Africa
DRC

Martial law fails to stop killings in DRC

The Democratic Republic of Congo’s Senate once again extended martial law in two of the country’s eastern provinces, despite increasing criticism of the measure, which has done nothing to stem decades of violence. Since May, civilian officials in North Kivu and Ituri provinces have been replaced by police and military figures. The UN peacekeeping mission in Congo has thrown its weight behind the measure, even as local rights groups accuse authorities of using the “state of siege” to curtail civil liberties. And attacks by armed groups have continued at the same rate as before, with at least 1,000 civilians killed since May, according to the Kivu Security Tracker. More than one million people have been internally displaced in eastern Congo so far this year. (Photo: MONUSCO via Defense Post)

Africa
#EndSARS

Nigerian army accused of #EndSARS ‘massacre’

A judicial panel of inquiry found the Nigerian army killed at least 11 people when soldiers opened fire on unarmed protestors at the Lekki toll gate in Lagos just over a year ago—a politically seismic event that still reverberates. The panel’s report, submitted to the Lagos state government, describes the shootings as a “massacre.” The findings cast a shadow over repeated denials by the government and the army that any killings occurred—consistently labelling such reports “fake news.” The sit-in at the Lekki toll gate in October 2020 was one of many across the country against police brutality, which initially focused on the notorious Special Anti-Robbery Squad (SARS). The government has continued to hound activists, claiming they are “anarchists.”  (Photo: Sahara Reporters)

Africa
khartoum

Sudan: civil resistance rejects ‘power-sharing’ deal

Sudan’s ousted Prime Minister Abdalla Hamdok, who had been placed under house arrest with last month’s military coup, appeared on TV to sign a new power-sharing agreement with putsch leader Gen. Abdel Fattah al-Burhan. But the deal officially restoring Hamdok as prime minister was immediately rejected by the pro-democracy movement in the streets. Just after the announcement, security forces in Khartoum fired tear-gas at protesters marching toward the presidential palace to demand the military’s complete withdrawal from politics. “The future of the country will be determined by the young people on the ground,” said Siddiq Abu-Fawwaz of the Forces for Freedom & Change coalition. (Photo via Twitter)

North America
standwithmashpee

Podcast: Thanksgiving and Atonement

In Episode 98 of the CounterVortex podcast, Bill Weinberg discusses the book Thanksgiving: The Holiday at the Heart of the American Experience by Melanie Kirkpatrick. A work of Thanksgiving boosterism, it nonetheless recognizes the dissidents who reject the holiday as a celebration and sanitization of genocide, and even call for replacing it with a day of atonement. The idealized portrayal the first Thanksgiving in 1621 belies the bloody realities of the Pequot War and King Philip’s War that shortly followed. Perversely, the Wampanoag indigenous people, who shared in that first Thanksgiving and were later defeated in King Philip’s War, were the target of a new attempt at “termination” by the Trump administration, which sought to disestablish their reservation at Mashpee, on Cape Cod just 30 miles south of Plymouth Rock. Listen on SoundCloud or via Patreon. (Photo: Indianz.com)

The Caribbean
Osorbo

Imprisoned Cuban rapper on hunger strike

Supporters of imprisoned Cuban rap artist Maykel Castillo, better known by his stage name “El Osorbo,” warn that his life is in danger one week into a hunger strike, and that he has been removed to a “punishment cell” where he is being held incommunicado. Castillo is a leader of the San Isidro Movement, a collective of Cuban dissident artists and intellectuals, and co-author of the viral song “Patria y Vida,” which became an anthem of the protest wave across the island in July. He has been repeatedly arrested since 2015, including for protesting the controversial Decree 349, which places restrictions on artistic expression. He has been held at the maximum-security Pinar del Río prison since his May arrest for the vague crimes of “resistance” and “contempt.” He launched his total hunger and thirst strike in protest of his own detention and the crackdown on freedom of expression in Cuba. (Image: FreeMuse)

Planet Watch
spacedebris

Dangerous debris from Russian space kablooie

Russia destroyed one of its own satellites with a ground-based missile, in a test of its PL-19 Nudol DA-ASAT (direct-ascent anti-satellite) system. The blast created thousands of pieces of debris that have spread out into Earth orbit. The US says it has identified more than 1,500 trackable pieces of debris from the strike, and many thousands of smaller ones. That same day, the Russia’s RosCosmos space agency reported that the astronauts aboard the International Space Station had to shelter in place due to a cloud of debris passing by the station every 90 minutes, the time it takes for the ISS to orbit the Earth. It was unclear if the debris threatening the space station came from Russia’s ASAT test. But Washington charges that the new debris field poses a danger to the space station. (Image: MIT News)

