued military pressure (Anti-Imperialist Camp)

We are relieved that the imminent threat of an US aggression on Syria is preliminarily put on hold and a diplomatic channel has been opened up. But the US military power projection remains in place and the bloody civil war continues. We therefore need to continue and step up the campaign against foreign intervention and especially the western one. But at the same time we ought to help to pave the way for a transitional government fulfilling the demands of the original democratic popular movement.

Hannes Hofbauer: Wer hat hier wen ausgetrickst? (Neues Deutschland)

Der jetzt in New York vorgelegte UN-Bericht beweist: In Syrien wurde Giftgas eingesetzt. Doch von wem? Der Streit zwischen Russland und den USA über die Schuldfrage überschattet inzwischen ihre Genfer Vereinbarung. Hat die USA einen Masterplan in Sachen Syrien?

Gregory Elich: The Return of Repression. Political Firestorm in South Korea (CounterPunch)

Actions by South Korea’s National Intelligence Service (NIS) have generated a political furor that is growing by the day, pitting the ruling New Frontier Party against the main opposition Democratic Party and threatening the existence of the Unified Progressive Party.
The NIS intervened in the election of December 2012 in an endeavor to bring victory to conservative candidates. NIS director Won Sei-hoon ordered the agency’s psychological warfare division to launch a campaign to discredit liberal and left political candidates.

Reza Fiyouzat, Shamus Cooke: The Egyptian Revolution’s Next Barrier (CounterPunch)

When the Egyptian army first began its offensive against the Muslim Brotherhood many speculated that such an assault would likely be extended to the same revolutionaries who demanded — in massive demonstrations — that President Morsi be evicted from office.
There have been several signs that this has already begun, though most notably the government repression against striking workers at Suez Steel and the Scimitar Petroleum company, where the striking workers were accused of being influenced by the Muslim Brotherhood…
After the fall of Mubarak, the MB hurried to join the regime that had propped up Mubarak — with all its policies, security apparatus linked to the U.S. government, with all its ties to the neoliberal agenda of the imperialists of the International Monetary Fund (IMF) and western banks — in short, the MB completely immersed itself with the old regime, while slapping on a thick coat of Islamist veneer to make the surface seem “Islamic” to the MB rank and file. The rest of Egyptian society was completely ignored, revolution be damned.
Through a farce of an electoral system the MB joined the military regime — an alliance deemed necessary at the time by the ruling elites, though with clear internal contradictions — ensuring that the two maintained joint control while working to coerce the revolution into submission. All the while the broader social and economic discontent that led to the revolution would be — as it was under Mubarak — completely neglected, and even denied any legitimacy.

Alain Gresh: Egypte, chroniques d’une contre-révolution (Monde diplomatique)
Sonia Ryang: Reading Volcano Island: In the Sixty-fifth Year of the Jeju 4.3 Uprising (Japan Focus)

Denis Halliday: WHO Refuses to Publish Report on Cancers and Birth Defects in Iraq (Global Research)

The World Health Organisation (WHO) has categorically refused in defiance of its own mandate to share evidence uncovered in Iraq that US military use of Depleted Uranium and other weapons have not only killed many civilians, but continue to result in the birth of deformed babies.

Egypt | Syria | Palestine/Israel | USA

Wael Eskandar: The Muslim Brotherhood’s Militias in Action: A Firsthand Account (Jadaliyya)
Wilhelm Langthaler: Mursi: pharao or revolutionary? (Anti-Imperialist Camp)

Ernesto Cardenal, Samir Amin, etc.: Yes to Democracy, No to Foreign Intervention! ‍‍(MRzine)
Leo Gabriel, Evangelos Pissias, Wilhelm Langthaler, Fernando Romero-Forsthuber: The war in Syria or The threads of a blood drained carpet (LabourNet Austria)

