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Saturday, 27 January

03:16

The Syrian Kurds Think They Can Play Damascus Like A Fiddle OrientalReview.org

Having provoked a frenzy of patriotism in Damascus, the wily Syrian Kurds would then be in an ideal position to exploit the countrys long-standing dreams of liberating the former Syrian Province of Iskenderun that has been under Turkish control as the Province of Hatay since 1939.

The post The Syrian Kurds Think They Can Play Damascus Like A Fiddle appeared first on OrientalReview.org.

02:01

Oliver Branch: Turkeys Bid to Modify the Syrian End-game New Eastern Outlook

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Whereas Turkeys operation Oliver Branch is nothing short of an attack on the forces allied undoubtedly with the US, and thereby an attack on the US, this operation is as much a result of Turkey-US conflict of interests as it is aimed at modifying the US end-game for Syria. The US end-game for Syria envisages a Syria clearly portioned between the Syrian regime and the Kurds. This end-game is, however, nothing short of a nightmare for the Turks who have moved, in the last 5 years or so, from initially supporting the Jihadi elements such as ISIS to creating their own militias and to allying with Russia to strangulate the growing power of Kurdish militias and thus prevent the emergence of an independent Kurdistan on Turkish borders. In other wordsand contrary to what is being hoped in the Westneither Russia nor Syria will have any major objection to Turkish intervention because this intervention is directly thwarting the US objectives.

Oliver Branch will not damage Turkey-Russia alliance

Turkey, by invading Syria, is therefore not running the risk of breaking or significantly damaging the Turkey, Russia, Syria, Iran alliance. While Turkey may end up controlling a part of Syria, Turkey is neither interested in assimilating Afrin as its own territory nor is going to establish its direct military control.

While reports in the western media have tended to project this operation as an assault on Russia because Afrin is west of the Euphrates, where Russia, not the US, has been controlling the air space ever since it sent its air force to Syria in 2015 to salvage the Assad regime. However, instead of this operation being an evidence of a crack in Turkey-Russia alliance, it largely underscores the fact that this operation is a result of broader understanding reached between Ankara and Moscow.

There remains little doubt in that this operation will directly work to the US rather than Russian or Syrian disadvantage. To begin with, Afrin is a place which has been the gateway to the Amanos Mountains, where Kurdish guerillas and Turkish army have clashed numerous times. And, according to various media reports, Kurdish militias present in Afrin have amassed a big stockpile of weapons, thanks to American supplies since 2016, including multiple rocket launchers, missile launchers, 80- and 120-mm mortars, MK19 grenade launchers, US-made BGM-71 TOW anti-tank missiles, reconnaissance vehicles, FGM-148 Javelin anti-tank missiles, and so on.

One of the m...

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Friday, 26 January

22:48

Low hanging fruit for China-Malaysia ties Nile Bowie

Kuala Lumpur advances "durian diplomacy" to supply a bigger share of spiking Chinese demand for the pungent fruit


Musang King, a premium variety of durian, is all the rage in China. Durians and durian-based products such as pastries, desserts and confectionery are among the most searched for items on Taobao, Chinas biggest e-commerce platform, and surging Chinese demand for the spiked fruit could drive a major transformation of Malaysian agriculture in the years ahead.

Malaysian officials have recently advanced so-called durian diplomacy in hopes of winning a bigger share of Chinas market. Currently, China does not permit the import of fresh durians from Malaysia, allowing only for frozen fruit pulp. But if negotiations with Chinese authorities to allow whole fruit exports succeed, Malaysia could soon enjoy a new type of commodity boom.

Neighboring Thailand currently has a near monopoly on Chinas durian market. Thats in large part because the country is permitted to export whole fruit durian harvested from trees before ripening. Malaysias durian farmers, by contrast, traditionally harvest only when the fruit drops to the ground; China believes the fallen-fruit harvesting method risks exposure to dirt and pests.

Malaysian Agriculture Minister Ahmad Shabery Chee believes the prohibition could be lifted some time year, according to media reports quoting him in November. Known in Malaysia as the King of Fruits, officials have put high priority on courting their Chinese counterparts to expand Malaysias market access.

Chinas new ambassador to Malaysia, Bai Tian, was treated to a durian feast earlier this month at an orchard in Bentong, a budding eco-tourism destination in Pahang, the countrys top durian-growing state. The town, roughly an hours drive from Kuala Lumpur, hosted an annual international durian tourism festival last year that drew huge crowds.

Read the full story at 
Asia Times...

22:00

Economic Collapse and Dollar Hegemony How Did This Start? Strategic Culture Foundation

Gold had its own intrinsic value and was valid in every empire around the world; the same with silver and bronze. Gold had become not only a means of exchange and a measure of value but also a reservoir of value to be bequeathed to heirs. Above all it was a means of payment.

21:49

Syrias Kurds Share Fate of Other Washington Allies Land Destroyer

January 26, 2018 (Martin Berger - NEO) - One would be mistaken to believe the recent aggravation of the Syrian crisis triggered by the launch of Turkeys Operation Olive Branch along Syrias northern border, which has already resulted in military casualties suffered by both the Turkish and Kurdish sides, came as a surprise for those following the conflict carefully. Theres also no denying the fact that the bloody Turkish-Kurdish confrontation already resulting in a considerable civilian death toll is an avid example of the two-faced policies of Washington, when former allies of the US are now being used as bargaining chips.


Back in August of 2016, Ankara would show the world that it entered Syria with a fixed goal in mind that had little to nothing in common with fighting the Islamic State (ISIS). At that time, when Turkey launched an assault on Jarabulus, numerous media experts were not afraid to openly state that Ankara was going after Kurdish armed groups by taking this step.

