Wikileaks | Israel | Syria

A travesty of justice in the 51st state of Amerikkka:
Owen Bowcott, Ewen MacAskill: Sweden tried to drop Assange extradition in 2013, CPS emails show (Guardian)

Swedish prosecutors attempted to drop extradition proceedings against Julian Assange as early as 2013, according to a confidential exchange of emails with the Crown Prosecution Service seen by the Guardian.
The sequence of messages also appears to challenge statements by the CPS that the case was not live at the time emails were deleted by prosecutors, according to supporters of the WikiLeaks founder…
The newly-released emails show that the Swedish authorities were eager to give up the case four years before they formally abandoned proceedings in 2017 and that the CPS dissuaded them from doing so…
The CPS lawyer handling the case, who has since retired, commented on an article which suggested that Sweden could drop the case in August 2012. He wrote: “Don’t you dare get cold feet!!!”.

Jonathan Cook: The UK’s Hidden Hand in Julian Assange’s Detention (CounterPunch)

It now emerges that the last four years of Julian Assange’s effective imprisonment in the Ecuadorean embassy in London have been entirely unnecessary. In fact, they depended on a legal charade.
Behind the scenes, Sweden wanted to drop the extradition case against Assange back in 2013. Why was this not made public? Because Britain persuaded Sweden to pretend that they still wished to pursue the case…
In fact, Assange should have walked free years ago if this was really about an investigation – a sham one at that – into an alleged sexual assault in Sweden. Instead, as Assange has long warned, there is a very different agenda at work: efforts to extradite him onwards to the US, where he could be locked away for good. That was why UN experts argued two years ago that he was being “arbitrarily detained” – for political crimes – not unlike the situation of dissidents in other parts of the world that win the support of western liberals and leftists…
Now the UK (read US) authorities have a new, even less credible pretext for continuing to hold Assange: because he “skipped bail”. Apparently the price he should pay for this relatively minor infraction is more than five years of confinement…
One has to wonder at what point will most people realise that this is – and always was – political persecution masquerading as law enforcement.

Nadia Khomami: Julian Assange asks UK court to drop arrest warrant (Guardian)

Though Swedish prosecutors have dropped the investigation against him, Assange will be arrested if he leaves the building in Knightsbridge for breaching his former bail conditions in the UK.

Nadia Khomami: Judge refuses to withdraw Julian Assange arrest warrant (Guardian)

Handing down her judgment at Westminster magistrates court, the senior district judge Emma Arbuthnot said she was not persuaded by the argument from Assange’s legal team that it was not in the public interest to pursue him for skipping bail.
She said: “I find arrest is a proportionate response even though Mr Assange has restricted his own freedom for a number of years…
Assange’s lawyer Jennifer Robinson said before Tuesday’s hearing that the US government had made clear its intention to bring a prosecution against WikiLeaks.
“The UK FCO [Foreign and Commonwealth Office] refuses to confirm or deny whether there is an extradition request for Mr Assange,” she said. “In our recent FoI challenge against the CPS […] the CPS refused to disclose certain material because it would ‘tip off’ Mr Assange about a possible US extradition request. It is time to acknowledge what the real issue is and has always been in this case: the risk of extradition to the US.”

Haggai Matar: A downed F-16 and an Iranian drone: The other side always started it (+972)

According to the Israeli narrative, the timeline of violence that resulted in Syria shooting down an Israeli fighter jet began just a few hours earlier. But Israel has been bombing inside Syria for months.

Joshua Leifer: Not just Ahed: Israel holding 300 Palestinian minors in prison (+972)

While the case of Ahed Tamimi has garnered international media attention, the Israeli military prison system’s treatment of Ahed and her mother is not unique. Israel Prison Service (IPS) statistics published by Israeli anti-occupation organization B’Tselem earlier in January reveal that Israel is holding over 300 Palestinian minors in prison. Over 180 of those minors are being held in detention until the end of legal proceedings, without having been convicted, like Tamimi.
According to IPS data handed over to B’Tselem, as of the end of November 2017 there were 5,881 Palestinians imprisoned by Israel, of whom 1,775 were being detained until the conclusion of legal proceedings. Over 400 were administrative detainees, including three women and two minors (aged 16 and 18). Administrative detention is a measure Israel uses to detain Palestinians (and some Jews) indefinitely without charge or trial. It is meant to be adopted rarely and with moderation. In practice, however, Israel uses administrative detention as a first, not last, resort.
In total, 2,200 Palestinians were being held in Israeli jails without having been convicted of any crime.