Yinon Cohen, Neve Gordon: Why Abbas’s Bid to the United Nations General Assembly Was Too Little, Too Late (CounterPunch)
Dennis Bernstein: An Interview With Professor Francis Boyle (CounterPunch)

Why the US Threatened to Cut Off Aid to the Palestinians if They Pursued and Were Granted Observer Status at the UN

Chaim Levinson: אז איפה זה בכלל E-1? / What is area E-1, anyway? (Haaretz, via DuckDuckGo and Google)
Leila Farsakh: Palestine refuses to disappear (Monde diplomatique)
Yara Sa’di: Israel’s repression of Palestinian students reached new level during Gaza attack (Electronic Intifada)
Ali Abunimah: Apartheid Lines: Video shows Israeli public bus driver refusing to let Palestinians ride (Electronic Intifada)

Palestinian laborers from the West Bank are members of an occupied population with virtually no rights or protection. They are exploited to do low-paid work in Israel’s apartheid economy, and then subjected to Jim Crow-like discrimination. Unlike Rosa Parks, they are not even given the back of the bus. They can’t ride the bus at all.

Editorial: ייבוש לצורכי נישול / Drying out the Palestinians (Haaretz)

Since the beginning of the year, Israel has destroyed 35 rainwater cisterns used by Palestinian communities, 20 of them in the area of Hebron and the southern Hebron Hills. … Leaving Palestinian communities disconnected from infrastructure, declaring large areas as firing zones and destroying cisterns are part of an intentional policy since the early 1970s. Its goal is to leave as few Palestinians as possible in the majority of the West Bank (today’s Area C, under Israeli civil and military control), to expedite Jewish settlement and thus make it easier to annex these areas to Israel.

Or Kashti: בחירות הם רוצים / In Israel, democracy is delayed for Bedouin (Haaretz, via DuckDuckGo and Google)
Harriet Sherwood: Israeli separation wall threatens world heritage site of Battir’s ancient terraces (Guardian)

Israeli environmentalists and even the state parks authority are backing Palestinian villagers’ attempts to preserve landscape

Amira Hass: ‘You have to demolish them while they’re small’ (Haaretz, via DuckDuckGo and Google)

So Supreme Court President Asher Grunis said shortly before a partially built mosque in the West Bank was pulled down.

William Saletan: Get Real, Israel (Slate)

Renaud Egreteau: Burma’s civil wars (Mondi diplomatique)

Eric Bailey: An Interview With Noam Chomsky on Obama’s Human Rights Record (CounterPunch)
Mark Graham: USAID in Afghanistan (CounterPunch)

Whatever beneficence USAID has doled out over the years has come with a heavy price for Afghans and a heavy price tag for Americans. In fact, USAID is not an aid organization by any common understanding of the term, if by aid we mean helping people who are suffering out of the kindness of our hearts. Instead, USAID functions primarily as an instrument of counterinsurgency and as a pipeline by which public money moves into private hands.

Syria | Palestine/Israel | Greece | Korea

Patrick Seale, Amy Goodman: A Struggle for Regional Supremacy: Syria Conflict Escalates as World Powers Debate Assad’s Future (Democracy Now)
League of Arab States Observer Mission to Syria: Report for the Period from 24 December 2011 to 18 January 2012 (MRzine)
Arab Studies Institute: US Says Russia/China UN Veto “Disgusting”, “Shameful”, “Deplorable”, “a Travesty” … Really? (Information Clearing House)
Eren Buğlalılar: Turkey: The Honduras of the Middle East for a New Contra War (MRzine)

Harriet Sherwood: Israel shackles Palestinian hunger striker (Guardian)

A Palestinian prisoner who has been on hunger strike for more than eight weeks is being kept shackled to a hospital bed by the Israeli authorities, despite warnings that he may be close to death.

Khader Adnan, 33, has been held without charge under “administrative detention” since mid-December. The Israeli military authorities have refused to tell his lawyer what he is accused of or disclose any evidence against him.

