The Liberation of Afghanistan

With the humiliating defeat of Uncle Sam and the cowardly departure of the Afghan President, the Taliban is going to announce an interim government shortly. It has been a swift and relatively peaceful takeover of control by the Taliban and nobody needs to fear retaliation or revenge in this regard. No need to evacuate embassy staff or other foreigners from Afghanistan either. The Taliban spokesman has issued the following guaranty:

“We assure all diplomats, embassies, consulates, and charitable workers, whether they are international or national that not only no problem will be created for them on the part of IEA but a secure environment will be provided to them, Inshallah.”

Background image is courtesy of AP, modified by me (click to enlarge).

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When History Repeats Itself

Two iconic images taken 46 years apart. The US Embassy staff fleeing from Saigon and Kabul respectively. After 20 years of useless fighting, the defeat and humiliation is now complete!

Images via Twitter, modified by me (click to enlarge).

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Julian Assange and WikiLeaks — Story of a Whistleblower


The decision not to extradite Julian Assange to the US is unlikely to be the end of his struggle. For the past 10 years, a team of reporters has followed Assange and the WikiLeaks network.

In their first film in 2011, they portrayed Julian Assange and his team as transparency activists, fighting for a new, open relationship between citizens and information. Since then, Wikileaks has come under constant pressure from the US government. But the site nevertheless continued to publish secret and explosive information that has both illuminated and shaped our world.

In 2013, the team met Julian Assange again, interviewing him in the Ecuadorian Embassy in London. At the time, Assange had no idea that he was going to spend the next seven years in these rooms, observed by surveillance cameras.

In 2016, Wikileaks played a crucial role in the election of US President Donald Trump. In 2017, it tried to similarly influence the French election. Throughout the years, the reporters have kept filming, talking to Julian Assange’s father, who regularly visits him in London’s Belmarsh prison, as well as to his lawyers.

Today, Julian Assange and WikiLeaks are at a turning point in their history. To his detractors, Assange is a spy and a traitor, and deserves his fate. His supporters say the US extradition request is a serious and unprecedented attack on the freedom of information, protected by the US constitution. And who’s to say that the news outlets that have collaborated with WikiLeaks won’t be prosecuted, as well?

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Another War Criminal has Met His Maker

Former U.S. Defence Secretary Donald Rumsfeld will be remembered as being the architect of the war in Iraq (nicknamed ‘Operation Iraqi Freedom’), for his introduction of an advanced torture program (known as ‘enhanced interrogation techniques’), and the killing of more than a million Iraqi civilians. Sadly, Rumsfeld never had to go on trial for his blatant crimes against humanity.

Background images are courtesy of Politico.com and AmericasLastDays.com, modified by me (click image to enlarge).

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The Great G7 Summer Excursion 2021

Oxfam activists wearing papier mache heads depicting G7 leaders perform during a protest at Swanpool Beach near Falmouth, during the G7 summit, in Cornwall, Britain, June 12, 2021. Photo by Reuters (click image to enlarge).

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Mapping Israeli Occupation

For the fourth time in 13 years, Israel has launched a major military offensive on the Gaza Strip. In its latest assault that began on May 10, at least 220 Palestinians, including 63 children, have been killed in Gaza. At least 12 people have died in Israel, including two children.

In the following series of graphics Al Jazeera describes why Israel’s military occupation of Palestine remains at the core of this decades-long conflict and how Israeli colonialism shapes every part of Palestinians’ lives.

Map is courtesy of Al Jazeera — click to enlarge.

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Washington Has Enabled Israeli Extremism

Two weeks ago, Jerusalem was rocked by violence as bands of Jewish Israeli extremists rampaged through Palestinian neighborhoods of East Jerusalem chanting “death to Arabs.” Making their way through the city, mobs hurled rocks at Palestinian homes and assaulted passersby suspected of being Arabs or leftists, even stopping cars along the main north-south road that divides Israeli West Jerusalem from occupied East Jerusalem to check whether drivers were Jews or Arabs, usually subjecting the latter to an impromptu beating.

The unrest began on April 13—around the start of Ramadan—when Israeli authorities blocked off the steps to the Old City’s iconic Damascus Gate in Palestinian East Jerusalem. The seemingly arbitrary move sparked several days of clashes between Palestinian protesters and Israeli security forces. The closure had struck a particular nerve with Palestinians in East Jerusalem, who have been subjected to years of marginalization and denationalization at the hands of Israel’s government and have few spaces left in a city where systematic eradication of Palestinian national, civic, and cultural institutions has become government policy.