In particular, back then Le Figaro commented on the Turkish invasion of Syria, noting that Erdogans assault on Jarabulus was not aimed at the destruction of ISIS, but instead was aimed at countering Kurdish advancements in Syria as this step had already been in the cards, with ISIS serving as a mere excuse. At the time, this position was supported by the German Tagesspiegel which would note that initially Erdogan was supporting Islamists in the fight against Damascus, but when they began to lose their grip over Syrian territories, the Turkish leader decided to step in directly, making it clear from that point on he would be using the fight against ISIS as a pretext for future military actions against Syrian Kurds. Further still, the Swiss Tagesanzeiger back in 2016 was also...

21:15

Why Is the Israeli Army Suddenly Concerned About Gaza? Strategic Culture Foundation

More than 10 years ago Israel tightened its grip on Gaza, enforcing a blockade on goods coming in and out of the tiny coastal enclave that left much of the two million-strong population there unemployed, impoverished and hopeless.

21:14

America"s National Defense Is Really Offense Strategic Culture Foundation

Pentagon planners clearly anticipate another year of playing at defense by keeping the offense on the field. An impetuous and poorly informed president is a danger to all of us, particularly as he is surrounded by general-advisers who see a military solution to every problem.

21:00

NATO Conflict in Syria Spotlights Illegal US Blundering Strategic Culture Foundation

The American interloping in Syria increasingly looks like a brazen illegal occupation whose ulterior agenda is to further destabilize the Syrian state. Washington needs to be censured and sanctioned. Its policies are illegal, criminal and prosecutable under international law. It needs to get its military forces out of Syria now.

20:15

When It Comes to Davos, It"s Inequality, Stupid Strategic Culture Foundation

For billions of people, the Groucho Marx rule applies when talking about Davos. This is the exclusive club, which meets in the luxury Swiss resort each year to discuss the global business environment.

19:45

What Is "Safari Club II" and How It Can Change Middle East Dynamics Strategic Culture Foundation

The CIA and its Cold War allies, in forming the original Safari Club, has provided an invaluable template to the besieged peoples of Yemen, the Horn of Africa, and the wider Middle East. The Safari Club II is giving the Saudis, Israelis, Americans, Egyptians, Moroccans, and others a taste of their own bitter medicine.

17:29

Solutions: Building Communities The Corbett Report

People are isolated from each other, public spaces are being privatized, and we are being punished for attempting to grow our own food. There is only one solution: resistance. Join us this week as we explore how to build communities through revolutionary gardening, revolutionary walking and other everyday activities.

17:04

Who are the Ukrainians? OrientalReview.org

The Slavonic term Ukraine, for instance, in the Serbo-Croat case Krajina, means in the English language a Borderland a provincial territory situated on the border between Russia and Rzeczpospolita.

The post Who are the Ukrainians? appeared first on OrientalReview.org.

16:26

The Genocide Conspiracy Against North Korea: An Open Letter to the International Criminal Court New Eastern Outlook

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The American threats against North Korea continue to mount and with them the threat of the genocide of the people of North Korea by the United States of America and its allies. The meeting of the USA, Canada and other nations that attacked North Korea in 1950 held in Vancouver, Canada, on January 16, which some hoped would lead to a political solution, instead took on the character of a meeting of criminals who by their presence, agreement and actions made them parties to a conspiracy to commit genocide, a crime under the statute of the International Criminal Court and the Genocide Convention of 1948.

The threats made against North Korea are due to one single fact: the Democratic Peoples Republic of Korea refuses to accept the world hegemony of the American Empire. It has nothing to do with nuclear weapons. It has become a ritual now to state that all the permanent members of the Security Council are armed with nuclear weapons, that the United States has used them on the cities of Hiroshima and Nagasaki, that they have continuously threatened to use them to intimidate other nations since 1945, that Pakistan, India, and Israel have them, that NATO members in Europe have them at their disposal under US direction, that North Korea is in violation of no international law in developing them to defend themselves, to ensure their security just as all those other nations have done, that North Korea threatens no one and seeks only to have a full and final peace with the United States.

The nuclear weapon issue is a simply the pretext that the United States is using to try to solidify its tyranny over Korea, over the world.

The threat to the world peace comes not from North Korea. It comes from the United States and its allies: the nations who have degraded themselves into subjugated vassal states ready to obey any criminal order of their masters of war in Washington.

In response to what in our considered opinion are criminal actions, Dr. Graeme MacQueen, Founder and former Director of the Centre For Peace Studies, at McMaster University, and I, felt it necessary to send the following Open Letter to the Prosecutor of the International Criminal Court on January 23.

                                                                                                                Open Letter

...

11:02

Hiking interest rates before GE14 sign of BNMs independence, think tank says Hornbill Unleashed

Todays increase of overnight policy rate (OPR) ahead of the 14th general elections (GE14) was a sign of Bank Negara Malaysias (BNM) credibility as an independent institution, a think tank has said today. A researcher with the Asian Strategy and Leadership Institute (ASLI) said such a hike would usually not be popular with voters, but []

11:02

Land Code amendment to be tabled at DUN sitting in July Uggah Hornbill Unleashed

The amendment to the Sarawak Land Code will be tabled at the next State Legislative Assembly meeting which is scheduled to be held in July this year. Deputy Chief Minister Datuk Amar Douglas Uggah Embas said this following the proposal to amend the land code, which is vital to resolve the issues on Pemakai Menua []

05:40

Support for two states drops below 50% among Jewish Israelis & Palestinians alike +972 Magazine

Given alternatives to a two-state solution, nearly 20 percent of Jewish Israelis said they would opt for a definitive war, and nearly 40 percent of Palestinians said they support armed struggle.