Bilal Randeree: Hundreds in Israeli jails join hunger strike (AlJazeera)
Harriet Sherwood: Israel jails Palestinian parliament speaker without trial (Guardian)

Aziz Dweik’s six-month imprisonment is an attempt by Israel to thwart reconciliation between Fatah and Hamas, says his office

Ben White: Equality for Palestinians? Israel won’t have it (Guardian)

Elected representatives of the Palestinian community in Israel face growing harassment by the state, fellow MKs and the media

Mya Guarnieri: Where is the Bedouin Intifada? (CounterPunch)

Inside of Israel, the state seeks to Judaize the Negev (Naqab) desert. This “development” includes last year’s Prawer plan which recommends that Israel relocate some 30,000-40,000 Bedouin citizens, ripping them from their villages and sticking them in impoverished townships, to clear the area for Jewish-only settlements.

Akiva Eldar: Israel’s new peace camp is playing into Hamas’ hands / כניעת ה”אליטות” לנתניהו (Haaretz)

The “elites” enthusiasticly buy into the idea that the Palestinians rejected the “generous offer” that peace-loving Israeli leaders placed at their doorstep – and paid us back in terror. Who remembers, for example, that former Prime Minister Ehud Olmert wrote in the New York Times last September that Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas had not rejected his plan. So what if as far back as 10 years ago, the Palestinians adopted the Arab peace plan, which not only recognizes Israel in the 1967 borders, but also offers normal relations with all Arab countries. We only believe Arabs that call for Israel’s destruction.
ה”אליטות” קונות בשקיקה את הגרסה שהפלסטינים דחו את כל “ההצעות הנדיבות” שמנהיגים ישראלים שוחרי שלום הניחו לפתחם, וגמלו לנו בטרור. מי זוכר, למשל, שאהוד אולמרט כתב ב”ניו יורק טיימס” בספטמבר אשתקד, שאבו מאזן לא דחה את המתווה שלו? אז מה אם הפלסטינים אימצו כבר לפני עשר שנים את יוזמת השלום הערבית, שלא רק מכירה בישראל בגבולות 67′, אלא מציעה לה יחסים נורמליים עם כל מדינות ערב? אנחנו מאמינים רק לערבים שקוראים להשמדת ישראל.

Mike Whitney: A Death Sentence for Greece (CounterPunch)
Stathis Kouvelakis: The Greek cauldron (New Left Review)

Bruce Cumings: North Korea’s dynastic succession / Die drei Körper der Kims (Monde diplomatique)

USA/Canada | Greece | Libya | Syria | Egypt | Iran | Palestine

Adam Gabbatt: Thousands attend protests in Oakland (Guardian)
Dennis Bernstein: What the Cops Really Did in Oakland (CounterPunch)
Steve Stallone: Scenes From Oakland’s General Strike (CounterPunch)
Nikolas Kozloff: From Radical Past to Radical Present: Oakland’s General Strike (CounterPunch)
Vijay Prashad: Reform, My Ass: Mind the Gap (CounterPunch)

