Watching the Shadows
computer smash

AI, nuclear power and the end of the Earth

Tech companies now acknowledge that they are failing to meet their carbon emission reduction goals because of the mega-computing necessary for artificial intelligence—as if AI were something good and inevitable rather than ultra-dystopian. Meanwhile, the nuclear industry exploits carbon concerns to lubricate its comeback—with even countries like Kenya now planning reactors, amid oppressive and iniquitous social conditions. Even apart from the risk of devastating accidents, the normal functioning of nuclear power constitutes an ongoing disaster due to the dilemmas of waste disposal and the despoliation of indigenous lands by uranium mining. Climate disaster versus nuclear disaster is a false choice posed by omnicidal techno-capitalism. The only way to salvage a dignified human future lies in the abolition of fossil fuels, nuclear power and artificial intelligence alike. So argues Bill Weinberg in Episode 234 of the CounterVortex podcast. (Image: Earth First! Newswire)

Central America
Darién

US-Panama deal to shut down Darién Gap migration route

Immediately upon taking office, Panama’s new President JosĂ© RaĂşl Mulino struck a deal with the United States to shut down the migration route through the DariĂ©n Gap, which sees thousands annually making the perilous jungle trek while seeking to reach North America. The US has committed to cover the cost of repatriation of migrants who illegally enter Panama and to deploy Homeland Security teams on the route. Last year, a record 520,000 migrants risked their lives, often at the hands of human traffickers, to traverse the DariĂ©n Gap, an expanse of roadless jungle stretching some 100 kilometers from Panama’s border with Colombia. (Photo: David González/TNH)

South Asia
Orakzai

Pakistan: cross-country march against counter-terrorism operation

Protestors marched between two towns of Pakistan’s restive Swat district in response to proposed plans by the military for a major new “counter-terrorist” operation in Khyber Pakhtunkhwa province, near the border with Afghanistan. The protest, organized by local groups Ulasi Passon (Public Revolution) and Orakzai Peace Movement, saw thousands marching with white flags and signs reading “We want peace” and “We hate government terrorism.” However, the government reiterated that the operation against militant organizations in the region, dubbed Azm-e-Istehkam (Resolve for Stability), will go ahead. The armed forces insisted that unlike the last major push against the insurgents, Operation Zarb-e-Azb of 2014, the new operation will not result in mass displacement of residents. (Photo via Twitter)

New York City
Yippie

Podcast: Bill Weinberg’s neo-Yippie memoir

In Episode 233 of the CounterVortex podcast, Bill Weinberg recalls his days as a young neo-Yippie in the 1980s. A remnant faction of the 1960s counterculture group adopted a punk aesthetic for the Reagan era, launched the US branch of the Rock Against Racism movement, brought chaos to the streets at Republican and Democratic political conventions, defied the police in open cannabis “smoke-ins”—and won a landmark Supreme Court ruling for free speech. The Yippie clubhouse at 9 Bleecker Street, the hub for all these activities, has long since succumbed to the gentrification of the East Village, but it survived long enough to provide inspiration to a new generation of radical youth during Occupy Wall Street. Listen on SoundCloud or via Patreon. (Photo from the CounterVortex collection)

Africa
west africa

Uranium at issue in Great Game for West Africa

The ruling junta in Niger revoked the operating license of French nuclear fuel producer Orano at one of the world’s largest uranium mines. Russian companies have meanwhile indicated interest in picking up the lease for the giant Imouraren mine. However, exports are stalled by closure of the border with Benin, the vital sea corridor for landlocked Niger, as tensions mount between the two countries. The uranium dispute comes as French and US troops have been forced to withdraw from Niger, and Russian forces have moved in. The Pentagon’s AFRICOM commander Gen. Michael Langley has acknowledged that the US is seeking to establish new bases in neighboring West African countries, including Benin. (Map: Wikivoyage)

Africa
Niger

Niger: jihadis score deadly blow against junta

Authorities in Niger declared three days of national mourning after an ambush on security forces near the village of Tassia resulted in the deaths of at least 20 soldiers and one civilian. Tassia lies in the western Tillabéri region bordering Mali and Burkina Faso, long a stronghold of jihadist​ insurgents. The incident highlights the growing challenges facing the ruling junta one year after it came to power in a July 2023 coup, overthrowing the civilian government led by Mohamed Bazoum. (Map: PCL)