By Yael Marom

Israeli soldiers stop Palestinians at a flying checkpoint at the entrance to the West Bank city of Hebron, June 15, 2014. (Yotam Ronen/Activestills.org)

Israeli soldiers stop Palestinians at a flying checkpoint at the entrance to the West Bank city of Hebron, June 15, 2014. (Yotam Ronen/Activestills.org)

For the first time in recent years, fewer than half of Jewish Israelis and Palestinians support a two-state solution, according to a public opinion poll published Thursday. One of the two populations maintained at least a small majority of support for two states in polls conducted over the past couple of years; the latest poll marked the first time both populations support dropped below 50 percent.

[tmwinpost]

Only 46 percent of Jewish Israelis and Palestinians in the West Bank and Gaza support the two-state solution, according to the poll, conducted by Dr. Khalil Shikaki and Walid Ladadwa from the Palestinian Center for Policy and Survey Research (PSR), along with Israeli pollster and +972 Magazine writer Dr. Dahlia Scheindlin and the Tami Steinmetz Center for Peace Research (TSC). Departing from the trends of Jewish Israelis and Palestinians in the West Bank and Gaza, 83 percent of Palestinian citizens of Israel still back a two-state solution.

Asked What should happen next?&#8221...

05:01

Turkish-Kurdish War Or Daesh Civil War? OrientalReview.org

The Turks and Kurds are trying to rid themselves of the devilish long-term consequences of their Faustian deals with Daesh, essentially sending their one-time allies to their doom in the mountainous meat grinder of northwestern Syria.

The post Turkish-Kurdish War Or Daesh Civil War? appeared first on OrientalReview.org.

03:33

What Marked the Beginning of 2018 in Indo-China Relations? New Eastern Outlook

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The fundamental influence of Sino-Indian relations, which are constantly under surveillance of NEO, can hardly be doubted, not only on the situation in Indo-Pacific Regions (IPR), but also in the world as a whole.

A month earlier, it was difficult to disagree with the opinion of the experts that 2017 was marked as a worst (over many years) state in these relations. Due to the conflict on the Doklam plateau in the Himalayas, the situation almost resulted in a direct military confrontation between the two Asian giants. Moreover, conducting a regularly scheduled summit of BRICS members was on the verge of failure.

However, on the eve of the New Year, the same experts expressed discreet optimism on the future of the Sino-India relations in 2018. Alas, but international politics has nothing in common with the Christmas tales, and the pattern of the first few weeks of the New Year affirms it.

On 15 January, commenting on the same confrontation fact on the Doklam plateau, Director of the department of South Asia in Shanghai Academy of International Studies (one of the most reputed Chinese think tanks) Zhao Gancheng said that this conflict has damaged the mutual trust and confidence in the both diplomacy and defense as well.

In the article with remarkable title China should prepare for more India border clashes of the mentioned expert it is mentioned that some high-ranking Indian officials showing hostility and consider China as a major threat to India.

Furthermore, in the text of the article, the nameless officials indicates to Indian Army General Bipin Rawat, who has indeed made a number of strong statements regarding Sino-Indian relations in general as well as the situation on the border separating the two countries since his appointment to the current position at the end of 2016.

While often appearing in the Indian media news, General Bipin Rawat broadly manifested himself as a significant public politician. Thus, on January 12, he expressed his concerns over the imminent threats of the use of chemical, biological, radiological and...

02:59

When the Sultan took in Jewish refugees +972 Magazine

Bayezid II, the sultan of the Ottoman Empire, saved my familys life during the Spanish Inquisition. The Israeli government could learn a thing or two from him.

By Tom Pessah

Sultan Bayezid II.

Sultan Bayezid II.

I am a Jew of Sephardic origin, which means the defining moment of my familys history was their expulsion from Spain in 1492. I still have relatives who speak Ladino, the Jewish language that evolved out of medieval Spanish and was preserved in the countries the Jews arrived in. We have our own dietary customs and liturgical traditions.

[tmwinpost]

For years, I only heard about the villains in this story  Ferdinand II of Aragon and Isabella I of Castile  religious zealots who expelled the Jews and Muslims who refused to convert to Christianity from the newly re-conquered Spain.

But no one ever taught me about Bayezid II, the sultan of the Ottoman Empire at the time of the expulsion. In August 1492, he sent his navy to Spain to evacuate the expelled Jews to the empire, where he granted them permission to settle and become citizens. He sent a special decree to the governors of his European provinces, ordering them to receive the Jewish refugees well. Bayezid reportedly criticized the Spanish rulers for rejecting the Jews: You venture to call Ferdinand a wise ruler, he who has impoverished his own country and enriched mine! The sultan even provided economic assistance to pay ransom for Jews who had been kidnapped....

Thursday, 25 January

22:30

Remember Roop Kanwar? Padmaavat Isnt the First Instance of Misdirected Rajput Pride The Wire

In 1987, protests against the reportedly forced sati of 18-year-old Roop Kanwar drew a similar backlash.

Members of the Rajput community protest against the release of film 'Padmaavat' in Meerut o Wednesday. Credit: PTI

Members of the Rajput community protest against the release of film Padmaavat in Meerut o Wednesday. Credit: PTI

If the rule of law prevails over censorship by mob, Sanjay Leela Bhansalis latest film, renamed Padmaavat at the suggestion of the Central Board of Film Certification (CBFC), will be released as scheduled, at least in some parts of the country, just a couple of days short of a year after the director was attacked and the film set at a fort in Rajasthan vandalised by members of the Shree Rajput Karni Sena.

The manufactured furore over a movie based on a poem about a medieval queen, who may or may not have existed, recalls a far more serious occasion in the past when the Rajput community rose up to aggressively defend and glorify womens right (or duty...

21:58

Revisiting Muthamma in Her Little Hamlet Near Coimbatore The Wire

A closer look shows how the lives of poor tribal people gets affected when they lose access to land and forests.

