Is Turkey’s Erdogan Creating a Perfect Storm to Get His Party in Power? Interview with Baris Karaagac

Jessica Devereux interviews Baris Karaagac, a lecturer in International Development Studies at Trent University in Ontario, Canada. (The Real News)

Will the U.S. Stop “Cozying Up” to Egyptian Regime After Jailing of Journalists? Interview with Sharif Abdel Kouddous and Kenneth Roth

Democracy Now! talks to Sharif Abdel Kouddous from Cairo, and  Kenneth Roth, executive director of Human Rights Watch, after Egypt sentences Al Jazeera journalists Mohamed Fahmy, Baher Mohamed and Peter Greste to three years in jail for “spreading false news” that purportedly harmed Egypt following the 2013 military coup. According to Roth: “The U.S. should stop cozying up to General — now President — Sisi. He is presiding over the worst crackdown in modern Egypt history.” (Democracy Now!)

UN: Gaza could be ‘uninhabitable’ by 2020 if trends continue

Cara Anna reports for the Associated Press:

A new United Nations report says Gaza could be “uninhabitable” in less than five years if current economic trends continue.

The report released Tuesday by the U.N. Conference on Trade and Development points to the eight years of economic blockade of Gaza as well as the three wars between Israel and the Palestinians there over the past six years.

Last year’s war displaced half a million people and left parts of Gaza destroyed.

The war “has effectively eliminated what was left of the middle class, sending almost all of the population into destitution and dependence on international humanitarian aid,” the new report says.

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President Otto Pérez Molina Is Stripped of Immunity in Guatemala

Elisabeth Malkin and Azam Ahmed report for The New York Times:

Guatemala’s Congress voted on Tuesday to strip President Otto Pérez Molina of his immunity from prosecution, a unanimous decision that acknowledged the outpouring of citizen demands for an end to entrenched impunity.

The 132-0 vote was the culmination of a tumultuous five months since prosecutors revealed the existence of a customs fraud ring in April, describing how officials received bribes in exchange for discounted tariffs, a scheme that effectively stole millions from the treasury.

As rain fell over Guatemala City, jubilant crowds outside Congress after the vote shouted, “Yes, we could!”

Late on Tuesday, a judge granted a request from prosecutors and ordered Mr. Pérez Molina not to leave the country.

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Al Jazeera interviews Kirsten Weld, a historian of modern Latin America at Harvard University. (Al Jazeera English)

Extraordinary Brutality Inflicted on Civilians in Yemen: Interview with Vijay Prashad

David Petraeus: Use Al Qaeda Fighters to Beat ISIS

Shane Harris and Nancy A. Youssef report for The Daily Beast:

Members of al Qaeda’s branch in Syria have a surprising advocate in the corridors of American power: retired Army general and former CIA Director David Petraeus.

The former commander of U.S. forces in Iraq and Afghanistan has been quietly urging U.S. officials to consider using so-called moderate members of al Qaeda’s Nusra Front to fight ISIS in Syria, four sources familiar with the conversations, including one person who spoke to Petraeus directly, told The Daily Beast.

The heart of the idea stems from Petraeus’s experience in Iraq in 2007, when as part of a broader strategy to defeat an Islamist insurgency the U.S. persuaded Sunni militias to stop fighting with al Qaeda and to work with the American military.

The tactic worked, at least temporarily. But al Qaeda in Iraq was later reborn as ISIS, and has become the sworn enemy of its parent organization. Now, Petraeus is returning to his old play, advocating a strategy of co-opting rank-and-file members of al Nusra, particularly those who don’t necessarily share all of core al Qaeda’s Islamist philosophy.

However, Petraeus’s play, if executed, could be enormously controversial. The American war on terror began with an al Qaeda attack on 9/11, of course. The idea that the U.S. would, 14 years later, work with elements of al Qaeda’s Syrian branch was an irony too tough to stomach for most U.S. officials interviewed by The Daily Beast. They found Petraeus’s notion politically toxic, near-impossible to execute, and strategically risky.

