"The organizers of the #ausnahmslos campaign don’t deny that the scale and coordination of the assaults in Cologne were alarming. But they point out that sexual harassment is a far more common occurrence in Germany than is typically acknowledged, especially at traditional German events like Munich’s Oktoberfest and Cologne’s Karneval, where large crowds tend to gather under the influence of massive amounts of alcohol. A 2014 study from the European Union Agency for Fundamental Rights found that one in three women in Germany has been the victim of physical or sexual violence (or both) since the age of 15.

“If there’s anything we can gain from what happened in Cologne, it’s that we start openly talking about the issue of sexual violence against women, regardless of who the perpetrators are,” said Elke Ferner, the parliamentary state secretary at the Federal Ministry for Family Affairs, Senior Citizens, Women, and Youth, who signed the #ausnahmslos campaign’s open letter. “When you make it a problem involving people from North Africa, of the Muslim faith, you’re making the problem smaller than it actually is.”

The Cologne assaults have exposed what lawyers and feminists say are serious deficits in Germany’s penal code. Sexual assault is criminally punishable in Germany only when the act involves force — in other words, when violence is used or threatened, or when the victim is in a defenseless situation.

This legal definition has perverse effects in practice. Consider the assaults in Cologne, where many women reported they were groped between the legs and under their clothes. Because the perpetrators used the element of surprise and not violence, German courts would likely not consider them to have committed sexual assault. The men (if they are ever identified) would probably only be charged for the theft that accompanied the touching.

Full article on foreignpolicy.com
I read The Richness of Life by Stephen J Gould about a year ago... It was a fascinating discovery. Now the late Richard Levins is enticing me to read his work.

Is human behavior controlled by our genes? Richard Levins reviews ‘The Social Conquest of Earth
Immigration Scandals

From April, any non-EU citizen earning below £35,000 after five years of work will be denied indefinite leave to remain. (A hint of how that might be enforced came on 17 January, when Dr Paul Hamilton, an American Shakespeare scholar, discovered that his application for further leave to remain had been rejected when immigration officials arrested him at his home in Stratford-upon-Avon and sent him to Morton Hall immigration removal centre, where he remains today.)

“Social media are a trap”

The Polish-born sociologist Zygmunt Bauman:

"The question of identity has changed from being something you are born with to a task: you have to create your own community. But communities aren’t created, and you either have one or you don’t. What the social networks can create is a substitute. The difference between a community and a network is that you belong to a community, but a network belongs to you. You feel in control. You can add friends if you wish, you can delete them if you wish. You are in control of the important people to whom you relate. People feel a little better as a result, because loneliness, abandonment, is the great fear in our individualist age. But it’s so easy to add or remove friends on the internet that people fail to learn the real social skills, which you need when you go to the street, when you go to your workplace, where you find lots of people who you need to enter into sensible interaction with. Pope Francis, who is a great man, gave his first interview after being elected to Eugenio Scalfari, an Italian journalist who is also a self-proclaimed atheist. It was a sign: real dialogue isn’t about talking to people who believe the same things as you. Social media don’t teach us to dialogue because it is so easy to avoid controversy… But most people use social media not to unite, not to open their horizons wider, but on the contrary, to cut themselves a comfort zone where the only sounds they hear are the echoes of their own voice, where the only things they see are the reflections of their own face. Social media are very useful, they provide pleasure, but they are a trap."

From an interview with Bauman by El País online, 21 January 2016

Our Wound Is Not So Recent

Prominent French philosopher Alain Badiou, in his new book about the terrorist attacks of November 13 in Paris, recalls the pressing need of offering the world’s youth, who are highly frustrated by capitalism that does not honour its promises, an ideological alternative. He tries to shed light upon the enigmatic death impulse that drives the jihadists to kill people indiscriminately. It is popularly argued that a type of radicalisation, which builds upon the social and religious causes, yields unprecedented violence. Badiou, however, sees these attacks through different lenses; for him, they are symptomatic carnages of our time where there is no limit to global capitalism. 
Released on January 11 by Fayard.