Jaggi Vasudev of the Isha Foundation. Credit: Wikimedia Commons

Jaggi Vasudev of the Isha Foundation. Credit: Wikimedia Commons

On January 9, I kept a second promise made to Muthamma and visited her small Adivasi hamlet near the Jaggi Vasudevs Isha Foundation in Coimbatore. I last met her about six months ago in Dharmapuri during the state conference of the Tamil Nadu unit of the All India Democratic Womens Association (AIDWA) and had spoken to her at length about the struggle she and a small band of Adivasis have been waging against the foundation.

I had kept my first promise to tell her story then, which was carried by The Wire in September 2017 and had been widely read. At a time when Vasudev was making waves across the country in the company of the rich and powerful, the article raised questions and doubts about his campaign to revive rivers through river-linking and tree plantation.

Vasudevs reputation and his promotion of river-linking received an even more severe jolt when the famous Waterman, Rajendra Singh, was quoted in an article in The Wire by Ni...

21:55

Syrias Kurds are Now Sharing the Sorry Fate of Most Washingtons Allies New Eastern Outlook

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One would be mistaken to believe the recent aggravation of the Syrian crisis triggered by the launch of Turkeys Operation Olive Branch along Syrias northern border, which has already resulted in military casualties suffered by both the Turkish and Kurdish sides, came as a surprise for those following the conflict carefully. Theres also no denying the fact that the bloody Turkish-Kurdish confrontation already resulting in a considerable civilian death toll is an avid example of the two-faced policies of Washington, when former allies of the US are now being used as bargaining chips.

Back in August of 2016, Ankara would show the world that it entered Syria with a fixed goal in mind that had little to nothing in common with fighting the Islamic State (ISIS). At that time, when Turkey launched an assault on Jarabulus, numerous media experts were not afraid to openly state that Ankara was going after Kurdish armed groups by taking this step.

In particular, back then Le Figaro commented on the Turkish invasion of Syria, noting that Erdogans assault on Jarabulus was not aimed at the destruction of ISIS, but instead was aimed at countering Kurdish advancements in Syria as this step had already been in the cards, with ISIS serving as a mere excuse. At the time, this position was supported by the German Tagesspiegel which would note that initially Erdogan was supporting Islamists in the fight against Damascus, but when they began to lose their grip over Syrian territories, the Turkish leader decided to step in directly, making it clear from that point on he would be using the fight against ISIS as a pretext for future military actions against Syrian Kurds. Further still, the Swiss Tagesanzeiger back in 2016 was also stressing the fact that the main goal of Turkeys invasion of Syria was an attempt to prevent the creation of an autono...

21:30

Its High Time the Government Took Notice of Kashmirs Changing Climate The Wire

Uncharacteristically warm winters, disappearing snow cover and melting glaciers have already dealt a blow to winter tourism in the region. Horticulture and agriculture are likely next in line.

The dry and relatively warmer winter in Jammu and Kashmir has the entire region worried. Credit: Reuters

The dry and relatively warmer winter in Jammu and Kashmir has the entire region worried. Credit: Reuters

Srinagar: Chillai Kalan, the 40-day harsh winter period in Kashmir, is nearing its end. This dreaded period, typically marked by massive snowfall and freezing cold, has been uncharacteristically warm this year. There are no signs of snow draping the Valley anytime soon.

The lofty mountains circling the bowl-shaped region have scattered patches of snow. Many are naked and lifeless. On Monday, January 22, the sun shone brightly over Kashmir and the temperature went past 14C. The next day the mercury touched 15C.

There are no chances of snowfall for the next two weeks. This is worrying for us in the longer run. The precipitation during this period of winter charges our water resources. But the coming months could get tougher, explained Mohammad Hussain Mir, senior meteorologist at the India Meteorological Departments (IMD) Srinagar station.

This dry and relatively warmer winter has the entire region worried. Many see it as a weather shock. It has already dealt a blo...

21:15

Editorial: Mumbais Journalists Show the Way The Wire

The nine journalists who filed the petition challenging the media gag in the Sohrabuddin case acted to uphold a principle and the victory is a vindication of the fundamental values of the profession.

The rights of the press are intrinsic with the constitutional right that guarantees freedom of expression. In reporting from an open trial, the press not only makes use of its own right, but serves the larger purpose of making such information available to the general public. With these ringing words, Justice Revati Mohite-Dere of the Bombay high court has set aside the restrictions imposed by a Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI) court on the medias coverage of the proceedings in the Sohrabuddin fake encounter case.

Apart from stressing the constitutional issue at stake, Justice Mohite-Dere also noted that the CBI special judge had overreached his powers by issuing the gag order. There is simply no provision in the Criminal Procedure Code for such an order, she poi...

21:15

'Calls Upon' Trickery - How Europe Cheats on Iran's Nuclear Agreement Strategic Culture Foundation

The Trump administration wants to abolish the nuclear agreement with Iran. The big European countries want to keep the formal agreement but are actively looking for other reasons, specifically Iran's ballistic missiles, to put new sanctions on Iran. A detailed look into the issue reveals that those European countries are willfully misreading the relevant UN resolutions and mislead the public about their real motivations.

20:45

Playing "Kurdish Card" in Syria Backfires on US As Turks Move In Strategic Culture Foundation

What the result will be of Turkeys offensive against the Kurdish-held enclave of Afrin in northwest Syria may not be clear for a while, but two things are already certain. Bad decisions in Washington provided the trigger, and Washingtons regional position will suffer as a result of Ankaras Orwellian-named Operation Olive Branch.

