Thailand | South Africa | Venezuela | Israel | USA

Giles Ji Ungpakorn [ใจ อึ๊งภากรณ์ tɕāj ʔɯ́ŋ.pʰāː.kɔ̄ːn]: Junta’s referendum on authoritarian constitution neither free nor fair (Ugly Truth Tailand)

The Thai junta’s so-called “referendum” on its authoritarian constitution is not a genuine democratic referendum. It is being conducted in a climate of fear, bullying and harassment. Those wishing to oppose the constitution and campaign for a “No Vote” have been constantly arrested and thrown in jail and their literature confiscated. Even neutral meetings to discuss the constitution have been banned. Independent media have been raided by soldiers. The military controlled media is giving a one-sided, pro-junta view of this appalling constitution and soldiers are being sent into communities to “explain” the “benefits” of the constitution to the public…
This retched draft constitution should be rejected because it is drawn up by people who have contempt for democracy and contempt for most citizens. This is reflected in the ridiculous “prologue” which also justifies and white-washes all the actions of the military junta. There are a number of measures which increase the powers of military appointed bodies over elected governments and parliament. It allows for a non-member of parliament to become Prime Minister in certain circumstances and there is a special additional question in the referendum which asks if people would like the parliament and senate to vote together to appoint someone from the junta to be the Prime Minister after the first elections. Of course the senate is to be fully appointed by the junta. In addition, the formula for determining the number of members of parliament favours the Democratic Party.
The constitution is the most neo-liberal constitution ever drafted in Thailand. At a stroke it turns the clock back and virtually abolishes the universal health care scheme and the right to free secondary education. It also entrenches Theravada Buddhism at the expense of other beliefs.

Reuters: Thailand referendum gets under way as military seeks to cement power (Guardian)

Yes vote on new constitution backed by junta would hand control of senate to commanders, granting them a veto on decisions by elected lawmakers

Emma Graham-Harrison: Voters deliver stinging rebuke to ANC in South African election (Guardian)

South Africans have delivered a stinging rebuke to the ANC, handing the party its first major election setback since it swept to power after the end of apartheid over two decades ago.
Frustrated with a stagnant economy, a 25% unemployment rate and corruption allegations against Jacob Zuma, the president, voters in local elections turned away from the ruling party in their millions and it has been defeated in two of the three cities where it faced the strongest challenge.
The ANC is likely to claim a slim overall majority when final results are announced, but it has lost control of Port Elizabeth, an industrial city on the south coast, and Pretoria, the capital.

Eva María: Why “Twenty-First-Century Socialism” Failed (Jacobin)

The Bolivarian Revolution improved millions of lives, but it was never able to fundamentally challenge the logic of capital.

Chip Gibbons: The Repression Lists (Jacobin)

For decades, the state has used lists like the no-fly list to expand its power and harass political dissidents.

Andy Wilcoxson: The Exoneration of Milosevic: the ICTY’s Surprise Ruling (CounterPunch)

The International Criminal Tribunal for the Former Yugoslavia (ICTY) in The Hague has determined that the late Serbian president Slobodan Milošević was not responsible for war crimes committed during the 1992-95 Bosnian war.
In a stunning ruling, the trial chamber that convicted former Bosnian-Serb president Radovan Karadžić of war crimes and sentenced him to 40 years in prison, unanimously concluded that Slobodan Milošević was not part of a “joint criminal enterprise” to victimize Muslims and Croats during the Bosnian war…
The Karadžić trial chamber found that “the relationship between Milošević and the Accused had deteriorated beginning in 1992; by 1994, they no longer agreed on a course of action to be taken. Furthermore, beginning as early as March 1992, there was apparent discord between the Accused and Milošević in meetings with international representatives, during which Milošević and other Serbian leaders openly criticised Bosnian Serb leaders of committing ‘crimes against humanity’ and ‘ethnic cleansing’ and the war for their own purposes.”

Eugen Hardt: Rojava: „Taktisches Bündnis“ mit US-Imperialismus führt zur Niederlage (Linke Zeitung)

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.

Greece | Syria | Serbia | South China Sea | Chomsky | Israel

Costas Panayotakis: Democracy Imperiled: The Greek Political Crisis (MRzine)
There’s another poem by Günter Grass, this time on Greece:
Günter Grass: Europas Schande (Süddeutsche)

Miriam Elder: Syria massacre: opposition forces share blame, says Russian minister (Guardian)
Abdalaziz al-Khair, Narmin Amir, Yusuf Fakhr ed-Din: Syria in travail (Anti-Imperialist Camp)
Michel Chossudovsky: “The Salvador Option For Syria”. US-NATO Sponsored Death Squads Integrate “Opposition Forces” (Information Clearing House)

John sent this link:
Diana Johnstone: Graveyard Humor in Belgrade (CounterPunch)

In the May 20 runoff, affable former funeral home manager Tòmislav Nìkolić won slightly over 50 per cent of valid votes cast against the incumbent, Bòris Tàdīć, who had spent his eight years in office doing everything possible to please the Western powers that have in return done all they could to keep Serbia alone and humiliated. Constantly compared to Nazi Germany, Serbs have been subjected to a sleazy imitation of the Nuremberg war crimes tribunal, but no Marshall Plan billions to revive the economy. Conditions are increasingly desperate.