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Bush, ‘Brownie’, FEMA and Katrina: Interview with Russ Baker

Thom Hartmann interviews Russ Baker, editor of WhoWhatWhy and the author of Family of Secrets, on his five part investigative series on the corruption that led to FEMA’s disastrous response to Hurricane Katrina in New Orleans ten years ago. (The Big Picture)

An Unequal Recovery: New Orleans 10 Years After Hurricane Katrina

‘We spend the hour today marking the 10th anniversary of Hurricane Katrina, the 2005 storm that devastated the Gulf Coast and New Orleans, killing more than 1,800 people, forcing more than a million people to evacuate. Ten years after Hurricane Katrina, New Orleans has become a different city. The population is now about 385,000—about 80 percent of its pre-Katrina population. The number of African Americans has plunged by nearly 100,000 since the storm. According to the Urban League, the income gap between black and white residents has increased 37 percent since 2005. Thousands of homes, many in African-American neighborhoods, remain abandoned. On Thursday, President Obama spoke in New Orleans, remembering what happened 10 years ago. “We came to realize that what started out as a natural disaster became a man-made disaster — a failure of government to look out for its own citizens,” Obama said.’ (Democracy Now!)

Greg Palast on New Orleans 10 Years Later: I’m Not Celebrating

Greg Palast, creator of the documentary film Big Easy to Big Empty, recently wrote on the 10th anniversary of Hurricane Katrina:

Screw the celebration.  New Orleans hasn’t “come back.”  That is, there are still the Bourbon Street bars serving “Hurricanes” to sloshed tourists and Mardi Gras when white Americans can catch trinkets from floats floating over the ghosts of the drowned.

New Orleans is back to 79% of its pre-flood population.  Why am I not cheering? Because the original residents—that is, the majority of the pre-flood Black residents—are still wandering inAmerica’s cruel economic desert.

And the pols of Louisiana love it. Louisiana had a Democratic governor.  The purge of the voter rolls by flood has changed that forever.

Watch my film and meet Stephen Smith, who couldn’t swim, but floated on a mattress from rooftop to rooftop to save the lives of his neighbors.  Smith brought them to a bridge over the rising waters.  They waited for four days without food or water, as helicopters buzzed overhead.  Undoubtedly, one was President Bush’s copter, heading to his self-congratulatory press conference.

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Change Everything or Face A Global Katrina

Naomi Klein, author of This Changes Everything, recently published an excerpt from The Shock Doctrine:

For me, the road to This Changes Everything: Capitalism vs. the Climate begins in a very specific time and place. The time was exactly ten years ago. The place was New Orleans, in the aftermath of Hurricane Katrina. The road in question was flooded and littered with bodies.

Today I am posting, for the first time, the entire section on Hurricane Katrina from my last book, The Shock Doctrine: The Rise of Disaster Capitalism. Rereading the chapter 10 years after the events transpired, I am struck most by this fact: the same military equipment and contractors used against New Orleans’ Black residents have since been used to militarize police across the United States, contributing to the epidemic of murders of unarmed Black men and women. That is one way in which the Disaster Capitalism Complex perpetuates itself and protects its lucrative market.

This material is free for reproduction.

From the Introduction:

I met Jamar Perry in September 2005, at the big Red Cross shelter in Baton Rouge, Louisiana. Dinner was being doled out by grinning young Scientologists, and he was standing in line. I had just been busted for talking to evacuees without a media escort and was now doing my best to blend in, a white Canadian in a sea of African-American Southerners. I dodged into the food line behind Perry and asked him to talk to me as if we were old friends, which he kindly did.

Born and raised in New Orleans, he’d been out of the flooded city for a week. He looked about seventeen but told me he was twenty-three. He and his family had waited forever for the evacuation buses; when they didn’t arrive, they had walked out in the baking sun. Finally they ended up here, a sprawling convention centre, normally home to pharmaceutical trade shows and “Capital City Carnage: The Ultimate in Steel Cage Fighting,” now jammed with two thousand cots and a mess of angry, exhausted people being patrolled by edgy National Guard soldiers just back from Iraq.

