From our Daily Report:

Greater Middle East
Mursa Matrouh

Arbitrary detentions amid Egypt protest wave

Egyptian security forces have detained 119 people, including at least one child, since the start of the month for participating in anti-government protests, Amnesty International reports. In recent weeks, frustrations over price hikes and power cuts have spurred demonstrations and calls for revolution against the government of President Abdel Fattah al-Sisi. The arrests have spanned six governorates, with some prominent activists being detained in raids on their homes. Several detainees are in the hands of the elite Supreme State Security Prosecution (SSSP), where they are being investigated on dubious charges that include “joining a terrorist group, publishing false news, and misuse of social media.” (Photo via Twitter. Caption reads: “Protests now in Mursa Matrouh”)

Watching the Shadows
antifa

Podcast: sleepwalking into fascism

With Trump gaining momentum since surviving an assassination attempt, and the Democrats demoralized and in disarray, the forces of MAGA-fascism seem poised to retake the White House—and, with Project 2025, are this time armed with the organizational wherewithal to effectively instate their program. Meanwhile, the radical left, which by rights should be the most intransigent source of anti-fascist resistance, is actually in danger of being coopted by Trumpism in a new Red-Brown alliance, lured by perceived “isolationism” and a shared antipathy to the “liberal order.” In Episode 235 of the CounterVortex podcast, Bill Weinberg desperately scours the American political landscape—as well as historical precedents such as Italy in the 1920s—for glimmers of hope. Listen on SoundCloud or via Patreon. (Photo via CEPR)

Palestine
ICJ

ICJ: Israeli occupation of Palestinian territory illegal

The International Court of Justice ruled that Israel’s occupation and settlement of Palestinian territory breach international law. The decision came after the UN General Assembly requested an advisory opinion from the body on Israel’s practices in the occupied territories. The ruling held that Israel’s practices violate a number of international agreements including the Hague Convention of 1907, the Fourth Geneva Convention, the International Covenant on Civil & Political Rights, and the International Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Racial Discrimination. (Photo: ICJ)

North Africa
libya

More mass graves discovered in Libya

A mass grave containing two dozen bodies was discovered in the Libyan coastal city of Sirte, once controlled by ISIS. The National Authority for Searching & Identifying Missing People, a body of the internationally recognized government in Tripoli, said its team is recovering the 24 bodies found under destroyed buildings in the district of al-Kambo. A mass grave was similarly uncovered in the city in October 2022. Another mass grave is meanwhile reported to have been found in the desert along the Libya-Tunisia border, the UN Human Rights Commission confirmed. This was the second such mass grave found on Libya’s borderlands this year. In March, the International Organization for Migration reported the discovery of the bodies of at least 65 presumed migrants in southwest Libya. (Map: Perry-Castañeda Library)

Greater Middle East
Oman

ISIS claims Ashura mosque massacre in Oman

Nine people were killed, including three attackers, and 30 more wounded as gunmen opened fire on worshippers outside a Shi’ite mosque in Wadi al-Kabir district of Muscat, the capital of usually peaceful Oman. The assailants reportedly shouted as they fired, “You non-believers, this is your end!” Four Pakistani nationals and a police officer were among those killed. The Islamic State group (ISIS) claimed responsibility the attack, which occurred during the Shi’ite holy month of Ashura. ISIS released a video showing three men holding rifles and their black flag, boasting of “the targeting of the Rafida,” a pejorative term for Shi’ites. (Map: PCL)

Europe
Finist

Russian playwright gets prison for ‘justifying terrorism’

A Russian military court convicted playwright Svetlana Petriychuk and theater director Yevgeniya Berkovich and sentenced them each to six years in prison over a play that was found to “justify terrorism.” The basis for the prosecution was the play Finist the Brave Falcon, its plot drawing inspiration from the plight of Russian women who went to Syria to marry Islamist fighters and were convicted upon return to their home country. Berkovich and Petrychuk repeatedly stated that their play was intended to warn against terrorism and not to justify it. In the eyes of the defense and human rights organizations, the real reason for the prosecution was retribution against the pair for their outspoken opposition to the war in Ukraine. (Photo: StageRussia)

East Asia
Zhanjiang

China and Russia launch joint naval exercise

Chinese and Russian naval forces have begun a joint exercise at a southern Chinese military port, China’s Ministry of National Defense announced. The “Maritime Joint-2024” exercise is taking place off Zhanjiang, Guangdong province, on the South China Sea. The operations encompass reconnaissance, anti-submarine warfare, anti-missile and air defense maneuvers. This naval cooperation unfolds against a backdrop of mounting tensions between China and NATO allies. At their Washington summit, NATO members designated China as a “decisive enabler” of Russia’s war in Ukraine, citing the two nations’ declared “no-holds-barred partnership” and China’s support for the Russian defense industry. (Map: Google)