20:34

Lawfare Against Lula? Jail for Former President May Throw Brazil Into Chaos The Wire

As an appeals court upheld Lulas conviction in a corruption case, casting doubt over his fresh bid for presidency in October, international experts have expressed shock over the state of Brazilian democracy.

Supporters of former Brazilian president Luiz Inacio Lula da Silva attend a rally. Credit: Reuters

Sao Paulo: The line dividing a vibrant democracy and a banana republic is rather thin, especially in South America. With a shameful history of countless coups, that line has been crossed many times in this part of the world. Brazil, in the eyes of many at home and abroad, seems to be on the verge of crossing that line all over again.

Wednesday was not an ordinary day in the history of this nascent democracy. On trial were a mans fate and the future of democracy in this country. In a way, the verdict in the corruption case involving Brazils former president Lula da Silva was a foregone conclusion: for his opponents, he was guilty as sin; for his supporters, the trial was nothing but a farce, a political witch-hunt against a former president who had rocked the countrys elite and their masters in North America with his pro-poor policies and independent foreign policy during his eight years (2003-2010) as president. Lula, his supporters say, is being hunted as he is heading back to the presidential palace.

By Wednesday afternoon, with more than 100,000 supporters of Lula jamming the city centre in Porto Alegre, where an appeals court was hearing his plea ag...

20:30

Rough Edges: How Not to Speak Truth to Power The Wire

A column reflecting on contemporary society and politics.

Prime Minister Narendra Modi. Credit: Reuters

Prime Minister Narendra Modi. Credit: Reuters

In June 2016, when the former Censor Board chief Pahlaj Nihalani boasted about being Prime Minister Narendra Modis chamcha, the media roundly blasted him. And rightly so. The matter erupted when in the wake of the controversy sparked by some 89-odd cuts Nihalini suggested for Anurag Kashyaps film Udta Punjab the Censor Board chief publicly declared obeisance to Modi. Yes, I am a chamcha of Narendra Modi as Anurag Kashyap said. I am proud to be a Modi chamcha (acolyte). Should I be a chamcha of the Italian Prime Minister instead? he asked.

Cynics would argue that Nihalini was being publicly brazen about what many others would execute by sleight of hand. The reality is that flatterers who are in awe of the powerful abound in every sector, including in our own the media. The reality is that a largely sycophantic media can have serious repercussions because the industry unlike many...

20:26

Twenty-Five Years On, India, ASEAN Want to Be in Sync, but Keep Missing Cues The Wire

While the number of linkages has increased, there is still a lot to learn about each other before India and ASEAN can optimise this partnership.

The ASEAN-India relationship has moved a long way from the early 1990s from being largely economic to a more broad-based strategic partnership. Credit: Reuters

The presence of the leaders of ten southeast Asian nations at Indias Republic Day parade, to mark 25 years of the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN)-India dialogue partnership, demanded something special.

Raisina Hill wanted a symbolic show of force: military contingents from each country would march in unison with the cream of Indian defence forces down Rajpath, as the ten ASEAN leaders looked on.

The idea didnt get much traction though.

It would have been a logistics nightmare, said an ASEAN diplomat. Another senior envoy pointed out to The Wire that it would have required further negotiation within the army officers of the group themselves one walks one way, another walks another way. We still havent ever marched together. There was a strong push from the Indian foreign office, but ASEAN officials put their foot down.

In a nutshell, it is a near analogy of how India and ASEAN have worked for the last 25 years. The two partners know that they are made for each other on paper, but havent quite found the right beat to march in sync.

The ASEAN-India relationship has moved a long way from the early 1990s from being largely economic to a more broad-based strategic partnership. C...

20:15

Turkey Re-Enters Syrian Endgame with "Smart Power" Strategic Culture Foundation

The UN Security Council meeting on Tuesday regarding Turkeys military operations in Syria turned out to be like the dog that didnt bark in the night in the Sherlock Holmes short story. There was no bark no statement by the Security Council condemning Turkey.

19:58

Anti-Padmaavat Protests: SC to Hear Contempt Pleas; Bajrang Dal Workers Clash With Police The Wire

The Supreme Court will hear two separate contempt pleas against four state governments and Karni Sena members on January 29.

Members of the Rajput community protest against the release of Padmaavat in Mumbai. Credit: Reuters

New Delhi: As certain groups continue to hold multiple states ransom over the release of Sanjay Leela Bhansalis movie, film distributors in BJP-ruled Rajasthan, Uttar Pradesh, Goa, Gujarat and Madhya Pradesh have decided not to pick up the films reels while cinema halls have agreed not to screen it despite the Supreme Court rejecting the plea to cancel the censor board certificate issued to Padmaavat....

19:25

With the Government Stopping Narmada Dam Water, Farmers in Gujarat Dont Know Where to Turn The Wire

Prime Minister Narendra Modis engineering miracle is yet to show results.

The diesel water pumps that farmers use to pull water to their fields in absence of sub-canals. Credit: Damayantee Dhar

Farmers use diesel water pumps to pull water to their fields in absence of sub-canals. Credit: Damayantee Dhar

For about a week now, Kantibhai Tamaliya, a farmer based in Gujarats Surendranagar district, has been holding meetings with other farmers in the area. They are trying desperately to find a solution to the problem of water while they wait for the impending failure of the crop that they have sown in October-November last year. Harvest time is close, but before that the crops, mostly cumin and wheat, need to be irrigated twice, with an interval of about 15 days.

The Gujarat governments decision to stop supplying water to farmers after March 15 has come as a jolt. They should have informed us beforehand. We would not have sown seeds in November. They didnt announce it then because the (assembly) election was due in December, Tamaliya told The Wire.