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The Soft Logic of Soft Targets

Stephen M. Walt writes for Foreign Policy:

The recent “lone wolf” attack on a French train — thankfully foiled by three alert and courageous American passengers — has sparked new concerns about terrorist assaults on so-called “soft targets.” These are places where people congregate and are potentially vulnerable, but are not subject to airport-style security procedures. The Islamic State has called upon sympathizers to conduct such attacks wherever they might be, and European governments are now pondering additional measures to protect trains and railway stations. And on Aug. 22, just one day after the thwarted attack, the New York Times brought it all home by warning: “Train Attack in Europe Puts Focus on Vulnerability of U.S. Rail.”

As I’ve suggested before, it’s time to “chill out” in the face of this latest supposedly grave danger. It is obviously not a good thing that these (and other) attacks have taken place, and counterterrorism officials should continue to take reasonable precautions against future occurrences. But hyping the threat and turning ourselves inside-out to prevent any and all attacks will squander resources and play into our adversaries’ hands.

For starters, the danger of terrorist attacks on “soft targets” is dwarfed by other hazards that we accept with aplomb every day. Highway accidents, household mishaps — and in the United States, ordinary homicide — are all far more serious dangers than the risk from terrorism. To take but one example, over the past 12 months Islamic State sympathizers have killed about 600 people outside Iraq and Syria. In that same period, more than 15,000 peoplewere murdered in the United States alone. Both phenomena are disturbing, but which is the greater danger?

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Emerging Markets Offer Growth Opportunities For Western Defense Firms

Andrew Clevenger reports for Defense News:

[…] The shift in defense spending creates opportunities for Western defense contractors as demand for sophisticated weapons will likely outpace emerging countries’ abilities to produce them domestically. As a white paper published by Avascent in March noted, the US has a leading position in these markets, but political friction between the US and its allies leaves an opening for competition from European, Israeli, Russian and Chinese defense companies.

While mature markets in Western Europe and Northeast Asia continue to offer major competitive opportunities over the next 10 years, “many opportunities will be found in fast-growing emerging markets which have less well-developed industrial capacity to fulfill the requirements of rapidly expanding militaries,” the Avascent white paper states. “A growing share of revenues for most Western defense suppliers will come from these emerging markets.”

For example, 95 percent of defense contracts in Gulf Corporation Council countries between 2010 and 2014 went to foreign companies, with the lion’s share going to the US (73 percent) and Western Europe (24 percent). In the coming decade, 64 percent of GCC contracts are up for grabs, according to Avascent projections.

Similarly, the US (41 percent) and Western Europe (31 percent) were the largest defense suppliers for Southeast Asia between 2010 and 2014, but 63 percent of contracts for the coming decade are uncommitted.

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German Envoy: ‘US Considered Using Nukes Against Afghanistan After 9/11’

Ofer Aderet reports for Haaretz:

U.S. President George Bush (2nd R) is pictured with Vice President Dick Cheney (R) and senior staff in the President's Emergency Operations Center in Washington in the hours following the September 11, 2001. © U.S. National ArchivesThe United States considered using nuclear weapons against Afghanistan in response to the September 11 attacks, Der Spiegel reported on its website Saturday.

Michael Steiner, who served as a political advisor to then-German Chancellor Gerhard Schroder, told the German daily that the nuclear option was one of the possibilities examined after the attacks.

“The papers were written,” Steiner said when asked whether the U.S. was considered using nuclear weapons in response to the attacks orchestrated by Al-Qaida’s Osama bin Laden, in which almost 3,000 people were killed. “They had really played through all possibilities.”

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In Japan, Tens of Thousands Anti-War Protesters Reject Return to Militarism

Jon Queally reports for Common Dreams:

Tens of thousands of people gathered outside the Japanese parliament building on Sunday to reject plans put forth by Prime Minister Shinzo Abe that would see an aggressive expansion of the nation’s armed forces despite a long-standing constitutional mandate for a “defense only” military posture.