The police crackdown was, unsurprisingly, one-sided—resulting in the arrests and beatings of numerous Palestinian youths while Jewish attackers went largely unpunished. Israeli Minister of Public Security Amir Ohana—a member of Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s Likud party—condemned attacks by Palestinians on Jews but made no mention of Jewish Israeli extremists attacking Palestinians in Jerusalem. The scenes were reminiscent of the wave of attacks earlier this year by extremist Jewish Israeli settlers on Palestinians in the occupied West Bank, during which Israeli soldiers often stood idly by.

Washington’s response to the violence was notably muted. As Jewish Israeli extremists attacked Palestinians in Jerusalem, the U.S. State Department issued a generic statement that smacked of both sides-ism, rejecting the “rhetoric of extremist protestors chanting hateful and violent slogans” and calling for calm—but failing to identify the extremists or their targets. It was equally striking that hardly a single member of Congress could muster even a generic condemnation of violence perpetrated by Jewish Israeli extremists, particularly given how traditionally vocal they are whenever violence emanates from Palestinians. But none of it was surprising. Indeed, Washington remains firmly in denial about the growing trend of extremism in Israeli politics and society—a reality that has both enabled and fueled it. (Source: Foreign Policy)

“The IDF will continue to strike and bring complete silence for the long term.” (Quote by Israeli Defence Minister Benny Gantz)

Background image is courtesy of Getty Images, modified by me.

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American Hypocrisy and Complicity

American political language does not have the capacity to address Palestine because it is disabled by white supremacy.

By Mariam Barghouti

Over the past few weeks, as the Israeli colonial forces escalated their brutal violence against the Palestinians of occupied Jerusalem, many hoped for some kind of a sharp reaction from the new Biden administration. But that did not come. Instead, we once again heard about how “deeply concerned” the US State Department is about “unilateral steps that exacerbate tensions” and that both Israeli and Palestinian officials need “to act decisively to de-escalate tensions”.

Some Palestinians also expected more from the “progressive” members of the US legislature. But they too dressed their words in euphemisms. Representative André Carson tweeted that he is “extremely dismayed by Israel’s efforts to forcefully evict Palestinians from their homes”. Representative Marie Newman called on the State Department to “immediately condemn these violations of international law”. Representative Mark Pocan co-authored a letter with others, expressing “deep concern about Israel’s imminent plan to forcibly displace nearly 2,000 Palestinians”.

And for her part, Representative Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez called the Israeli army’s actions “inhumane” and said “the US must show more leadership in safeguarding Palestinian rights”. Just a month ago, in an interview with Rabbi Michael Miller, head of the Jewish Community Relations Council of New York, the “progressive” congresswoman also talked about “valuing a process where all parties are respected” and building “a path to peace”.

Conspicuously absent from all these statements are words that objectively assess the situation in Palestine, such as “occupation”, “apartheid”, “settler-colonialism”, and “ethnic cleansing”. (Source: Al Jazeera)

Background image is courtesy of AFP/Ahmad Gharabli, cropped and resized by me.

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The Psychology of Fact-Checking

Distortions and outright lies by politicians and pundits have become so common that major news outlets like the Associated Press, CNN, BBC, Fox News, and Washington Post routinely assign journalists and fact-checkers to verify claims made during stump speeches and press briefings. The motivation to uncover falsehoods and misleading statements taken out of context is laudable. But when it comes to real-world complexities, the trouble is that people often see different things when looking at the same event, a phenomenon repeatedly documented by psychologists.

Laboratory studies reveal that, when shown a video of a group of protesters, people see either a peaceful protest or an unruly mob blocking pedestrian access, depending on their sociopolitical beliefs. The world outside the lab shows similar biased perception: For example, 68 percent of Republicans consider the videotaped demonstrations in Portland, Ore., Kenosha, Wisc., and New York City to be riots, versus only 30 percent of Democrats, according to a Fox News poll released in September. Journalists and fact-checkers are human beings subject to the same psychological biases as everyone else—and their analyses of what constitute “facts” is affected by their own political and ideological values, resulting in what psychologists term selective perception. (Source: Scientific American)

Background image is courtesy of Associated Press, modified by me.

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Sometimes Justice Prevails

The jury in the murder trial of Derek Chauvin found the former Minneapolis police officer guilty on Tuesday in the killing of George Floyd, a Black man, in a decision US President Joe Biden said he hoped would become a “moment of significant change”.

The 45-year-old Chauvin, who was filmed on May 25 last year with his knee on Floyd’s neck for nine minutes and 29 seconds, was found guilty on all three counts: second-degree murder, third-degree murder and second-degree manslaughter. (Source: Al Jazeera)

Watch the full video: Choking George Floyd to Death (Warning: Very Graphic!)

Background image is courtesy of New York Times, modified by me.

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