Palestine
Gaza

UN experts: famine spreads throughout Gaza Strip

United Nations experts affiliated with the Human Rights Council declared that famine has now undoubtedly spread throughout the Gaza Strip. The expert determination follows the deaths of three more Palestinian children by malnutrition in May and June. The experts reported that at least 34 Palestinians have died from malnutrition since the current crisis began on Oct. 7, most of whom were children. The experts stressed that inaction by the international community amounts to complicity, adding: “Israel’s intentional and targeted starvation campaign against the Palestinian people is a form of genocidal violence and has resulted in famine across all of Gaza.” (Photo: Maan News Agency)

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)

South Asia
Diego Garcia

Diego Garcia detainees in bureaucratic limbo

Lawyers for some of around 60 Sri Lankan Tamil asylum seekers stranded on the British-held island of Diego Garcia have appealed to the UK’s new Foreign Minister David Lammy to intervene after the US blocked them from visiting the island for a hearing set to take place this week. The US runs a secretive military facility on the island, and issued the decision to bar the legal team on a “confidential” basis, citing “national security.” The lawyers are accusing the island’s government—the British Indian Ocean Territory (BIOT) administration—of illegally detaining their clients, who have been confined to a small camp for nearly three years after fleeing Sri Lanka and India by boat. The BIOT administration claims to have no role in negotiating permission for the visit, but lawyers for the asylum seekers say the administration has a duty to persuade the US to allow the hearing to take place and ensure the rule of law on the remote British territory. (Photo via TNH)

The Andes
Machángara

Ecuador court rules that river in capital has rights

A court in Quito ruled that the Machángara River, which runs through the city, possesses rights under the Constitution of Ecuador, making the municipal government responsible for keeping it free from pollution. The court recognized the river as a living entity, subject to rights under Chapter 7 of the Constitution, which establishes that nature possesses a right to protection, promotion and restoration. The provision states that “all persons, communities, peoples or nations are able to call on public authorities to enforce the rights of nature.” The municipality released a decontamination strategy after the ruling, that centers on constructing three new wastewater treatment plants. (Photo: Plan V)

Europe
Ukraine

Ukraine: Russian strikes hit largest children’s hospital

Russian missile attacks on Ukraine killed dozens of people, injured hundreds, and damaged the country’s largest children’s hospital, UN and Ukrainian officials announced. Numerous commercial and residential buildings were struck in the wave of strikes on cities including Dnipro, Kramatorsk, Pokrovsk, Kryviy Rih and Kyiv, leading to the death of at least 36 and injuries to no less than 140 people. Kyiv’s Ohmatdyt Children’s Hospital was damaged with at least 16 injured, including children and medical staff, and two adults dead. UN Resident Coordinator in Ukraine Denise Brown stated: “It is unconscionable that children are killed and injured in this war. Under international humanitarian law, hospitals have special protection. Civilians must be protected.” (Map: PCL)

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Featured Stories

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.

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paramilitaries

CHIQUITA TO PAY FOR PARAMILITARY TERROR IN COLOMBIA

In 2007, Chiquita—one of the world’s largest banana producers—admitted that for years it had been knowingly paying a Colombian terrorist organization to protect its operations in the country. The consequence was predictably violent, resulting in thousands of murders, disappearances, and acts of torture. This week, nearly two decades later, a federal jury in South Florida ordered the company to pay upwards of $38 million in damages in the first of multiple waves of wrongful death and disappearance lawsuits. In an explainer for JURIST, Ingrid Burke Friedman explores the factors that drove the multinational to make these payments, the consequences, and the legal impact.

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EZLN

THE NEW ZAPATISTA AUTONOMY

Last week the Zapatista National Liberation Army (EZLN) released a declaration, setting out a new structure for the autonomous indigenous communities in Mexico’s southern state of Chiapas. Uri Gordon of the British anarchist journal Freedom spoke to Bill Weinberg, a longtime radical journalist in New York City, for insight into this change and its significance. Weinberg’s book about the Zapatistas, Homage to Chiapas: The New Indigenous Struggles in Mexico, was published by Verso in 2000. He spent much time in Chiapas and elsewhere in Mexico during the 1990s, covering the indigenous movements there, prominently including the Zapatistas. In recent decades he has reported widely from South America and is now completing a book about indigenous struggles in the Andes, particularly Peru. He continues to follow the Zapatistas and Chiapas closely, and covers world autonomy movements on his website CounterVortex. In this interview, he explores new pressures in the encroachment of narco-paramilitaries on their territories as a factor prompting the Zapatistas’ current re-organization, and how it actually represents a further localization and decentralization of the movement.