Between the sentiment at the Occupy encampments and the liberal wing of the Democratic establishment lies a moat unbridgeable even by the tallest trees. Between Occupy and the Republicans lies a universe.
What seems reasonable to the Democratic leadership in Washington and to their far-flung minions in the districts is a tepid negotiation with finance capital. The corridors of the White House might as well be renamed Wall Street: apart from the Banks’ errand-boy Treasury Secretary Timothy Geithner, there is the Chief of Staff, Bill Daley (previously on J. P. Morgan Chase’s Executive Committee where he was in charge of Corporate Responsibility) and there is newly hired Senior Campaign Advisor Broderick Johnson (recently lobbyist for Bank of America, Fannie Mae, J. P. Morgan Chase, and Keystone XL). These are the scum of Wall Street and Washington, emblems of the pay-to-play system and of Financial Power. To them, the Occupy movement is an irritant, and a potential liability come election time. (…)
The debate around demands bewilders. As Ruth Jennison and Jordana Rosenberg put it at Lenin’s Tomb, “What, after all, is a demand? That we liberate New York, or Oakland, or Cleveland from the grips of financiers? That we must have returned what was stolen from us and given to the banks and to the 1%? That we deserve to live a life free of police repression and violence? That we want an end to imperialist projects and wars, and the restoration of social services and education? If any of our hesitation to demand comes from a fear of losing, let’s look around us and see how strong we are. For the first time in a lifetime.” After the remarkable General Strike in Oakland, that strength is now before us. It is true that struggles like these do not follow a text-book, and that it is in the fight that we learn how to fight, as Rosa Luxemburg put it a century ago. And it is also the true that in the heat of these struggles, slogans emerge that germinate programs and agendas. It is time for us to agglomerate these and throw them in the face of Order.

David Harvey: The Party of Wall Street Meets its Nemesis (Verso)

The Party of Wall Street has ruled unchallenged in the United States for far too long. It has totally (as opposed to partially) dominated the policies of Presidents over at least four decades (if not longer), no matter whether individual Presidents have been its willing agents or not. It has legally corrupted Congress via the craven dependency of politicians in both parties upon its raw money power and access to the mainstream media that it controls. Thanks to the appointments made and approved by Presidents and Congress, the Party of Wall Street dominates much of the state apparatus as well as the judiciary, in particular the Supreme Court, whose partisan judgments increasingly favor venal money interests, in spheres as diverse as electoral, labor, environmental and contract law. (…)
Americans believe in equality. Polling data show they believe (no matter what their general political allegiances might be) that the top twenty percent of the population might be justified in claiming thirty percent of the total wealth. That the top twenty percent now control 85 percent of the wealth is unacceptable. That most of that is controlled by the top one percent is totally unacceptable. What the Occupy Wall Street movement proposes is that we, the people of the United States, commit to a reversal of that level of inequality, not only of wealth and income, but even more importantly of the political power that such a disparity confers. The people of the United States are rightly proud of the their democracy, but it has always been endangered by capital’s corruptive power. Now that it is dominated by that power, the time is surely nigh, as Jefferson long ago suggested would be necessary, to make another American revolution: one based on social justice, equality and a caring and thoughtful approach to the relation to nature.

Sean Antrim: The October Revolution (Mainlander / rabble.ca)
Paul Weinberg: The Face of Imperialism: An interview with Michael Parenti (rabble.ca)

Paul Craig Roberts: A Farce and a Sham: On Western Democracy (CounterPunch)

Aijaz Ahmad: Libya recolonised (Frontline)

No credible evidence has ever emerged to support Obama’s claim that a massacre (of up to 100,000) was imminent in Benghazi, and no massacres ensued in the rebellious cities and towns that Qaddafi’s troops did occupy in the earlier stages of the fighting. On the contrary, there is incontrovertible evidence of massacres at the hands of NATO’s mercenaries. Neighbouring countries, such as Niger, Mali and Chad, have reported the eviction of some three lakh* black African residents from Libya as NATO’s local allies and clients rolled on towards Tripoli under the devastating shield of NATO’s own 40,000-plus bombings over large parts of Libya. Together with these mass evictions of workers and refugees from neighbouring countries – whom the Qaddafi regime had welcomed to make up for labour shortages in an expanding economy – there are also credible reports of lynchings and massacres of black Libyans themselves. The scale of these depredations is yet undetermined but it is already clear that upwards of 50,000 have died as a result of the war unleashed by NATO with the collusion of the Security Council, and half a million or more have been rendered homeless, mostly at the hands of NATO-armed “rebels” who have now been appointed as the new government of the country. Neither the Security Council nor NATO commanders nor, indeed, President Obama – the first black President in the history of the U.S. and himself the son of a Kenyan father – has seen it fit to take up the “responsibility to protect” these hapless people, most of them black Africans, even though several heads of African states have protested, including the very pro-U.S. President of Nigeria.