The  Era of Predatory Bureaucratization – An Interview with David Graeber 

"In England, it is fascinating to analyse the strategies of the different political parties. Britain got rid of the industrial apparatus and is now trying to kill the university system, so what is going to be left to export? For now, it’s all based on finance and real estate. Why? Why is it that every rich person in the world wants to own a house in London? There are many other beautiful European cities. What’s the appeal? I realised two things: first, you can get everything you could, possibly want, in England, thanks to a docile and subservient working class. I had a friend whose job was to deliver lobsters at any time of the night. Secondly, and most importantly: if you come from Bahrein, Russia or Hong Kong, something could still go wrong, there could still be social unrest. Not in England, it is perceived: the historical defeat of the English working class is Great Britain’s main export product."

من رئيس الجمهورية الى آخر صحفي برتبة مخبر "يساندون التحركات السلمية ويدينون الاعتداء على الأملاك الخاصة والعامة".....لا شيء جديد في هذا، فهذا ما كان قد قاله بن علي ذات جانفي 2011، وبرهان بسيس ذات ديسمبر 2010 وبشرى بالحاج حميدة ومختار الطريفي ذات 13 جانفي 2011...لا شيء جديد حقا....

الجديد أن النعرة الأخلاقية المدافعة عن الملكية الخاصة (وليست هناك ملكية خاصة إلا ملكية طبقة البورجوازيين، فالبقية لا يملكون سوى أوهام الملكية) قد تسربت لأكثر الأنصار السابقين للحراك الثوري وأكثرهم حماسة لاستعادة المسار الثوري. فكأنما هؤلاء قد استبطنوا الماتراكاج الاعلامي بحيث لا تخلو مساندتهم، هم أيضا، للحراك الانتفاضي الحالي من لازمة "التنديد بالمندسين واللصوص والارهابيين"، بحجة أن أعمال النهب ضد المغازات الكبيرة أو حرق مقرات البوليس "تشوه الحراك أمام الرأي العام". وما هو هذا الرأي العام؟
الرأي العام، أصدقائي، ليس سوى القيم والأفكار العمومية والأخلاق...التي يكرسها النظام الاجتماعي السائد. وإذا كان هناك تمرد حقيقي ضد النظام فهو بالضرورة تمرد ضد هذا الرأي العام بالذات وحججه وأفكاره المسبقة وطريقته في فهم الأشياء...
وما هي الثورة إن لم تكن بصقة في وجه الحذلقات الثقافية لمثقفي النظام وفي وجه تقاليد الخضوع والتقديس الخرافي للملكية وروح السلمية المستكينة....
المطلوب ليس الانجرار وراء الادانات الأخلاقوية للشبيبة المنتفضة والمشاركة في التركيز الاعلامي على هذه أو تلك من الأحداث العرضية لتضخيمها ومن ثم زرع التخويف والترتيب لتبرير مزيد القمع واجراءات التضييق وخنق كل تمرد احتجاجي...
المطلوب خاصة هو التنبيه من الأخطاء التي سقطت فيها سابقا الحركة الثورية وتقديم أفاق جديدة على ضوء التجربة السابقة....والأهم هو خلق حالة تضامنية بين كل أقسام وفئات وشرائح وجهات الحركة الاحتجاجية وتوحيد مطالباتها

محمد المثلوثي، ٢٣ يناير ٢٠١٦
"Britain has been cozying up to Russian money for years, and a dead spy isn’t going to change that."

"The present era has been defined by globalization, financial globalization above all, and true to form, Britain has positioned itself in recent years as the global capital for capital. The city of London has become a hub for the world’s money, clean and dirty; London property is now the investment of choice for the world’s leading plutocrats and kleptocrats. Dean Acheson’s 1962 quip that Britain has lost an empire and not found a role is pretty but untrue — the role is evident in the glass skyscrapers and condo buildings now planted across the capital city."

Initially, the British government "blocked all efforts for a public inquiry, seemingly for fear of jeopardizing its trade ties with Russia."

"Foreign Secretary William Hague preemptively submitted a public interest immunity certificate, a move designed to keep the government’s classified files on Litvinenko from being made public."