The enormous crowd—estimated by organizers as more than 120,000 people—is opposing a set of bills moving through the country’s legislature which would allow the country’s military to engage in overseas fighting and ratchet up spending on new weapons systems. Despite loud public protest against the plan, Abe has continued to defend the plan. Demonstrators carried banners reading “Peace Not War” and “Abe, Quit!”

“Sitting in front of TV and just complaining wouldn’t do,” Naoko Hiramatsu, a 44-year-old associate professor in French and one of the Tokyo protesters, told Reuters. Holding his four-year-old son in her arms, she continued, “If I don’t take action and try to put a stop on this, I will not be able to explain myself to my child in the future.”

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Jeremy Corbyn poses national security threat, says Brititsh Chancellor George Osborne

Press Associated reports:

A Labour party led by Jeremy Corbyn would pose a threat to national security by undermining the future of the UK’s nuclear deterrent, according to the chancellor, George Osborne.

The chancellor said “an unholy alliance of Labour’s leftwing insurgents and the Scottish nationalists” would shatter decades of near-unbroken Westminster consensus in favour of maintaining a nuclear capability.

Both Corbyn, the favourite to succeed Ed Miliband, and the SNP oppose the renewal of the Trident missile system being pursued by the Conservative government. Osborne said that would be disastrous.

Amid suggestions that Conservatives were delighted at Corbyn’s surprise emergence as the favourite to lead the party, Osborne insisted the contest should not be seen as a joke.

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August Playlist

UN Official Says Human Suffering in Yemen ‘Almost Incomprehensible’

Kanya D’Almeida reports for IPS News:

With a staggering four in five Yemenis now in need of immediate humanitarian aid, 1.5 million people displaced and a death toll that has surpassed 4,000 in just five months, a United Nations official told the Security Council on August 19 that the scale of human suffering is “almost incomprehensible”.

Briefing the 15-member body upon his return from the embattled Arab nation on Aug. 19, Under-Secretary-General for Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs Stephen O’Brien stressed that the civilian population is bearing the brunt of the conflict and warned that unless warring parties came to the negotiating table there would soon be “nothing left to fight for”.

An August assessment report by Save the Children-Yemen on the humanitarian situation in the country of 26 million noted that over 21 million people, or 80 percent of the population, require urgent relief in the form of food, fuel, medicines, sanitation and shelter.

The health sector is on the verge of collapse, and the threat of famine looms large, with an estimated 12 million people facing “critical levels of food insecurity”, the organisation said.

In a sign of what O’Brien denounced as a blatant “disregard for human life” by all sides in the conflict, children have paid a heavy price for the fighting: 400 kids have lost their lives, while 600 of the estimated 22,000 wounded are children.

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Whose War in Yemen?

Daniel Larison writes for The American Conservative:

usa saudi arabia yemen flagsFor much of the past year, the country of Yemen in southern Arabia has been convulsed by civil war and foreign military intervention. Especially since the capture of the capital city, Sana’a, last September by a Zaydi Shi’ite militia called Ansar Allah—more commonly known as the Houthis—Yemen has been in political turmoil. Since then a U.S.-backed, Saudi-led military intervention has intensified the country’s civil strife and brought about a humanitarian catastrophe affecting more than 20 million civilians. Though most Americans may not realize it, the U.S. is helping to wage war on yet another country in Middle East and supporting a policy that is inflicting enormous suffering on an entire people. The effects of this reckless intervention will likely include the further empowerment of jihadist groups in Yemen, amplified resentment of U.S. interference in the region’s affairs, chronic political instability, and a massive loss of life from famine and disease.

Yet despite the central role of U.S. clients including Saudi Arabia and Egypt in prosecuting this war, and the intelligence and logistics support provided by the U.S. and Britain, the conflict in Yemen has received only sporadic coverage in Western media. The ill-advised U.S. role has gone mostly unnoticed here at home, and there has been no real debate about our involvement. By contrast, Yemenis are only too aware of U.S. support for the campaign that has wrecked their country.