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Siberia Pipeline

GAS INTRIGUES, ECOLOGY AND THE UKRAINE WAR

Over the past decades, Russia has sought to expand natural gas exports, necessitating construction of pipelines to Europe and China. In addition to profits for the Russian state, fossil fuel exports are a valuable tool for Moscow’s geopolitical ambitions. Since the start of the war in Ukraine in 2014 and the full-scale invasion in 2022, the economic and political stakes have skyrocketed. Russia”s green movements had previously been able to mobilize effective campaigns, winning concessions on pipeline routes through natural areas. Since 2014, however, they have come under increasingly harsh scrutiny from the Russian government, with organizations branded “undesirable” or declared “foreign agents.” Control of pipelines routes through Ukraine itself are also a goad of the Russian war effort. Eugene Simonov and Jennifer Castner of the Ukraine War Environmental Consequences Work Group demonstrate how war fever and militarization threaten resources and ecology across the Russian Federation as well as in Ukraine.

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Ukraine tribunal

UKRAINE’S DIFFICULT PATH TO JUSTICE

This August, Ukraine’s capital of Kyiv hosted a large international conference entitled “Special Tribunal for the Crime of Aggression against Ukraine: Justice to be Served.” The conference was aimed at reinvigorating global efforts to prosecute the crime of aggression against Ukraine—a crime which cannot be prosecuted under the current jurisdictional regime of the International Criminal Court. Many in Ukraine believe that justice can be served only when a fully-fledged international special tribunal for the crime of aggression is created. However, some of Ukraine’s most powerful allies endorse a “hybrid” tribunal, such as those created for Sierra Leone and Cambodia—which would rely in large part on Ukrainian national law and raise questions about the reach of jurisdiction. Despite optimistic expectations at the beginning of the year, disagreements between Ukraine and its allies have left some wondering: in the end, will justice indeed be served? International law scholars Mariia Lazareva of Ukraine’s Taras Shevchenko National University and Erik Kucherenko of Oxford provide an analysis for Jurist.

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Gaza attack

GAZA’S SHOCK ATTACK: UNVEILING THE CONTEXT

The shock attack from the Gaza Strip has terrified Israelis, and the government appears to be preparing a massive retaliation. But writing for Israel’s independent +972 Magazine, Haggai Matar insists that the current horror must bring home the overwhelming context. Contrary to what many Israelis are saying, this is not a “unilateral” or “unprovoked” attack. The dread Israelis feel now is a sliver of what Palestinians have experienced daily under the decades-long military regime in the West Bank, the siege and repeated assaults on Gaza. In recent months, hundreds of thousands of Israelis have been marching for “democracy and equality” across the country, with many even saying they would refuse military service because of this government’s authoritarian turn. What those protestors and reserve soldiers need to understand—especially now, as many of them announce they will halt their protests to join the new war on Gaza—is that Palestinians have been struggling for those same demands for decades, facing an Israel that to them is already, and has always been, completely authoritarian.

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Crimean Tatars

CRIMEA: UKRAINE’S OTHER NATIONAL LIBERATION STRUGGLE

Many would-be “peacemakers” on the political right as well as on the political left have “very helpfully” suggested that Ukraine should give up some territories, which they describe as “Russian-speaking,” in order to appease the aggressor. When these self-styled “peacemakers” lay out exactly how Ukraine should be unmade piece by piece, Crimea is always the first territory mentioned. Crimea is, we are told, the most “Russian speaking” region in Ukraine, and voted for union with Russia in 2014. In an analysis for CounterVortex, Kyiv-born writer and activist Yevgeny Lerner debunks both these claims. Not only was the 2014 referendum illegitimate, but the “Russian speaking” majority in the region was effected through generations of ethnic cleansing of its indigenous inhabitants: the Crimean Tatars. The struggle of the Crimean Tatar people for land recovery and territorial autonomy is now unified with the general struggle of Ukraine for national survival against Russian aggression.