Ayelet Shaked: Israel must safeguard Jewish majority (AlJazeera)

Israel must safeguard a Jewish majority even at the expense of human rights, the country’s justice minister has said in a speech defending a bill that would legally define Israel as the “national home of the Jewish people” for the first time.
Ayelet Shaked said on Monday that Israel must maintain both a Jewish majority and democracy, but stressed that keeping the state’s Jewish character may come “at the price” of human rights violations…
The bill states that “the right to exercise national self-determination in the State of Israel is unique to the Jewish people”.
It also demotes Arabic from an official language to a language with “special status”, even though it is the mother tongue of approximately 1.7 million Palestinian citizens of the state.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Alison Weir: The Democrats’ Jerusalem Arithmetic (CounterPunch)

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Syria | Myanmar | EU | Fukushima | Wikileaks | Palestine/Israel

Judy Bello: Hands Off Syria! (CounterPunch)
Conn Hallinan: Syria and the Phantom (CounterPunch)

What was that Turkish F-4 Phantom II up to when the Syrians shot it down? … According to the Financial Times, Turkey’s Foreign Minister, Ahmet Davutoglu, told the newspaper “the jet was on a test and training mission focused on Turkey’s radar defense, rather than Syria.” Translation: the F-4 was “lighting up” a radar net. It is a common—if dangerous and illegal—tactic that allows one to probe an opponent’s radar system. Most combat radar is kept in a passive mode to prevent a potential enemy from mapping out weaknesses or blind spots that can be useful in the advent of an attack. … “Lighting up” radar was what the US Navy EP-3E Aries II was doing near China’s Hainan Island when it collided with a Chinese interceptor in 2001. … It is doubtful that Syria indentified exactly what the Turkish plane was, just that an unidentified warplane, flying low—generally the altitude one takes when trying to avoid radar—was in Syrian airspace. Paranoia? In 2007 Israeli warplanes—US-made F-16s, not Phantoms—slipped through Syria’s radar net and bombed a suspected nuclear reactor. … Turkey says the F-4 was 13 nautical miles from Syria when it was attacked—which would put it in international waters—but it crashed in Syrian waters. Damascus claims the plane came down less than a mile from the Syrian coast.

Heiko Khoo: The crisis of European capitalism (China.org.cn)

Last week’s crisis summit of European leaders resulted in defeat for the German Chancellor Angela Merkel, who capitulated to the demands of the French, Spanish and Italian leaders. Financial support for Italy and Spain can now take the form of funds going directly to their banking system. This means a relaxation of the imposition of swingeing austerity measures. Italy and Spain will not be humiliated like Greece, Ireland, Portugal and Cyprus have been in the recent past. … The Greek government will now demand that they be treated in the same way as the Spanish and Italians and that present austerity measures should come to a halt. They will warn Chancellor Merkel that the alternative will be a revolutionary upheaval in Greece. All this confirms that, had Syriza, the leftist electoral coalition, won the elections in Greece, their demand to remain in the Euro and simultaneously cancel austerity measures was by no means utopian.

Bertil Lintner: Burma 2012: Democracy and Dictatorship (JapanFocus)

Piers Williamson: Largest Demonstrations in Half a Century Protest the Restart of Japanese Nuclear Power Plants (JapanFocus)

On 29 June, Japan witnessed its largest public protest since the 1960s. This was the latest in a series of Friday night gatherings outside Prime Minister Noda Yoshihiko’s official residence. Well over one hundred thousand people came together to vent their anger at his 16 June decision to order a restart of Units 3 and 4 at the Oi nuclear plant.

Justin McCurry: Fukushima reactor meltdown was a manmade disaster, says official report (Guardian)

Last year’s accident at the Fukushima Daiichi nuclear power plant was a manmade disaster caused by poor regulation and collusion between the government, the operator and the industry’s watchdog, a report has said.

National Diet of Japan: The official report of the Fukushima Nuclear Accident Independent Investigation Commission (NAIIC)

Moore, Glover, Stone, Maher, Greenwald, Wolf, Ellsberg Urge Correa to Grant Asylum to Assange (Just Foreign Policy)

Because this is a clear case of an attack on press freedom and on the public’s right to know important truths about U.S. foreign policy, and because the threat to his health and well-being is serious, we urge you to grant Mr. Assange political asylum.

UKPA: Poison found on Arafat’s clothes (Google News)

The body of former Palestinian president Yasser Arafat may be exhumed after the discovery of traces of a radioactive agent on clothing he reportedly wore in his final days reignited a cauldron of conspiracy theories.

Gregg Carlstrom: Arafat’s widow calls to exhume his body (AlJazeera)
Occupation sciences / מדעי הכיבוש (Haaretz)

An Israeli university on the West Bank would be a university for the occupation sciences; it must not happen.
אוניברסיטה ישראלית בגדה תהיה אוניברסיטה למדעי הכיבוש; אסור שהיא תקום.

Jimmy Johnson: A Primer on Settler Colonialism (CounterPunch)

Jeremy Kuzmarov: Police Training, “Nation-Building,” and Political Repression in Postcolonial South Korea (JapanFocus)

Philip J. Cunningham: Red and Yellow: Thailand’s Future in Check and Balance (JapanFocus)