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The U.S.-Backed War in Yemen Is Strengthening al Qaeda

Nancy A. Youssef reports for The Daily Beast:

The U.S.-backed war in Yemen has strengthened al Qaeda there, American defense officials concede, posing a serious threat to U.S. security.

Months into the U.S.-supported Saudi intervention in Yemen, fighters linked to al Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula (AQAP), long considered the terror group’s deadliest franchise, are closing on the southern port city of Aden, according to U.S. officials and local reports.

The land grabs marks the most important gains al Qaeda has made since March, when the Saudi military began its intervention into Yemen. And it gives the group more area to train, plot, and attack U.S. interests. As recently as earlier this month, AQAP called for its supporters to hit the United States, urging lone wolf attackers to strike.

[…] It’s also safer than before. Mixed in with civilian populations, the group becomes harder to attack through the U.S. drone program. And it appears the group is using the conflict there to solidify its hold on Yemen.

[…] Not only is Saudi Arabia failing to stop the group’s expansion, but some fear the kingdom is colluding with AQAP to fight the Houthis, Iranian-backed rebels whom Saudi Arabia considers a bigger threat. Indeed, there have been reports that AQAP and Saudi Arabia worked together in the initial efforts last month to push the Houthis out of Aden.

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PostCapitalism: The end of capitalism has begun

Paul Mason (@paulmasonnews), author of PostCapitalism, writes for The Guardian:

The red flags and marching songs of Syriza during the Greek crisis, plus the expectation that the banks would be nationalised, revived briefly a 20th-century dream: the forced destruction of the market from above. For much of the 20th century this was how the left conceived the first stage of an economy beyond capitalism. The force would be applied by the working class, either at the ballot box or on the barricades. The lever would be the state. The opportunity would come through frequent episodes of economic collapse.

Instead over the past 25 years it has been the left’s project that has collapsed. The market destroyed the plan; individualism replaced collectivism and solidarity; the hugely expanded workforce of the world looks like a “proletariat”, but no longer thinks or behaves as it once did.

If you lived through all this, and disliked capitalism, it was traumatic. But in the process technology has created a new route out, which the remnants of the old left – and all other forces influenced by it – have either to embrace or die. Capitalism, it turns out, will not be abolished by forced-march techniques. It will be abolished by creating something more dynamic that exists, at first, almost unseen within the old system, but which will break through, reshaping the economy around new values and behaviours. I call this postcapitalism.

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CIA Plans Huge Release of Top Secret Reports From the 1960s

Jeff Stein reports for Newsweek:

CIALogoThe Central Intelligence Agency is set to release 2,500 previously top secret briefings it gave to presidents John F. Kennedy and Lyndon B. Johnson in the 1960s, a private pro-CIA group announced on Wednesday.

“The vast majority of the documents have never been previously released,” an informed official said, although a number of CIA presidential briefings have surfaced in heavily redacted form over the years. Intelligence officials from the Kennedy and Johnson administrations have also discussed their private conversations with the presidents in memoirs and other books.

The reports, customarily provided personally to the president each morning by a senior CIA officer, if not the director himself, will almost certainly show much of what the spy agency was telling Kennedy and Johnson about Vietnam, Cuba, the Soviet Union, China and conflicts in Africa and the Middle East. They may well also include the CIA’s private assessments of world leaders.

But expectations should be low for the new materials, says Pulitzer Prize-winning historian, Kai Bird. “I bet they are on the whole surprisingly dull [and only] occasionally insightful,” cautioned Bird, the author of a biography of McGeorge and William Bundy, brothers who held top national security posts in both the Kennedy and Johnson administrations.

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Digital surveillance in Britain ‘worse than Orwell’, says new UN privacy chief

Adam Alexander reports for The Guardian:

The first UN privacy chief has said the world needs a Geneva convention style law for the internet to safeguard data and combat the threat of massive clandestine digital surveillance.