* one lakh (lākh लाख) = 100,000
Vijay Prashad: Ruthless theatre (Frontline)

With the fall of Tripoli and the execution of Qaddafi at a small cost to the NATO states themselves, new armed adventures have commenced across Africa: more drone attacks in Somalia, U.S. special forces in Uganda, and a green light to the Kenyan armed forces to enter Somalia. The A.U. remains prone. It is likely that given a reasonable interval, the U.S. will ask the new Libyan authorities for access to land to build a base and bring the U.S. Africa Command (AFRICOM) to the continent (it is currently based in Stuttgart, Germany, since no African country has welcomed it). These developments are buoyed on the back of the Libyan model of intervention – minimal, but deadly NATO and U.S. armed attacks, with proxy forces given licence to act as they wish.

Franklin Lamb: Libya’s Liberation Front Organizing in the Sahel (CounterPunch)

John Cherian: Next, Syria (Frontline)

Jack Shenker: Egyptian activist Alaa Abd El Fattah accuses army of hijacking revolution (Guardian)
Call-Out for Solidarity with Egypt: Defend the Revolution (MRzine)
Eric Walberg: Topple Their Debts: Egypt and the IMF (CounterPunch)

Mark Weisbrot: Obama prepara guerra com Irã (Folha de São Paulo / CEPR) / Obama Administration Escalates Confrontation With Iran: Why? (Center for Economic and Policy Research)
Ewen MacAskill, Harriet Sherwood: Is the US heading for war with Iran? (Guardian)
Nick Hopkins: UK military steps up plans for Iran attack amid fresh nuclear fears (Guardian)

Robert Fantina: A Tale of Three Countries: The US, UNESCO and Palestine (CounterPunch)

It is telling that, despite the warning in advance of the vote that the U.S., which provides 22% of Unesco funding, would withdraw all funding, 107 member nations voted to accept Palestine (14 opposed and 52 abstained). Despite clear international consensus, the U.S. and 13 other nations, including, of course, Israel, attempt to buck the trend.

Medea Benjamin, Robert Naiman: Challenging the Blockade: Jailed for Sailing to Gaza (CounterPunch)

Binoy Kampmark: The Next Phase: Extraditing Assange (CounterPunch)

Palestine | Islamophobia | West Bengal | Occupy Wall Street | Media | Steve Jobs | Egypt | Syria | Britain | US elections | EU | China

This is what we’ve been discussing over the past several weeks:


Ilan Pappe: At the UN, the funeral of the two-state solution (Electronic Intifada)
James Ball: Palestinians: we are already recognised as a state by two-thirds of the globe (Guardian)

The Palestinian president, Mahmoud Abbas, is pressing forward with plans to formally request UN membership this Friday, despite attempts at a diplomatic compromise by many western states and a US pledge to veto the membership bid. Raising Palestine to full statehood would need to pass the UN security council – where it is subject to veto – and then a vote at the general assembly, comprising all 193 UN member states.

However, the general assembly can raise Palestine’s status from “permanent observer” to “non-member observer state”, a largely symbolic vote, without security council approval. …

The countries that recognise Palestine comprise around 5.5bn of the world’s population of 7bn – more than 75% – but based on World Bank GDP figures make up less than 10% of the world’s economy, highlighting the global rift on what remains a highly contentious topic.