South Asia
tripura

India: press freedom at stake amid communal violence

Charges under India’s draconian Unlawful Activities Prevention Act (UAPA) have been brought against two human rights advocates and a journalist for their reporting on an outbreak of communal violence in the northeastern state of Tripura. Widespread attacks on Muslims erupted in response to attacks on Hindus across the border in Bangladesh during the Durga Puja festival. In the Tripura violence, mosques were vandalized, and Muslim shops and homes ransacked. These attacks were denied by the authorities until they were documented in a report by the rights advocates—who now face criminal charges for their efforts. Journalist Shyam Meera Singh was charged merely for tweeting “Tripura is burning.” (Photo via Twitter)

South Asia
ayodhya

Indian writer sued over Hindutva-jihad comparison

A criminal complaint was registered against Indian politician and former union minister Salman Khurshid over statements made in his recent book Sunrise over Ayodhya: Nationhood in Our Times. The complaint was filed under sections of the Indian Penal Code that protect “religious sentiments.” It alleges that Khurshid offended the religious sentiments of Hindus by comparing Hindutva (Hindu nationalism) with the ideology of terror groups such as ISIS and Boko Haram. Khurshid’s book on the Ayodhya holy site dispute created an uproar upon its release, with Hindu militant organizations calling for its suppression. (Image: Penguin Books)

The Caribbean
Habana

Cuba: pre-emptive repression stifles protests

Plainclothes State Security in Havana pre-emptively shut down a “Civic March” that had been called by opposition networks. In addition to heavy deployment in the parks and squares, armed agents were stationed on rooftops around the iconic Capitolio building. What opposition website 14ymedio called pro-regime “vigilante groups” also gathered on street corners. According to independent human rights organization CubaLex, police arrested 11 people, while some 50 identified as key organizers were effectively “besieged” in their homes to forestall any public gathering. Those arrested had apparently attempted to gather in defiance of the security measures. A small group of youth was detained on the Paseo del Prado while shouting “Patria y Libertad“, slogan of the protest wave that shook Cuba in July. (Photo: 14ymedio)

Central Asia
beijing olympics

Corporate sponsors of Beijing Olympics under pressure

Human Rights Watch accused the corporate sponsors of the Beijing 2022 Winter Olympics of ignoring China’s crimes against humanity in its far western region of Xinjiang, thus “squandering the opportunity” to pressure China to address its “appalling human rights record.” Coca-Cola, Intel, Toyota and Airbnb are among the 13 Olympic Partners accused by name of overlooking China’s mass detention of ethnic Uyghurs and members of other Muslim ethnicities, as well as repression of free speech in Hong Kong. (Photo: CounterVortex)

Planet Watch
anthropocene

Glasgow: ‘climate-vulnerable’ protest ‘compromise’ pact

The COP26 UN climate summit concluded a deal among the 196 parties to the 2015 Paris Agreement on long-delayed implementation measures. UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres called the deal a “compromise,” and indeed it was saved through eleventh-hour haggling over the wording. Just minutes before the final decision on the text of the Glasgow Climate Pact, India, backed by fellow major coal-producer China, demanded weaker language on coal, with the original call for a “phase-out” softened to “phase-down.” And even this applies only to “unabated” coal, with an exemption for coal burned with carbon capture and storage technology—a technofix being aggressively pushed by Exxon and other fossil fuel giants, in a propaganda blitz clearly timed for the Glasgow summit. Another corporate-backed fix that allows polluters to go on polluting was also embraced at Glasgow: the pact calls for establishment of a global carbon-trading market in 2023. (Photo: CounterVortex)

East Asia
kurils

Podcast: 007 in the New Cold War

In Episode 97 of the CounterVortex podcast, Bill Weinberg dissects the geopolitics of the new James Bond movie, No Time to Die, and how the Daniel Craig reboot of the series has finessed the cultural icon’s role in the New Cold War. Famously, the film was produced pre-pandemic, with its release postponed a year due to the lockdown—and its key plot device is a mass biological warfare attack, anticipating the conspiranoid theories about COVID-19. Yet it could also be prescient in warning of a superpower confrontation over the Kuril Islands—disputed by Russia and Japan, and an all too likely flashpoint for global conflict. Listen on SoundCloud or via Patreon. (Map: International Kuril Island Project)