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Saudi Arabia: The Tragedy of the “Ships of the Desert”

Lament in an Insane World: Stateless, Expelled Camels

After his visit to the Kingdom in May, Donald Trump decided to back the Saudi-led blockade of tiny Qatar (2015 population 2.235 million, but just 313,000 citizens) imposed less than a month later.

The siege was also joined by Bahrain, Doha, the Maldives, the UAE – Abu Dhabi, Ajman, Dubai, Fujairah, Ras al-Khaimah, Sharjah and Umm al-Quwain. It was quickly pointed out that:

(The) US President has long history of lucrative investment deals with Saudi Arabia but few ties to the small Gulf nation.

Trump’s financial bounties from Saudi “… includes the purchase of tens of millions of dollars in Trump’s real …

At Every Door

I come and stand at every door
But none shall hear my silent tread
I knock and yet remain unseen

— Nazim Hikmet, I Come and Stand at Every Door


On July 18, 2017, at a U.S. Senate Foreign Relations Committee hearing focused on “The Four Famines: Root Causes and a Multilateral Action Plan,” Republican Senator Todd Young, a former Marine, asked officials present if ongoing war in Yemen could fail to exacerbate the catastrophe developing there – one of four countries, along with Southern Sudan, Nigeria, and Somalia, set to collectively lose 20 million people this year, one third the death toll …

Europe’s Shameful Refugee Policy

This time of year Mediterranean beaches are the destinations of choice for many European holidaymakers; it’s also the beginning of the busiest time of year for the people smugglers based in Libya and elsewhere along the North African coast. July to October is their peak season — during this time in 2016 around 103,000 refugees were crammed into unsafe boats, often in the dead of night, and cast off into the Mediterranean Sea.

Some don’t survive the crossing. Whilst the number of migrants arriving at Europe’s back door may have decreased — from 205,858 in the first five months of 2016, …

Archaic Obstacles: Australia, Parliament and Dual Citizenship

Dusting away the must on a constitutional text may be a rare thing, but it should be a point of order for the elected officials of a country.  Often, these contain laws that are irretrievably archaic, and resist change by virtue of being embedded in a document deliberated over in another age.

The one provision in the Australian Constitution that has received considerable attention of late is section 44, one unmistakably dull yet absolute in effect:

Any person who is under any acknowledgment of allegiance, obedience, or adherence to a foreign power, or is a subject or citizen or entitled to the

The End of Globalisation

In From Global to Local: The Making of Things and the End of Globalisation, Finbarr Livesey challenges the common neoliberal claim that globalization is the be-all and end-all of global prosperity.

Livesey’s premise, which he supports with an impressive array of data, is that globalization peaked shortly after 2008 and the world economy is in a period of deglobalization. World trade is slowly declining as a percentage of GDP, and many companies who moved factories to the third world are improving their bottom line by reshoring them to the …

United States Drowning in an Ocean of Subjectivism

The very idea of freedom presupposes some objective moral law which overarches rulers and ruled alike. Subjectivism about values is eternally incompatible with democracy. We and our rulers are of one kind only so long as we are subject to one law. But if there is no Law of Nature, the ethos of any society is the creation of its rulers, educators and conditioners; and every creator stands above and outside his creation.

We should value those who solicit our votes by other standards than have recently been in fashion. While we believe that good is something to be invented, we

Canada’s Mining Industry, Foreign Policy and Neoliberalism in Africa

While few Canadians could find Zambia on a map, the Great White North has significant influence over the southern African nation.

A big beneficiary of internationally sponsored neoliberal reforms, a Vancouver firm is the largest foreign investor in the landlocked country of 16 million.

First Quantum Minerals (FQM) has been embroiled in various ecological, labour and tax controversies in the copper rich nation over the past decade. At the end of last year First Quantum was sued for US$1.4 billion by Zambia Consolidated Copper Mines Investment Holdings (ZCCM-IH), a state entity with minority stakes in most of the country’s mining firms. The …

The Museum of Capitalism

Should capitalism be put in a museum?