"The home secretary then claimed an inquest would incur too many “public expenses.” The lawyers for Litvinenko’s family argued, in reply, that the 'British government, like the Russian government, is conspiring to get this inquest closed down in exchange for substantial trade interests which we know Cameron is pursuing.'"

"'The inquest must not sour relations with Moscow,” an editorial in the London Timesdeclared when the inquest was launched. "'We have important investments to protect'."

"When the Chinese bump off a dissident in London, what will we do? The satirical website “Russia in Your Face” caught the present mood best: It portrays the British Foreign Ministry meekly requesting that Putin carry out assassinations in the U.K. somewhat less conspicuously than has been his habit. The portrait is only as distorted as the U.K.’s current financial role on the global stage."

Full article is on foreignpolicy.com

"We were walking through Neukölln, a former West Berlin neighborhood and longtime immigrant enclave... Today, people from more than 160 countries call Neukölln home, andjournalists and politicians take Uzun’s tours to better understand one of Berlin’s most diverse neighborhoods.

This is where Uzun takes her tour groups. Here, she tells them how the Rixdorf quarter of Neukölln has actually been home to immigrants for centuries: In the 18th century, King Friedrich invited Bohemian Protestants to help settle the land here, even freeing them from taxes and exempting them from military service.

“They were allowed to keep their language,” said Uzun, pointing out a street sign still in Czech. “It took them 140 years to really integrate.”

Today, more than 40 percent of the neighborhood’s 325,000 residents have an immigrant background, which Germany defines as either being from a different country or having foreign parents or grandparents; about a quarter of the residents don’t have a German passport, according to Neukölln’s district office.

In recent years, the neighborhood has become home to young Germans attracted to more affordable rents. Cocktail bars and restaurants followed, and what started as a place settled by foreign workers brought in to rebuild a war-torn country has become a popular part of Berlin.

 Today, about 15 percent of the neighborhood’s residents are unemployed — higher than Berlin’s overall unemployment rate of 11 percent and more than double the German average of around 6 percent. About a third of the area’s residents are on welfare. And while the neighborhood may feel integrated into the rest of the city, many of its residents say they still don’t feel like full-fledged members of German society.

“Because of our demography, Germany is forced to be a land of immigrants,” wrote Heinz Buschkowsky, Neukölln’s longtime mayor, in his bestselling 2012 book, Neukölln Is Everywhere. Buschkowsky meant that Germany’s aging population and low birthrate at the time he was writing would require the country to import labor. But in reality, Germany has been a land of immigrants from the beginning.

For decades, in fact, the country’s policies actively worked against immigrants trying to build a permanent home: Authorities granted guest workers temporary visas and, in some cases, restricted where they could live. Yet many immigrants, like Uzun and her family, did stay. Today, about a quarter of Germany’s population has an immigrant background, according to a study from the Federal Agency for Civic Education released in June. Of those with immigrant backgrounds, nearly 18 percent are Turkish. And many call Neukölln home.

[Uzul moved with her family to Germany 40 years ago. Yet she still has to renew her German visa every few years] “I’ve always been treated like an outsider here,” she said.