Speaking to the Guardian weeks after his appointment as the UN special rapporteur on privacy, Joseph Cannataci described British surveillance oversight as being “a joke”, and said the situation is worse than anything George Orwell could have foreseen.

He added that he doesn’t use Facebook or Twitter, and said it was regrettable that vast numbers of people sign away their digital rights without thinking about it.

“Some people were complaining because they couldn’t find me on Facebook. They couldn’t find me on Twitter. But since I believe in privacy, I’ve never felt the need for it,” Cannataci, a professor of technology law at University of Groningen in the Netherlands and head of the department of Information Policy & Governance at the University of Malta, said.

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Inquiry Weighs Whether ISIS Analysis Was Distorted

Mark Mazzetti and Mark Apuzzo report for The New York Times:

Kashmiri demonstrators hold up a flag of the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (ISIL) during a demonstration against Israeli military operations in Gaza, in downtown Srinagar on July 18, 2014. The Pentagon’s inspector general is investigating allegations that military officials have skewed intelligence assessments about the United States-led campaign in Iraq against the Islamic State to provide a more optimistic account of progress, according to several officials familiar with the inquiry.

The investigation began after at least one civilian Defense Intelligence Agency analyst told the authorities that he had evidence that officials at United States Central Command — the military headquarters overseeing the American bombing campaign and other efforts against the Islamic State — were improperly reworking the conclusions of intelligence assessments prepared for policy makers, including President Obama, the government officials said.

Fuller details of the claims were not available, including when the assessments were said to have been altered and who at Central Command, or Centcom, the analyst said was responsible. The officials, speaking only on the condition of anonymity about classified matters, said that the recently opened investigation focused on whether military officials had changed the conclusions of draft intelligence assessments during a review process and then passed them on.”

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Why is Saudi Arabia Now Supporting the Iran Deal?

Human rights groups face global crackdown ‘not seen in a generation’

Harriet Sherwood reports for The Guardian:

[…] The causes of increasing restrictions are complex, say organisations that monitor civil society activity, but broadly fall into three categories.

First is the shift in political power away from the west, the main source of funding for domestic civil society groups and the base for most big international NGOs. At the end of the cold war, the US and other western countries stepped in to assist newly democratising countries and burgeoning grassroots organisations.

But, more recently, many governments in the developing and post-communist world have pushed back against what they see as western interference. “This is the end of the post-cold war period in which [the west] felt that liberal democracy and western concepts of human rights were spreading around the world, to a period in which there’s a relativisation of political values and the questioning of a common narrative,” says Carothers.

Second, governments have woken up to the power of civil society – particularly after pro-democracy uprisings in former communist states and the revolutionary wave that swept through the Middle East.

“In most countries where leaders don’t allow a lot of pluralism or democracy, they’ve learned to tame opposition political parties,” Carothers says. “But the deepest fear of repressive governments is that they wake up in the morning, open the shutters of the presidential palace, and look out to find 100,000 citizens in the square saying ‘enough!’. That’s scary and uncontrollable,” particularly, Carothers adds, when coupled with technological skill in harnessing the power of social media to organise and spread messages.

The third cause of the NGO crackdown is the proliferation of counter-terrorism measures – often promoted by the west – that sweep civil society organisations into their embrace, either inadvertently or deliberately. Legitimate measures to curb funding of and money-laundering by terrorist organisations often have a debilitating effect on NGOs.

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Jeremy Corbyn to apologise for Iraq war on behalf of Labour if he becomes leader

Ewen MacAskill reports for The Guardian:

The Labour leadership frontrunner Jeremy Corbyn is to issue a public apology over the Iraq war on behalf of the party if he becomes leader next month, a move Tony Blair repeatedly resisted.

In a statement to the Guardian, Corbyn said he would apologise to the British people for the “deception” in the runup to the 2003 invasion and to the Iraqi people for their subsequent suffering.