If you think that’s a good idea, you should visit the Museum of Capitalism (MOC) in Oakland, California.

Some might object that this is an outlandish idea, that capitalism is hardly material for a museum in the way communism or apartheid may be. The Apartheid Museum, for your information, opens daily at 9am in Johannesburg. And if you happen to be in any number of Eastern Europe’s major cities, most likely you will find enterprising young people doing sardonic museum-without-walls tours of communist wastelands—the former industrial sites—like Nova Huta, the Russian built …

The Story behind the Jerusalem Attack

How Trump and Netanyahu pushed Palestinians into a Corner

Early October 2016, Misbah Abu Sbeih left his wife and five children at home and then drove to an Israeli police station in Occupied Palestinian East Jerusalem.

The 39-year-old Jerusalemite was scheduled to hand himself over to serve a term of 4 months in jail for, allegedly, trumped up charges of ‘trying to hit an Israeli soldier’.

Misbah is familiar with Israeli prisons, having been held there before on political charges, including an attempt to sneak into and pray at Al-Aqsa Mosque.

Al-Aqsa Mosque is part of a large compound known as Haram al-Sharif, which includes – aside from Al-Aqsa – …

Japan’s Legacy of War Crimes in China

Unit 731 Museum

During World War II, Japan’s imperialist military invaded Northeast China and afterward spread throughout Southeast Asia, then on to an ill-fated attack on Pearl Harbor. Japanese crimes were many during the war and included the coerced services of ianfu (comfort women) for Japanese troops, slave labor, and experimentation on living humans.

Today Japanese right-wingers clamor for a re-expansion of Japanese militarism; prime minister Abe Shinzo pays visits to a shrine venerating Japanese dead — among them war criminals; the Diet demonstrates belligerence toward North Korea, a country Japan had formerly occupied; Okinawans’ (Japanese living on the southern archipelago) call for

Venezuelan Opposition “Consultation”: Playing Alone and Losing

A chavista campaigns for the upcoming Constituent Assembly elections (left) and opposition officials set fire to the voting records from their consultation
Sunday, July 16, was a significant day in Venezuela’s political history. The right-wing opposition MUD, backed by the United States, threw all its weight behind a “consultation” that they hoped would show that their (coup) attempts had a formidable public backing and trigger the “zero hour” of a new phase that would lead to the removal of the Bolivarian government. In the end the stunt backfired,

Uhlmann’s Trump Problem

It’s all well and good to huff at the current President of the United States, who has managed to get under more irritated skin than an army of dedicated leaches.  The immersion of the White House into the reality television show of Trumpland has set people on edge, lighting volatile fires and driving some commentators, quite literally, around the bend.

There is much to set the traditional group of political vultures on edge.  It could be Donald Trump’s stance on climate change, his indifference to Russian involvement in the 2016 presidential elections or, for that matter, Russia at all. He cares …

CNN: “Russia is an adversary, Ukraine is not.”

So that settles it!

Monday morning. David Chalian, CNN Political Director, on CNN’s “New Day” program. News ticker: “How do Trump-Russia and DNC-Ukraine compare?

New Day co-anchor Alysin Camerota (former Fox anchor) puts the question to her Political Director.

Chalian’s mechanical reply: “Russia is an adversary, Ukraine is not.”

Camerota, as always exuding wisdom, follows up: “Thanks so much for sifting through this with us.” (Good, so that’s settled! There had been so much sifting there, in those few precious boilerplate minutes.)

But wait, Mr. Political Director!  (And by the way, Dave, what’s your job description? How exactly do you direct CNN’s politics? The responsibility must rest heavily …

Mass Media Siege: Comparing Coverage Of Mosul and Aleppo

When Russian and Syrian forces were bombarding ‘rebel’-held East Aleppo last year, newspapers and television screens were full of anguished reporting about the plight of civilians killed, injured, trapped, traumatised or desperately fleeing. Syrian President Bashar al-Assad and Russian leader Vladimir Putin, both Official Enemies, were denounced and demonised, in accordance with the usual propaganda script. One piece in the Evening Standard described Assad as a ‘monster’ and a Boris Johnson column in the Telegraph referred to both Putin and Assad as ‘the Devil’.