Full article on foreignpolicy.com
Is Tunisia on the brink of another uprising

يوميات الانتفاضة
عن منظمة العمل الشيوعي تونس
- القصرين : تواصل اعتصام أصحاب الشهائد المعطلين عن العمل بمقر الولاية ، تجدد الاحتجاجات بالقصرين المدينة و تواصل المواجهات في مفترق حي النور و حي الزهور أساسا. كر و فر بين المحتجين و بين وحدات التدخل التي تجابههم بالغاز المسيل للدموع و خراطيم المياه الساخنة. 
- تالة : تجدد المواجهات بين المحتجين و البوليس صبيحة اليوم 20 جانفي ثم انسحاب كلي لوحدات تدخل الشرطة و الحرس من المعتمدية و الجيش يتدخل لحماية المؤسسات.
الاحتجاجات تعم الولاية بأغلب معتمدياتها : سبيبة و فريانة (و تلابت ) و الماجل بالعباس و فوسانة و حرق العجلات المطاطية بكافة الطرق الرئيسية.
- قفصة : غلق الطريق و احتجاز شاحنات نقل الفسفاط في بلخير و القطار. 
- المزونة : الأهالي يحتجون و المعتمد ينسحب من مقر عمله. 
- المكناسي : الاحتجاجات المطالبة بالشغل تعم المعتمدية و مواجهات مع قوات الحرس
- زغوان : المحتجون يغلقون الطريق الرئيسية رقم 3.
- الفحص : محتجون يطالبون بإسقاط الحكومة. 
- تونس العاصمة : مسيرة مساندة للتحركات في القصرين و اقتحام عشرات الأشخاص يقتحمون مقر ولاية تونس. 
صفاقس : وفاة مواطن أصيل القيروان أضرم النار بجسده بمقر فرقة الحرس الديواني. 
- سليانة : احتجاجات الأهالي و إشعال العجلات المطاطية أمام مقر الولاية. 
- سوسة : مسيرة مساندة للتحركات المطالبة بالتشغيل و تجمع أمام مقر الولاية.
فلننشر و لنعمم يوميات الاحتجاجات أمام تعالي أصوات التظليل و الدعاية لخيارات النظام و التشريع لقمعه.. فلننشر و لنعمم في كل آن و موقع يوميات المتغنين بالشغل و الحرية و الكرامة فنضالنا ضد السلطة هو في أحد أوجهه نضال الذاكرة ضد النسيان..
20 جانفي 2016

How a Medieval Muslim thinker invented Sociology

History is "the record of human society, or world civilization; of the changes that take place in the nature of that society...; of revolutions and uprisings by one set of people against another, with the resulting kingdoms and states with their various ranks; of the different activities and occupations of men, whether for gaining their livelihood or in various sciences and crafts; and in general, of all the transformations that society undergoes by its very nature.."
Ibn Khaldoun, a 14th-century Arab historian

British People are Proud of Colonialism and the British Empire, poll finds

See also

"Interrogation under torture was widespread. Many of the men were anally raped, using knives, broken bottles, rifle barrels, snakes and scorpions. A favourite technique was to hold a man upside down, his head in a bucket of water, while sand was rammed into his rectum with a stick. Women were gang-raped by the guards. People were mauled by dogs and electrocuted. The British devised a special tool which they used for first crushing and then ripping off testicles. They used pliers to mutilate women's breasts. They cut off inmates' ears and fingers and gouged out their eyes. They dragged people behind Land Rovers until their bodies disintegrated. Men were rolled up in barbed wire and kicked around the compound."

The British Empire in the Middle East

(From a book launch I recorded in 2006 and broadcast on Resonance FM radion)

5 of the worst atrocities carried out by the British Empire

Capitalist "democracy"

The 62 billionaires and the truth about inequality

A note by Michael Roberts
This is what Oxfam say in a footnote in their report: “The total wealth of the top 1% in 2015 was $125 trillion, approximately $1.7m for each of the 72 million people in the top 1%. The total wealth of the bottom 90% was $31 trillion, approximately $5,000 for each of the 648
million people in this group. Oxfam calculation based on Credit Suisse (2015) ‘Global Wealth Databook 2015’.
CCA04D4BB9B9ADD5″ This is clearly wrong. It should be 6.48bn not 648m, I think.
"Has Cameron forgotten that it was his government which cut funding for English classes in 2011? So why the U-turn? On the one hand his latest statement on Muslim women learning English is a blatant threat: 'if you don't improve your fluency, that could affect your ability to stay in the UK', or again that women on spousal visas could be deported if they failed to learn English by the time that visa ran out. At the same time, while he claims 'white-saviour' fashion to be protecting women from the effects of 'Muslim patriarchy' he is imposing the vicious patriarchy of the British state to threaten them with deportation for not learning English as a result of this same 'Muslim patriarchy'. These are the Tories' well-known 'British values'. The new rules (which Cameron justifies using incorrect figures) will cause enormous trauma and insecurity for newly married women who arrive in this country and also for older women who find it difficult to learn a language.