Such an apology would be important symbolically – particularly in a party where Iraq remains a sore point, 12 years after Britain joined the US in the invasion – and signal a wider departure from existing Labour’s defence and foreign policy.

The MP made a vow that suggests future UK military interventions will become rarer: “Let us say we will never again unnecessarily put our troops under fire and our country’s standing in the world at risk. Let us make it clear that Labour will never make the same mistake again, will never flout the United Nations and international law.”

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John Pilger’s Film “Cambodia Year Zero” Named One Of ITV’S Greatest Programs

CounterPunch reports:

On the 60th anniversary of the founding of ITV, Britain’s and Europe’s biggest commercial broadcaster, John Pilger’s groundbreaking film, ‘Year Zero: the Silent Death of Cambodia’, has been named as one of the network’s 60 top programmes.

‘Cambodia Year Zero’, as it became known, was credited with alerting the world to the suffering of the people of Cambodia under the fanatical regime of Pol Pot. It raised tens of millions of dollars   for Cambodia’s children – mostly unsolicited – and became the most watched documentary throughout the world.

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Undercover Police Have Regularly Spied On Black Lives Matter Activists in New York

George Joseph reports for The Intercept:

Documents obtained by The Intercept confirm that undercover police officers attended numerous Black Lives Matter protests in New York City between December 2014 and February 2015. The documents also show that police in New York have monitored activists, tracking their movements and keeping individual photos of them on file.

The nearly 300 documents, released by the Metropolitan Transit Authority and the Metro-North Railroad, reveal more on-the-ground surveillance of Black Lives Matter activists than previous reports have shown, conducted by a coalition of MTA counterterrorism agents and undercover police in conjunction with NYPD intelligence officers.

This appears to be the first documented proof of the frequent presence of undercover police at Black Lives Matter protests in the city of New York, though many activists have suspected their presence since mass protests erupted there last year over a grand jury’s decision not to indict Daniel Pantaleo, a police officer involved in the death of Eric Garner.

The protest surveillance and use of undercover officers raises questions over whether New York-area law enforcement agencies are potentially criminalizing the exercise of free speech and treating activists like terrorist threats. Critics say the police files seem to document a response vastly disproportionate to the level of law breaking associated with the protests.

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Tony Blair’s Tripoli Adviser

Tony Blair's Tripoli Adviser

Libya and the West’s moral bankruptcy

Ramzy Baroud writes for Arab News:

On April 26, 2011, a meeting that can only be described as sinister took place between the then Italian Prime Minister Silvio Berlusconi and French President Nicolas Sarkozy. The most pressing issue discussed at the meeting in Rome was how to deal with African immigrants.

Sarkozy, who was under pressure from his right-wing and far-right constituencies to halt immigration originating from North Africa (resulting from the Tunisian uprising), desired to strike a deal with the opportunistic Italian leader. In exchange for an Italian agreement to join a French initiative aimed at tightening border control (Italy being accused of allowing immigrants to cross through its borders to the rest of Europe), France, in turn, would resolve major disputes involving a series of takeovers, involving French and Italian companies. Moreover, Italy would then secure French support for a bid by Italian economist and banker, Mario Draghi, to become the head of the European Central Bank.

Another point on the French agenda was active Italian participation in the war on Libya, initially spearheaded by France, Britain and the United States, and later championed by NATO.

Initially, Berlusconi hesitated to take part in the war, although certainly not for any moral reasons: For example, because the war was deliberately based on a misconstrued interpretation of UN Security Council Resolution 1973 of March 17, 2011. The resolution called for an ‘immediate cease-fire,’ the establishment of a ‘no-fly zone’ and using all means, except foreign occupation, to ‘protect civilians.’ The war, however, achieved entirely different objectives from the ones stated in the resolution. It achieved a regime change, the bloody capture and murder of Libyan leader, Muammar Al-Qaddafi, and resulted in a bloodbath in which thousands of civilians were killed, and continue to die, due to the chaos and civil war that has gripped Libya since then.

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