Editorial: A Palestinian state is a moral right (Observer)
Noam Chayut: Israeli occupation is neither moral nor legitimate (Independent)
Zvi Bar’el: U.S. should recognize Palestinian state / ככה בונים מדינה (Ha’aretz)
Chris McGreal: Palestinian statehood: plan emerges to avoid UN showdown (Guardian)
Raoul Rigault, Mustafa Barghouti: »Bedeutung der nationalen Einheit nicht unterschätzen« (junge Welt)
Mikaela Levin: Expert UN Panel Declares Israeli Blockade of Gaza Illegal (Alternative Information Center)

Two weeks after a team of politicians especially chosen by the UN General Secretary declared legal the Israeli blockade on the Gaza Strip and legitimate the deadly attack on the first Freedom Flotilla, another team, this time of independent experts that work for the United Nations, came to the exact opposite conclusion.

Linah Alsaafin: Mahmoud Abbas: the Second Coming (Electronic Intifada)
Jonathan Cook: Israel’s Jewishness: Precondition for Palestinian Statehood (al-Akhbar)
Jonathan Cook: Mosque Torching: When Extremist Attacks Against Arabs Cross the Green Line (al-Akhbar)


Angelique Chrisafis: France’s burqa ban: women are ‘effectively under house arrest’ (Guardian)

Since France introduced its burqa ban in April there have been violent attacks on women wearing the niqab and, this week, the first fines could be handed down. But a legal challenge to this hard line may yet expose the French state as a laughing stock.

Thomas Hammarberg, the Council of Europe’s commissioner for human rights, blogged this summer: “The way the dress of a small number of women has been portrayed as a key problem requiring urgent discussion and legislation is a sad capitulation to the prejudices of the xenophobes.”

West Bengal

Kheya Bag: Red Bengal’s Rise and Fall (New Left Review)

Occupy Wall Street

支持美国人民伟大的”华尔街革命” (乌有之乡/Utopia)
Translation: Message from Chinese activists and academics in support of Occupy Wall Street (China Study Group)
Joanna Walters: Occupy America: protests against Wall Street and inequality hit 70 cities (Guardian)
Jesse Jackson: Don’t Sleep Through the Revolution – Winning the Class War (CounterPunch)
Steve Fake: An American Fall (ideas&action)

International Action Center
Workers World Party
Party for Socialism and Liberation

Occupy Wallstreet @ Salon, @ Guardian, @ Huffington Post


Maximilian C. Forte: Al Jazeera and U.S. Foreign Policy (MRzine)
As’ad AbuKhalil: Change at Al Jazeera (al-Akhbar)
Jonathan Cook: A Thought Police for the Internet Age – The Dangerous Cult of the Guardian (Counterpunch)

Steve Jobs

As’ad AbuKhalil: Beyond the Personality Cult (al-Akhbar)


Jack Shenker, Barry Neild: Cairo riots leave at least 24 dead (Guardian)
Sharif Abdel Kouddous: Bloodbath in Cairo: An Eyewitness Account (Nation)


Basheer al-Baker: Michel Kilo: Syria’s Prudent Dissident (al-Akhbar)
Martin Chulov: China urges Syria regime to deliver on promised reforms (Guardian)


Shiv Malik: Unicef criticises Britain for jailing children over riots (Guardian)

US elections

Richard Adams: GOP presidential debate: Herman Cain steps into the spotlight (Guardian)


Marshall Auerback: Why Greece Should Not Default – Is Merkel Right on Greece? (CounterPunch)
Vijay Prashad: A New Bretton Woods? Battling Capital (CounterPunch)


Heiko Khoo: Xinhai Revolution: the view of a Western Marxist (China.org.cn)

Diaoyutai/Senkaku | Ahmadinejad | USA

Andy Yee: The Diaoyu/Senkaku dispute: Japan’s quiet power (East Asia Forum)
John sent this link:
Daniel Dzurek: The Senkaku/Diaoyu Islands Dispute (International Boundaries Research Unit, Durham University)

What did he actually say?
Mahmud Ahmadinejad: Full text of president’s speech at UN General Assembly (President.ir)

Anti-war activists in the United States threatened with terrorism charges:
Activists Denounce FBI Raids on Anti-war and Solidarity Activists Homes (International Action Centre)