But this new initiative is obviously far more than simply a threat. It comes out of the increasing targeting of Muslim women for surveillance, not only because they are being seen as potential terrorists but because they are regarded as potential informants and a means of penetrating Muslim families and communities in the interests of surveillance. This is part of a network of such initiatives in the US, UK, France and Germany, sponsored by State Department (look out for more on this on our website soon). In the UK, as FWFP has reported, the state infrastructure for this type of surveillance has been set up over the years through the establishment of Multi-agency Risk Assessment Conferences (MARACs) which on the face of it deal with violence against women but are, by their very nature, instruments of surveillance, and the 'Troubled Families' initiative. The new English classes will serve this purpose too." 

Source: freedom without fear platform
See also 
The culturalization of social antagonisms. 

Anti-Muslim Racism from Above and From Below

Egypt: Five years after the uprising

"We shouldn’t reduce 11 February 2011 to a coup. It wasn’t a revolution, but it wasn’t just a coup either. It was a popular rising that lost the initiative because it had no positive agenda or demand. ‘Bread, freedom, social justice’ aren’t political demands, just aspirations and slogans. A social movement might have made these slogans into demands by pressuring the government to take specific steps. But a movement that wants these desiderata provided by government and, at the same time, wants the government to clear off has a coherence problem. The only demand that mattered politically was ‘Mubarak, irhal!’ The army commanders captured the initiative by co-opting that demand to make it work for them. Almost certainly they did so because it had been their own undeclared objective for some time."
Hugh Roberts, LRB. Read full article here
I too remember very well the moment when my dad woke me up that night to see the images of the bombing on TV. I too still feel anger and hatred towards that barbarism of the "said democracies" as Antoon put it.  I feel more anger now when I remember and read about what followed: the sanctions, the invasion and occupation, the civil war, ISIS, the indifference and complicity, the hypocrisy and denial...

An interview with the Iraqi novelist Sinan Antoon

Sinan Antoon and the Gulf War: 25 Years Later

"Watching one’s country and hometown get destroyed sears one’s soul and psyche forever. Those years showed me how barbarism was at the heart of our modern world. Not the barbarism of dictatorship, the barbarism of western liberal democracies, delivered through remote-control and watched comfortably by the citizens of said democracies."
"Yes Israel Is Executing Palestinians Without Trial"

"In 2016 one doesn't have to be Adolf Eichmann to be executed in Israel — it's enough to be a teenage Palestinian girl with scissors [or a boy/man with a stone or a knife].

We should call it like it is: Israel executes people without trial nearly everyday. Any other description is a lie...."

Gideon Levy, Haaretz, 17 January 2016.

The Great Greek Bank Robbery

... and financial terrorism

"There are two confronting Polands of roughly equal strength. One, including the PiS supporters, finds its base in eastern Poland among small, pious farmers and working-class families who have lost jobs and income through the change from a state economy to an often ruthless neoliberalism. The other Poland, usually better educated and better off, is desperate to preserve what it sees as the historic achievement of 1989: the first reasonably stable and prosperous liberal democracy in Polish history.

In western Europe, onlookers hear snatches of Law and Justice rhetoric and conclude that the party can be dismissed as “fascist”. It is not. It stands for an old-fashioned authoritarian nationalism, invoking traditional Catholic values (imprudently, some in the Catholic hierarchy lend PiS support). And, strangely for westerners, this frantically rightwing party is also the party of what remains of the welfare state, standing up for those millions for whom the transition to capitalism has brought only loss and bewilderment."
Neil Ascherson, the Guardian, 17 January 2016
The Far Right Comes to Sweden

"Today, 55 percent of Swedes say immigration is the most important issue; the environment ranks a distant second at 13 percent. This in a country where until just a few years ago no issue could compete with education, health care, or jobs. Swedish politics is now trapped in a vicious circle. The larger the Sweden Democrats grows, the larger immigration looms in the public’s mind, and vice versa.

