Writers Withdraw From PEN Gala to Protest Award to Charlie Hebdo

Glenn Greenwald writes

As I was close to finishing my own story, The New York Times published a long article last night  about the rather intense and fascinating controversy that has erupted inside PEN America, the group long devoted to defending writers’ freedom of expression from attacks by governments. In essence, numerous prominent writers who were to serve as “table heads,” or who are longtime PEN members, have withdrawn from the group’s annual awards gala and otherwise expressed anger over PEN’s decision to bestow its annual Freedom of Expression Courage Award to Charlie Hebdo.

read on at



How the Tory Press in Britain are preparing to stage a coup

Adam Ramsay writes:

Anyone could be forgiven for thinking that Westminster has been replaced with a bouncy castle, and our political class with hysterical children. As the long anticipated rise of the SNP looms closer into sight, the Conservative press seems to have wet itself in fear.

The Daily Mail front page on Saturday shrieked that Nicola Sturgeon is “The most dangerous woman in Britain”. The Times’ front page story declared that Labour is panicking and likely to run to the left after the SNP leaders’ debate victory. The Telegraph gave up on any remaining pretence of journalistic standards, and ran a story about a conversation between the First Minister and the French Ambassador without asking either of them for a quote on it (if they had, they’d have found that both deny it).

read on by opening this link at open democracy


Egypt Spate of detainee deaths points to rampant abuse at Cairo’s Mattareya Police Station

A string of deaths in custody has thrown the spotlight on torture and horrific detention conditions at a police station in the Mattareya district of Cairo where at least three people died last week, said Amnesty International.

Two of the deaths took place on the same day last week and according to the forensic authority in Cairo, one of the bodies bore marks consistent with torture or other ill-treatment. Since April 2014 at least nine detainees have died at Mattareya Police Station according to information gathered by Amnesty International, yet so far investigations have been half-hearted and no one has been held accountable.

Read on at



As the Empire Crashes on the Shores of History, We Call on Its Intelligentsia Urgently to Man the Lifeboats

History is being made, or remade, as we speak.

Upon the death of King Abdulla of Saudi Arabia, I wrote about the “winds of change” [http://www.counterpunch.org/2015/02/09/the-winds-of-change-in-egypt/] in the Middle-East, and how that would impact the desultory régime in Egypt. The significance of the change of leadership there wasn’t the fact of the accession of King Salman to the throne, but the coming of age of a new generation as his sons take over all the most importance political positions, cementing this power with the eldest, Mohamed bin Salman, becoming deputy crown prince. These relatively young men take over a seething Kingdom with 3 million Twitter users tweeting 2 million tweets a day. Mujtahid, for instance, is a pseudonym for an insider twitter account which regularly posts royal family secrets and receives mountains of critical messages back. Abdulla’s police state had repressed just about every aspect of the country, in effect to no avail. Strangely it found it too controversial to close down the Twittersphere.






Netanyahu’s US foreign policy gambit fails

If Hill Republicans thought Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s Tuesday address would build broad support for having Congress review any nuclear deal with Iran, they thought wrong.



And Obama’s approval ratings rise as a direct result of Netanhayu’s unprecedented speech to Congress


What the point of it was is unclear since Obama was always going to veto the bill