Watching the Shadows
Bialystok

From Baghdad to Bialystok —to Pico-Robertson

In Episode 232 of the CounterVortex podcast, Bill Weinberg examines the politics of the ugly dust-up between pro-Palestinian protesters and local Jewish residents in the Los Angeles neighborhood of Pico-Robertson—and notes the anniversary of June 1941 anti-Jewish pogroms in Bialystok, Poland, and Baghdad, Iraq. Propagandistic and distorted portrayals of the LA protest as mere arbitrary anti-Semitism ignore the fact that the targeted synagogue was hosting a real estate event promoting sale of lands to create “Anglo neighborhoods” in Israel, and probably in the occupied West Bank (which would be a clear violation of international law). On the other hand, insensitivity to (or ignorance of) the historical context(and contemporary context) that makes an angry protest outside a synagogue an inevitably problematic “optic” only abets the propaganda. Listen on SoundCloud or via Patreon. (Photo: The Great Synagogue of Bialystok before it was destroyed by the Nazis in 1941. Via Jewish Historical Institute)

REVOLUTION 9

In a brief memoir written for Canada’s Skunk magazine, CounterVortex editor Bill Weinberg recalls his days as a young neo-Yippie in the 1980s. A remnant faction of the 1960s counterculture group adopted a punk aesthetic for the Reagan era, launched the US branch of the Rock Against Racism movement, brought chaos to the streets at Republican and Democratic political conventions, defied the police in open cannabis “smoke-ins” —and won a landmark Supreme Court ruling for free speech. The Yippie clubhouse at 9 Bleecker Street, the hub for all these activities, has long since succumbed to the gentrification of the East Village, but it survived long enough to provide inspiration to a new generation of radical youth during Occupy Wall Street.

Continue ReadingREVOLUTION 9 
Watching the Shadows
anti-semitism

Anti-Semitism versus anti-Zionism: beyond parsing

The Zionist propaganda machine continues to weaponize the accusation of anti-Semitism to delegitimize any effort to resist Israel’s genocidal assault on Gaza. This increases rather than decreases the responsibility of activists to distinguish—and oppose—actual anti-Semitism. Yet in recent weeks, sectors of the activist response to the Gaza genocide in the United States have utterly surrendered to the most abject, undisguised, unambiguous anti-Semitism—playing right into the hands of the Zionist calumnies. Bill Weinberg discusses this difficult reality in Episode 231 of the CounterVortex podcast. Listen on SoundCloud or via Patreon. (Image via frgdr Blog. Hebrew lettering in background spells names of places in Europe where Jews were exterminated.)

Mexico
Michoacán

‘Blood avocados’ in the news amid Michoacán violence

The US Department of Agriculture suspended inspections of avocados in the Mexican state of Michoacán due to security concerns, halting the top source of US imports. The move was taken after two agents of the USDA’s Animal & Plant Health Inspection Service (APHIS) were accosted during a protest in the town of Paracho, beaten and briefly detained. Michoacán is Mexico’s heartland of avocado production, but the trade has been notoriously co-opted by the local warring drug cartels to launder narco-profits, leading to charges of “blood avocados” in the violence-torn state. (Map: Google)

Southeast Asia
South China Sea

Maritime collision escalates South China Sea tensions

Manila accused Chinese military vessles of engaging in “dangerous manoeuvres, including ramming and towing” a Philippine ship in an effort to disrupt a “routine” resupply mission to an outpost on Second Thomas Shoal (known to the Philippines as Ayungin Shoal) in the the disputed Spratly Islands (known to the Philippines as the Kalayaan Islands). By Philippine media accounts, the craft was fired upon with water cannon and boarded by Chinese troops, with several Filipino soldiers injured in the ensuing confrontation. The skirmish came amid escalating tensions over the South China Sea—much of which Manila calls the West Philippine Sea, but nearly all of which is claimed by Beijing. The chief of staff of the Armed Forces of the Philippines, Romeo Brawner Jr., stated that the military and other maritime law enforcement agencies are prepared to defend Filipino fishermen from China’s newly announced “anti-trespassing policy.” (Map via IDSA)

Europe
BALTOPS24

Baltic brinkmanship amid NATO war games

Sweden’s armed forces charged that a Russian SU-24 fighter plane violated the country’s airspace just east of the island of Gotland in the Baltic Sea, calling the act “unacceptable.” Just days before the incident, Sweden and other NATO allies were conducting naval exercises in the area as part of the annual Baltic Operations drill (BALTOPS). Amid the exercise, the Finnish military reported a similar airspace violation by four Russian warplanes over the Gulf of Finland. This was the first time Sweden and Finland had taken part in BALTOPS. (Photo: NATO)