The Sardar Sarovar Narmada Nigam Ltd. (SSNNL) recently issued a notification stating that it will not provide irrigation water in the Narmada command area for summer crop post-March 15. The notification further stated that SSNNL has taken this decision owing to scarce water reserves in the Sardar Sarovar dam due to scanty rain in the catchment area. SSNNL appealed to the farmers to not sow summer crop unless they have a local water source. According to the notification, the storage level in the dam is a...

19:05

Remembering Y.V. Chavan, a Strong Advocate of Working Class Unity The Wire

The veteran trade unionist passed away around noon on January 23, 2018, in Pune.

Y.V. Chavan. Credit: Author provided

With the death of Y.V. Chavan, one of the seniormost trade unionists of Maharashtra, a link with Mumbais and Maharashtras working class history has ended. He was also the founding president of the New Trade Union Initiative (NTUI).

Yashwantrao, as he was called by those closest to him, was born on August 28, 1920, to a judge in the then princely state of Kolhapur. He was active in the independence and communist movement from his teens. It was when he came to study at Elphinstone College, Mumbai, in 1939 that he began to directly address the working class question. While trying to evade arrest, he was underground at a friends house when he met Vimal Hemmady, his future wife, who passed away in 2009. She too was a freedom fighter, active in the school teachers union and in the womens movement. They are both survived by their only child, their son Madhav, who is the CEO of Pratham, an NGO that works in the field of education.

Recognising the will of the working class was critical to advancing the communist movement in Chavans view. He believed that the aspiration of the working class in 1942 during the Quit India Movement was unequivocally against British imperialism and for independence and self-determination. Hence in his view, while there could under no circumstances be any compromise with fascism, the Communist Party of Indias (CPI) support for the Soviet and, therefore, British efforts in World War II went against the dominant view of the working class and would weaken the communist movement. This difference meant his departure from the CP...

18:58

In Modinomics, Government Borrowing Is Bizarrely Reduced by Increasing PSU Borrowing The Wire

In the recent HPCL and GSPC deals, ONGC was used by the Modi government as a convenient milch cow.

ONGC has officially become the chief milch cow of the Modi government. Credit: Reuters

ONGC has officially become the chief milch cow of the Modi government. Credit: Reuters

The borrowings of Indias Oil and Natural Gas Corporation (ONGC), until recently a largely debt-free public sector undertaking (PSU), should figure prominently in the essential readings of Modinomics.

The government recently decided that its growing expenditure-revenue gap in 2017-18, partly caused by lower Goods and Services Tax collections, must be fixed by milking the profitable oil public sector undertaking (PSU).

So a bizarre idea was born in the name of creating synergy between two big government owned PSUs, namely between ONGC and Hindustan Petroleum Corporation Ltd (HPCL).

Since the government is the owner of both PSUs, all it had to do was sell its 51% stake in HPCL to ONGC and transfer nearly Rs 37,000 crore into the Centres kitty. With this, the divestment target for this year was more than met. Of course one wonders, if large-ticket deals like this can be carried out so easily, why make any effort to divest small stakes in a large number of PSUs?

To facilitate these financial acrobatics however, ONGC, which has been a debt-free company till now, will be...

18:30

How Violence Against Women in India Can Be Stopped by Training Police Officers The Wire

Justice for Her is a collaborative effort to improve access to justice for women and girl victims of violence in Delhi, Haryana, Madhya Pradesh and Punjab.

For many victims of violence, the police are a large part of the problem. Credit: Reuters

For many victims of violence, the police are a large part of the problem. Credit: Reuters

From the Womans Marches in the US to the global #MeToo campaign, the issue of womens rights has well and truly permeated societys consciousness.

But this should not disguise the fact that womens rights on a global scale and specifically womens safety is still very much in its infancy. Thousands of women and girls each year are victims of gender violence in India and the most recent statistics from the National Crime Records Bureau show that crimes against women have increased 34% in the past four years.

This figure provid...

17:49

Former Brazilian Presidents Election Run in Doubt After Conviction Upheld The Wire

Former Brazilian President Luiz Inacio Lula da Silva arrives at the metallurgical trade union while the Brazilian court decides on his appeal against a corruption conviction that could bar him from running in the 2018 presidential race, in Sao Bernardo do Campo, Brazil, January 24, 2018. Credit: Reuters/Leonardo Benassatto

Porto Alegre: A Brazilian appeals court unanimously upheld the corruption conviction of former President Luiz Inacio Lula da Silva on Wednesday and added t...

17:40

Legislation Introduced in US Senate to End Aid to Pakistan The Wire

Rand Paul. Credit: Reuters

Washington: A legislation seeking to prohibit the US from sending nearly $2 billion of taxpayers money to Pakistan was introduced in the Senate on Wednesday by a top Republican leader.

The Bill introduced by Senator Rand Paul seeks to redirect those funds, amounting to $1.28 billion from the State Department and $852 million from United States Agency for International Development to the Highway Trust Fund.

Early this month, US President Donald Trump had supported such a move by Paul.

Trump after assuming office has been criticising Pakistan for providing safe havens to militants.

In his first tweet of 2018, Trump said that the US had foolishly given Pakistan more than $33 billion in aid over the last 15 years, while Pakistan had returned only lies and deceit.

Congressman Mark Sanford from the Republican party and Congresswoman Tulsi Gabbard from the opposition Democratic will be introducing companion legislation in the US House of Representatives.

We fail our responsibilities to protect our country and properly steward taxpayers hard-earned money when we support countries that chant Death to America and burn our flag, Paul said.

Lets bring that money home and use it to help rebuild our infrastructure instead of giving it to a nation that persecutes Christians he said.

The Congressional move comes less than a month after the Trump admin...

17:37

ONGC Borrows Rs 4,000 Crore From ICICI Bank to Fund HPCL Acquisition The Wire

The acquisition would create Indias first integrated oil company.