Fred had sent these articles:
Jose Maria Sison: On Philippine sovereignty, US and China (ILPS)
Jose Maria Sison: On the China claims and intrusions and the GPH-NDFP Peace Negotiations (Philippine Revolution Web Central)
Frances Quimpo: PH, China both accountable for biodiversity protection in Scarborough Shoal (Bulatlat)
Jorge Madlos (Ka Oris): Stop imperialist global plunder, and save mother earth! (Philippine Revolution Web Central)
Carol Pagaduan-Araullo: Thorny Sovereignty Issue (ILPS)
More on that topic:
Stirring up the South China Sea (International Crisis Group)
Raïssa Robles: Why get so riled up over some rocks under the sea? / Is China after the Philippines’ oil & gas fields? (raissarobles.com)
Peter Lee: The riddle of the Scarborough Shoals (Asia Times)

Gas and greed, not law and principle, may turn out to be the key to peace in the South China Sea.

Noam Chomsky, Amy Goodman: Palestinian Hunger Strike a Protest Against “Violations of Elementary Human Rights” / Occupy Wall Street “Has Created Something That Didn’t Really Exist” in U.S. — Solidarity / WikiLeaks, Obama’s Targeted Assassinations and Latin America’s Break from the U.S. (Democracy Now)

Conal Urquhart: African asylum seekers injured in Tel Aviv race riots (Guardian)

Violence breaks out after inflammatory speeches as protesters join politicians to demonstrate against rising Israeli immigration

Ilan Lior, Tomer Zarchin: Demonstrators attack African migrants in south Tel Aviv / מפגינים תקפו זרים בדרום תל אביב (Haaretz)
Israel’s Interior Minister: All African migrants should be jailed / אלי ישי: להכניס את כל מהגרי העבודה והפליטים לבית סוהר או מתקן שהייה (Haaretz)
Day after violent anti-African protest, Likud MK calls to ‘distance infiltrators’ immediately / בן ארי: מוטרד מהאלימות, אך הם נושאים מחלות נגיפיות מסוכנות (Haaretz)

Tomasz Konicz: Europas Showdown (Telepolis)

Die von der Regierung Schröder-Fischer eingeleitete Prekarisierungswelle in Deutschland ließ die Binnennachfrage in Deutschland genauso einbrechen, wie es nun der deutsche Sparterror in Europa tut. Doch konnte in der Bundesrepublik dieser Einbruch damals durch die extreme Steigerung der Exportüberschüsse in die Eurozone ausgeglichen werden, die ja aufgrund des Euro nicht mehr mit Währungsabwertungen darauf reagieren konnte.
Die Folge: Seit der Einführung des Euro hat Deutschlands Exportindustrie einen gigantischen Leistungsbilanzüberschuss gegenüber der Eurozone angehäuft, der inzwischen auf rund 800 Milliarden Euro angestiegen sein dürfte. Diese Überschüsse Deutschlands entsprechen den Defiziten – also Schulden – der übrigen Eurostaaten. Bei der Eurozone handelt es sich also bereits um eine Transferunion – allerdings nicht um eine, bei der Deutschlands Steuerzahler andere Staaten finanzieren würden; sondern um eine Transferunion, bei der die Leistungsbilanzüberschüsse der deutschen Exportindustrie mit einer ausufernden Defizitbildung der schwächeren südeuropäischen Volkswirtschaften beglichen wurden – wie mit der Prekarisierung des Arbeitslebens in Deutschland selber. Die simple arithmetische Tatsache, dass Deutschlands Leistungsbilanzüberschüsse automatisch die Schulden der Importländer darstellen müssen, wird im deutschen Krisendiskurs verbissen ausgeblendet.

Kosovo | Korea | Venezuela | Unions | Iran …

Peter Beaumont: Kosovo breakaway from Serbia was legal, world court rules (Guardian)

Kosovo’s unilateral declaration of independence from Serbia was legal under international law, the world court said today in a groundbreaking ruling with implications for separatist movements around the world and for Belgrade’s stalled EU membership talks.
The ruling – taken up by the international court of justice after a complaint from Serbia – is likely to lead more countries to recognise Kosovo’s independence. The tiny state is backed by 69 countries but needs 100 to join the UN.