As the respected veteran reporter Patrick Cockburn …

North Korea’s Nuclear Missiles: The Fantasy and the Reality of Australia’s Response

On 4 July 2017 North Korea fired a missile from their territory that landed in the Sea of Japan.  Western commentators immediately labeled it an ICBM with the capability of reaching Alaska, and by implication, the north of Australia.

The “threat” posed by North Korea’s missile test has dominated the strategic commentaries ever since.  It was personified by a major article in the Sydney Morning Herald on 8 July 2017 by political editor Peter Hartcher.  Hartcher quoted a number of defence “experts”, all of whom assumed:

That it was, in fact, an ICBM;
That North Korea had, or would shortly …

The US Empire, the CIA, and the NGOs

An interview with F. William Engdahl

The Ancient Greeks knew: “Religion is regarded by the common people as true, by the wise as false, and by rulers as useful.” No less a figure than the late Zbigniew Brzezinski and the CIA made use of this saying by recruiting the Muslim Brotherhood to fight a proxy war against the Soviet Union in Afghanistan, which led to the withdrawal of the Soviets from the Hindu Kush. Since then, the CIA used the mercenaries to fight more proxy wars in the Balkans, Chechnya, and Azerbaijan. Due to the wars of aggression against Iraq, Libya, Syria and Yemen the US …

Why Should We Read Agamben in the Era of Muslim Ban?

In January 2004, Giorgio Agamben, an Italian philosopher, refused to travel to the United States to teach at New York University after biometric security measures such as retina scans and fingerprints were introduced to U.S. visas in the wake of the September 11 attack. Agamben’s account of biometric identification stated that gathering biological data to track citizens all but epitomizes the same sense of identifying Jewish inmates with their tattooed numbers during the Holocaust. In fact, only the form of that loathsome aggression has changed in time, not its repellent character.

In his insightful book Homo Sacer: Sovereign Power and

NDP Leadership Candidate Niki Ashton Supports Palestinian Rights

Sometimes silence in politics speaks louder than words.

Israel lobby groups’ response (or lack thereof) to NDP leadership candidate Niki Ashton’s recent support of Palestinian rights suggests they believe previous criticisms backfired.

Two months ago B’nai B’rith attacked Ashton for attending a rally in support of Palestinian prisoners on hunger strike and a subsequent Facebook post commemorating the Nakba, which saw 750,000 Palestinians driven from their homes by Zionist forces in 1947/’48. The self-declared ‘human rights’ organization published a press release titled “B’nai Brith Denounces MP Niki Ashton for Standing in ‘Solidarity’ with Terrorists.” Rather than harming Ashton, the attack …

Trump’s Embrace of the Saudi Crown Prince, and a Qatar Nightmare Scenario

The failure of Secretary of State Rex Tillerson, in four-day talks with the Qatari emir Sheikh Tamim bin Hamad Al Thani and a Kuwaiti official, to mediate an end to the inter-Arab dispute over Qatar, suggests that U.S. influence in the Middle East is waning. Even in the wake of the most recent massive Saudi arms deal announced during Trump’s visit to Riyadh on June 5, and the president’s receipt of the King Abdulaziz al Saud Collar, Washington is unable to dissuade its “enduring partner” from its highly rash course of action.

The New York Times reports that Tillerson flew out …

Yemen: Court Battle Exposes UK-Saudi Arms Deals And Humanitarian Tragedy

On Monday 10th July, a ruling was handed down by London’s High Court, which should, in a sane world, exclude the UK government ever again judging other nations’ leaders human rights records or passing judgment on their possession or use of weapons.

The Campaign Against the Arms Trade (CAAT) lost their case to halt the UK selling arms to Saudi Arabia, the case based on the claim that they may have been used to kill civilians in Yemen.

Anyone following the cataclysmic devastation of Yemen would think it was a million to one that the £3.3 Billion worth of arms sold by …