The logo of Oil and Natural Gas Corp's (ONGC) is pictured along a roadside in Ahmedabad, India, September 6, 2016. Credit: Reuters/Amit Dave/File Photo

The logo of Oil and Natural Gas Corps (ONGC) is pictured along a roadside in Ahmedabad, India, September 6, 2016. Credit: Reuters/Amit Dave/File Photo

New Delhi: State-owned Oil and Natural Gas Corp (ONGC) has borrowed Rs 4,000 crore from ICICI Bank on top of over Rs 18,000 crore it has taken from three other banks to part finance its Rs 36,915 crore acquisition of Hindustan Petroleum Corp Ltd (HPCL).

Sources said ICICI Bank has extended one-year loan to ONGC to fund the acquisition of governments 51.11% stake in HPCL.

ONGC had yesterday stated that it has entered into loan agreements with Punjab National Bank, Bank of India and Axis Bank Ltd for borrowing Rs 18,060 crore for the acquisition.

The pact with PNB is for loan of up to Rs 10,600 crore and with Bank of India for another Rs 4,460...

16:44

Is Kiev Headhunting for Georgian and American Mercenaries in Ukraine? New Eastern Outlook

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It is not hard to read between the lines of recent news articles in the Georgian press about so-called Georgian fighters in Ukraine fighting on the side of Kiev. Apparently a cleanup operation is going on, not to eliminate the alleged pro-Moscow separatists in the East of the country but with some elements within the ranks of those who came to fight in Ukraineon the side of Kiev.

Along with former Georgian president Mikheil Saakashvili, they entered Ukraine to get another go at the Russians, closer to their home territory. Their presence there has nothing to do with Ukraine itself. The cleanup operation is a reflection of Georgian internal politics and overall US plans for the region, which Ukraine can do without being the theatre for.

Set up to be taken out

We are told by the above-mentioned Georgian link that a number of troops walked straight into an ambush, and that their Ukrainian commanders set them up to be eliminated by the separatists. This would be entirely consistent with previous developments in this story, as it is not new. We have been following it since 2014, and NEO and Veterans today were the first to report on the nexus between the indiscriminate murders in Maidan and Georgian-trained snipers, who mysteriously moved from Maidan Square to Syria, as if they would be interested in that conflict, on fake Georgian passports.

Those links were established, with supporting evidence, even before Gian Micalessin, an Italian journalist, claimed to have first broken the story. The lid had already been blown off through contact with Georgian army personnel who had been involved in training those snipers, and even one of the Maidan snipers himself. As Jim Dean of Veterans Today wrote, Micalessins story merely confirmed VTs earlier reports of how outside mercenaries had been brought in to shoot up both demonstrators and security police in a classic Cold War psyop.

There has long been a practice of governments paying snipers to shoot people indiscriminately in Eastern Europe. Prior to August 2008, before the Georgian-Russian war, snipers operating in Georgia (some of whom were the same people), who had been trained by a US contractor, Archangel, were employed to kill civilians in South Ossetia. The important thing to remember is that Often the people who do these whack jobs are disa...

11:03

PKRs giant slayer Ali Biju awaits GE challenge in Saratok Hornbill Unleashed

If any Barisan Nasional (BN) rural seat should fall in the 14th general election (GE14), it will most likely be Saratok thats the talk within political circles in Sarawak. Why? Saratok BN is a mess. The party representing the ruling coalition in Saratok, the Progressive Democratic Party (PDP), formerly known as SPDP, is the []

11:02

Sarawak committed to amend land code to accommodate native practice, CM says Hornbill Unleashed

Chief Minister Datuk Patinggi Abang Johari Openg today said that the state government is committed to amend the Sarawak Land Code that will give the force of law to the practices of pemakai menoa and pulau galau, which the natives regard as their customary rights (NCR) lands. He said a Bill to amend the land []

11:02

Voon lambasts education minister for intimidating teachers Hornbill Unleashed

Parti Keadilan Rakyat (PKR) National vice-chairwomen Voon Shiak Ni yesterday lambasted Education Minister Datuk Seri Mahdzir Khalid for telling teachers not to vote for the opposition if they want to keep their jobs. Delivering an intimidating statement to teachers is unacceptable and an insult to the noble profession and intelligence of teachers, she said in []

11:02

Call for fast approval of NCR land deal Hornbill Unleashed

Eighteen community leaders from Tamin, led by Ulu Oya Pakoh Area Development Committee (ADC) chairman Henry Kanyan, want the state government to expedite approval of their rental agreement on native customary rights (NCR) land in their joint venture (JV) with two companies for land development. They submitted the proposal to the government in 2016, among []

11:02

Pakatan Harapan Sarawak surprised that state still in second phase of talks on devolution of power Hornbill Unleashed

Pakatan Harapan (PH) Sarawak is baffled that the state is still in the second phase of pursuing devolution of power from the federal government. Its chairman Chong Chieng Jen recalled that the state government was already into the second phase of negotiations for devolution of power before the passing of former chief minister Pehin Sri []

11:02

Dr M: Review MA63, Sabah, Swak not like other states Hornbill Unleashed

The agreement between the federal government and Sabah and Sarawak needs to be reviewed to give the two East Malaysian states greater autonomy and development, Dr Mahathir Mohamad said. The Pakatan Harapan prime ministerial candidate said this was because Sabah and Sarawak had entered into the Malaysia Agreement, made in July 1963, as partners and []

11:02

Sarawaks river systems offer vast hydro power potential Hornbill Unleashed

Sarawak is endowed with many big river systems with vast untapped renewable hydro power potential of 20,000MW, said Deputy Chief Minister Datuk Amar Awang Tengah Ali Hasan. According to him, the state government has identified 14 economically viable sites which can generate approximately 8,000MW of electricity if developed. The development of these hydro power dams []