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kharkiv

UKRAINE: DEBUNKING RUSSIA’S WAR PROPAGANDA

In a special analysis for CounterVortex, Bill Weinberg debunks Vladimir Putin’s “de-Nazification” propaganda for his invasion of Ukraine, a paramount example of the ultra-cynical phenomenon of paradoxical fascist pseudo-anti-fascism. The Ukrainian state that he demonizes as “Nazi” has been experiencing a democratic renewal since the Maidan Revolution, as Russia has descended into autocratic dictatorship. Putin’s stated justifications for the Ukraine war are either paranoid delusions or outright lies. His real objectives are to rebuild the Russian Empire, re-establish the Russian dictatorship, and exterminate Ukraine as a cultural and political entity. These are the open aims of Alexander Dugin, the intellectual mastermind of Putin’s revanchist imperial project, and the political heir of Ivan Ilyin, the 20th century theorist of “Russian Fascism.”

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Kosovo-Serbs

RUSSIA’S STRATEGY TO DESTABILIZE THE BALKANS: IT’S WORKING

Putin’s aggression in Ukraine is emboldening Russia’s ally Serbia to press its claims on Kosovo, which declared its independence in 2008. As ethnic Serbs launch violent protests in Kosovo, Serbian officials are threatening to launch a campaign to “de-nazify” the Balkans. Meanwhile, leaders of the autonomous Bosnian Serb Republic have announced their intention to secede from Bosnia & Herzegovina. The wars in the states to emerge from the break-up of Yugoslavia in the 1990s were an early harbinger of the current conflagration in Ukraine. Now, in a grim historical cycle, the war in Ukraine could re-ignite the wars in the Balkans. Nicholas Velazquez, in an analysis for Geopolitical Monitor, sees an intentional Moscow design to destabilize the region.

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mariupol ruins

RUSSIAN GENOCIDE OF THE UKRAINIAN NATION

Russia’s unprovoked aggression against Ukraine has sparked a strong international reaction, with most states referring to the actions of the Russian army as war crimes. A number of parliaments and heads of state have recognized that yet another international crime—genocide—is being committed by the occupation’s troops. Poland’s parliament, the Sejm, was the first to pass a resolution in March, strongly condemning “acts of genocide…committed on the territory of sovereign Ukraine by the Russian Federation armed forces, together with its allies, at the behest of military commanders being under the direct authority of President Vladimir Putin.” Since then, especially after the infamous Bucha massacre, other parliaments have joined Poland in condemning Russia’s actions as genocide, including those of Lithuania, Estonia, Latvia, Canada, Czechia and Ireland. However, the International Criminal Court investigation has been slow to examine charges of genocide, and any binding action by the UN against Russia is effectively blocked by its veto on the Security Council. The dilemma is explored by Ukrainian law student Nastya Moyseyenko in a commentary for Jurist.

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Crimea protest

CRIMEA: LEGACY OF THE DEPORTATION

May 18 is commemorated as a memorial day for the victims of the genocide of the Crimean Tatar people. On that day in 1944, Joseph Stalin began a mass deportation of the entire population of Crimean Tatars who survived the German occupation of the peninsula. Over 200,000 Tatars, baselessly accused of collaborating with the Nazis, were packed in railroad cattle-cars and sent to remote locations in Central Asia and Siberia. Over 46 percent of the Crimean Tatar people perished during the first two years of the exile due to harsh conditions. Only in 1989 did the USSR condemn the deportation, after which the indigenous people of Crimea started returning to their homeland. The deportation was recognized as a genocide by Ukraine in 2015, and later by Latvia, Lithuania and Canada. In a commentary for Ukraine’s Euromaidan Press, Olena Makarenko notes that today, thousands of Crimean Tatars have been forced once again to leave the Crimean Peninsula due to the Russian occupation of 2014; hundreds of those who stayed are persecuted.

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witches

APOLOGY TO THE ‘WITCHES’: WHY NOW?

Scotland and Catalonia have issued formal apologies for the burning of thousands of women as “witches” between the 15th and 18th centuries. An apology for a crime committed hundreds of years ago, with the victims and perpetrators alike both long dead, may seem like an empty exercise. However, the contemporary world still sees periodic frenzies of “witchcraft” hysteria, with women and the least powerful in society “tried” and lynched—especially in rural areas of Africa and Asia. Last year, the UN Human Rights Council adopted a resolution sponsored by Cameroon calling for “Elimination of harmful practices related to accusations of witchcraft and ritual attacks.” New York area neo-pagan practitioner and commentator Carole Linda Gonzalez argues that, in this light, the new apologies are all too relevant.

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