Three of the four parties that make up the center-right parliamentary bloc have concluded that they can stem the leakage of voters to the Sweden Democrats by taking positions that resemble the new party’s, and now vie to outpace one another in a race to the authoritarian side.
The Sweden Democrats actively cultivate the counter-jihadist conspiracy theory that Europe is facing an invasion of Muslim immigrants, who in time will destroy the welfare state and Swedish culture. Muslim immigration, party leader Jimmie Åkesson once said, is “our greatest foreign threat since World War II.”
"The former Spitting Image writer John O’Farrell says he adheres to the time-honoured maxim that the comic should always be “punching up”, not down. Laughing at the weak is never funny, and there is nobody weaker than a dead child washed up on a beach. As for the second rule, O’Farrell recalls David Attenborough’s advice to the Monty Python team: “Use shock sparingly.”
And perhaps there is a third. If you’re aiming a lethal arrow, be sure to shoot straight at the target. Because if you miss, you might not hurt your enemy: you might just help him instead."
Jonathan Freedland, the Guardian, 15 January 2016

Racism: the achilles heel of middle class liberalism

"I sure as hell would not be able to sleep soundly if I thought my fate rested upon the European liberal middle classes."

See also this analysis

 The Red Flag and the Tricolore
The so-called 'revolution' that was applauded by the Western regimes and media including the Guardian, helped divert and domesticate the uprisings by supporting the forces which maintain the socio-economic status quo by limiting it to political rights, which themselves have been weak (cases of torture and other types of repression have been reported). And to add insult to injury, a Nobel Prize was given to some of the forces.
An open letter to Charlie Hebdo

Funding, Capitalism and NGOs

Nine truths about terrorism that nobody wants to hear.

"Occasional terrorist attacks in the West are virtually inevitable, and odds are, we’ll see more attacks in the coming decades, not fewer. If we want to reduce the long-term risk of terrorism — and reduce its ability to twist Western societies into unrecognizable caricatures of themselves — we need to stop viewing terrorism as shocking and aberrational, and instead recognize it as an ongoing problem to be managed, rather than “defeated.”
Politicians don’t like to say any of this. But we’re not politicians, so let’s look at 10 painful truths."
It is a very good piece. You need a free registration to reead it though.
Note: state terrorism, the major type of terrorism (by Western and non-western states), is ignored in the piece above. Also, Hamas and Hizb Alla are considered "terrorist" organisations.

The Question of Sectarianism in Middle East Politics

Over the centuries there have been many variations and mutations in the ‘orthodox’ as well as the sectarian formations, and the divisions only broke into conflicts when they were politicised into struggles for power or resources. For the most part, various Shi`ite sects lived quietly under Sunni rule, and were, mostly, left alone. Like elsewhere in the pre-modern world, communities were, typically, isolated in separate localities, except in the main cities 
where they often occupied different quarters. Politicisation came with social conflicts, rebellions and geopolitical confrontations

The Ministry of Nostalgia


Keep Calm and Carry On – the sinister message behind the slogan that seduced the nation

"The power of Keep Calm and Carry On comes from a yearning for an actual or imaginary English patrician attitude of stiff upper lips and muddling through. This is, however, something that largely survives only in the popular imagination, in a country devoted to services and consumption, where elections are decided on the basis of house-price value, and given to sudden, mawkish outpourings of sentiment. The poster isn’t just a case of the return of the repressed, it is rather the return of repression itself. It is a nostalgia for the state of being repressed – solid, stoic, public spirited, as opposed to the depoliticised, hysterical and privatised reality of Britain over the last 30 years."
Where Were the Post-Hebdo Free Speech Crusaders as France Spent the Last Year Crushing Free Speech?

"A full year later, it’s still common to hear supporters of western militarism falsely accuse portions of “the left” of having sanctioned or justified the attack on Charlie Hebdo solely on the ground that they refused to cheer for the content of Hebdo’s ideas."
"Mainstream media and politicians are in any case stoking pre-existing anti-Muslim racism and further strengthening the smear campaign against refugees: the Minister President of North Rhine-Westphalia, Hannelore Kraft, has stated that criminal, foreign offenders must be deported. And on the broadcasting network Sat1’s breakfast show, we hear the demand to “defend our values, way of life and beliefs” against “Muslim men”. Meanwhile, the relative silence about the vastly numerous male bystanders in the crowd speaks volumes, as does that as well as over a hundred police officers present at the scene who did nothing to intervene in order to protect the women victims, despite the fact that there was even an undercover policewoman among them, is speaking volumes."

Global Poverty

The Science of (Not) Ending Global Poverty