Edward S. Herman: Srebrenica 15 Years After: The Politicization of “Genocide” (MRzine)

John sent this link:
Eva Golinger: Documents reveal multimillion-dollar funding to journalists and media in Venezuela (venezuelanalysis.com)

US State Department documents declassified under the Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) evidence more than $4 million USD in funding to journalists and private media in Venezuela during the last three years. This funding is part of the more than $40 million USD international agencies are investing annually in anti-Chavez groups in Venezuela in an attempt to provoke regime change.

Wang Lixin: Workers want real unions and that’s the problem (Shanghai Daily)

Greg Miller, Thomas Erdbrink: U.S. paid Iranian nuclear scientist $5 million for aid to CIA, officials say (Washintgon Post)
Flynt Leverett, Hillary Mann Leverett: Desperately Seeking “Defectors” to Make a Case for an Iran War (MRzine)

Coverage of Shahram Amiri’s departure from the United States and his return to Iran has focused, rather superficially, on the question of whether he was kidnapped or defected and then changed his mind. Frankly, we are more interested in what reports that the CIA tried to pay Amiri $5 million say about the current political and policy environment in Washington with regard to Iran-related issues. […] Indeed, the CIA and the rest of the Intelligence Community seem sufficiently desperate to make their case that they will pay taxpayer dollars to gotten-up defectors who might be prepared to say—for the right price—what Washington elites want to hear.

Sanghyuk S Shin, Ricky Y Choi, Thomas E Novotny: Economic sanctions towards North Korea: A violation of the right to health and a call to action (British Medical Journal)

In light of the grave implications for the health of the North Korean people, the health community must oppose the use of economic sanctions. Through purposeful health diplomacy, US and other health professionals should use their expertise and commitment to human rights to contribute to meaningful engagement. With regard to health, humanity has more in common across political divides than differences, even in North Korea; it is time to work with those commonalities in the pursuit of peace.

Gideon Levy: Tricky Bibi / תחמניהו (Ha’aretz)

Enough of the claims that the Palestinians are to blame for the failure of Oslo. In the settlement of Ofra, Netanyahu revealed the naked truth: He himself scuppered the Oslo Accords, and even boasts about it.
הקץ לטענות שהפלסטינים אשמים בכישלון הסכמי אוסלו. נתניהו חשף בפני מארחיו בעופרה את האמת העירומה: במו ידיו ומעשיו הוא חיסל את הסכמי אוסלו, והוא אפילו מתגאה בכך

Anshel Pfeffer: Lethal joysticks / רואות ויורות. לפגוע במחבלים מהכיסא בחמ”ל (Ha’aretz)

With the press of a button the dome opens to reveal a heavy machine gun. Small tweaks of the joystick aim the barrel. To the right of the gun is a camera, which transmits a clear picture of the target onto a screen opposite the soldier. A press of the button and the figure in the crosshairs is hit by a 0.5-inch bullet.
בלחיצת כפתור נפתחת הכיפה ומתגלה מקלע כבד. לחיצות קטנות על הג’ויסטיק מכוונות את הקנה. לימין המקלע מותקן מצלמה שמעבירה את תמונת המטרה בבירור למסך מול החיילת. לחיצה על הכפתור והדמות שעל הצלב חוטפת קליע בקוטר 0.5 אינץ’

Jonathan Cook: Israel’s video game killing technology (Electronic Intifada)

Spot and Shoot, as it is called by the Israeli military, may look like a video game but the figures on the screen are real people—Palestinians in Gaza—who can be killed with the press of a button on the joystick.
The female soldiers, located far away in an operations room, are responsible for aiming and firing remote-controlled machine-guns mounted on watch-towers every few hundred meters along an electronic fence that surrounds Gaza.

Gideon Levy: He impersonated a human / התחזה לבנאדם (Ha’aretz)

Sabbar Kashur wanted to be a person, a person like everybody else. But as luck would have it, he was born Palestinian. It happens. His chances of being accepted as a human being in Israel are nil.
סבאר קאשור רצה להיות בנאדם, סתם בנאדם, כמו כולם. אלא שאיתרע מזלו והוא נולד פלסטיני. קורה. סיכוייו להתקבל כבן אדם בישראל אפסו.

John Sexton: US finds bullying a tough habit to kick (China.org.cn)
John Sexton: Fallujah genetic damage “worse than Hiroshima” (China.org.cn)
John Sexton: UK deputy PM says Iraq war was illegal (China.org.cn)
John Sexton: US expert challenges myths about China in Africa (China.org.cn)