11:01

EC to leave case of suspect voters in Wangsa Maju to cops Hornbill Unleashed

The Election Commission (EC) is leaving it to the police to take the necessary action on an allegation of suspicious voter registration in the Wangsa Maju parliamentary constituency. EC chairman Tan Sri Mohd Hashim Abdullah said this was because the case involved criminal offence under the Penal Code and the National Registration Act 1959 (Act []

11:01

CROCODILE ZAHID THE NEXT PM IF UMNO WINS GE14? MAHATHIRS DAUGHTER MARINA DROPS BOMBSHELL Hornbill Unleashed

With Malaysias general election due to take place by August of this year, the ruling party has already begun making big promises and dragging the opposition through the mud. But at a time of unparalleled distrust of those in charge of the country, it might not be enough to win them power yet again. Malaysians []

08:31

America's Awkward "Pivot" to Asia: US-Cambodia Confrontation Widens Land Destroyer

January 25, 2018 (Joseph Thomas - NEO) - The so-called "Pivot to Asia" initiated under the administration of US President Barack Obama as a means of reinvigorating US influence across Asia Pacific vis--vis China has resulted in a backlash against tired US policies predicated on "democracy promotion," "rights advocacy" and increasingly meaningless economic and military ties between Washington and the nations of Southeast Asia.


From a "pivot" that was presented as a means to win over allies across Asia through economic trade and regional security underwritten by US military might, under the administration of current US President Donald Trump, US foreign policy has shifted decidedly toward a coercive and punitive posture to reestablish Washington's influence.

It can be argued, however, that the "pivot" was from the beginning, merely window dressing for a policy that was little more than a highly focused effort to coerce and punish nations for moving out of Washington's sphere of influence, and into Beijing's.

In Cambodia, this backlash against US intentions has been particularly acute. The Cambodian government under Prime Minister Hun Sen has shuttered and expelled US State Department-funded fronts posing as nongovernmental organisations (NGOs) including media organisations, as well as arrested opposition leaders and disbanded the opposition's political party.

US Strikes Back 

In turn, the US has imposed visa restrictions on individuals within the Cambodian government involved in the crackdown on US-backed political activity in the country.

Reuters in its article, "U.S. to deny visas to Cambodian officials over opposition crackdown," would report:
The United States said on Wednesday it would restrict entry to people involved in the Cambodian governments actions to undermine democracy, including the dissolution of the main opposition party and imprisonment of its leader. 
...

03:35

Agni V: The Asian Missile Race Heats Up OrientalReview.org

The situation is exceptionally dangerous because all four countries involved are nuclear powers, but there are also other tangential consequences relating to the peripheral players of Iran, North Korea, and Japan.

The post Agni V: The Asian Missile Race Heats Up appeared first on OrientalReview.org.

03:00

Washington New Defense Strategy: Keep Russia, China Down New Eastern Outlook

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One thing can be said about the new Pentagon National Defense Strategy document just released under the name of Defense Secretary Jim Mattis. It is honest about what the target of US military policy is going forward. Washington military policy is explicitly aimed to keep China and Russia from developing any alternative counter-pole to unchallenged US military and political supremacy. The new document lays this out in no uncertain terms. The details are notable and show the disarray that is Washington today, as its once-firm grip on world power disintegrates.

creating a security environment more complex and volatile than any we have experienced in recent memory. Inter-state strategic competition, not terrorism, is now the primary concern in US national security.

To refer to the period as one of strategic atrophy is not entirely accurate for the power that has waged wars non-stop, direct and surrogate, from Asia to the Middle East to covert regime change operations around the world since it invaded Afghanistan in October 2001. Honest is the statement that the US strategic competitive military advantage has been eroding. This erosion, however is a direct consequence of the erosion of the US economy and the increasingly desperate efforts of Washington to dictate to the world according to their wishes and not respecting sovereignty of nations or peoples.

The key phrase is Inter-state strategic competition, not terrorism, is now the primary concern in U.S. national security. What is this inter-state strategic competition that relegates the so-called war on terrorism to the back seat in priority? It is, simply said, the emergence of significant economic, technological and military powers and alliances that feel strong enough to assert their own national interest. For the Pentagon, which operates under the 1992 Wolfowitz Doctrine, strategic rivals to US sole superpower dominance, is not to be.

In 1992, Pentagon policy unofficially be...

02:42

Demolishing Palestinian schools a quiet population transfer +972 Magazine

By destroying schools in Palestinian villages in Area C and elsewhere, Israel is forcing Palestinians to make a cruel choice  between their land and their childrens futures.

Students sit in a classroom at school in the Jahalin Bedouin community of Khan Al-Ahmar, West Bank, February 22, 2017. (Faiz Abu Rmeleh/Activestills.org)

Students sit in a classroom at school in the Jahalin Bedouin community of Khan Al-Ahmar, West Bank, February 22, 2017. (Faiz Abu Rmeleh/Activestills.org)

When the children of Beit Tamar, a village south-east of Bethlehem, left their improvised schoolhouse for winter vacation about two weeks ago, they did not know if the building would still be standing when they came back.

To call the building a school is to exaggerate. It is comprised of five concrete rooms on the top of a hill, constructed by the villages residents, who also built the road to the school.

[tmwinpost]

Last August, we asked the army for permission to build a school for the children in the village, Hassan Brigiah says on our way to the site. We didnt receive an answer, and after we talked with a lawyer, we decided to set up six caravans to serve as classrooms. The army came and dismantled the caravans. While they were doing this I said to them, but you didnt give us an answer at all! It didnt help. We decided to build a few classrooms out of concrete, and in the meantime, a lawyer managed to get an order to prevent them from bei...

01:06

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