Planet Watch
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Worldwide police-state measures in face of COVID-19

With whole nations under lockdown, sweeping powers are being assumed by governments across the world in the name of containing the COVID-19 pandemic. Hungary’s parliament voted to allow Prime Minister Viktor Orbán to rule by decree. The Russian parliament has approved an “anti-virus” package that includes up to seven years imprisonment for serious violations of quarantine rules. Israel has joined South Korea in authorizing use of personal cellphone data to track the virus. Chilean President Sebastian Piñera has declared a “state of catastrophe,” sending the military to public squares recently occupied by protesters. Military patrols are also enforcing the lockdown in Peru, Italy, Romania and South Africa. “We could have a parallel epidemic of authoritarian and repressive measures following close on the heels of a health epidemic,” said Fionnuala Ni Aolain, UN Special Rapporteur on counterterrorism and human rights. (Photo: Peruvian army demonstration video, via YouTube)

Central Asia

Uighurs as pawns in the Great Game

In a perverse spectacle, the Trump administration, which is establishing its own incipient concentration camp system for undocumented immigrants, makes a great show of feigning concern with the mass detention of the Uighurs in China’s “re-education camps.” Secretary of State Mike Pompeo called China’s treatment of the Uighurs the “stain of the century,” and accused Beijing of pressuring countries not to attend a US-hosted conference on religious freedom then opening in Washington. At the conference, Donald Trump actually met at the Oval Office with Jewher Ilham, daughter of the imprisoned Uighur scholar Ilham Tothi. It is hard to fault the Ughurs for being heartened by this international attention, but it is clear that they are being exploited for propaganda purposes. (Photo: Mvslim.com)

Watching the Shadows

Podcast: Julian Assange, agent of fascism

In Episode 31 of the CounterVortex podcast, Bill Weinberg documents the ugly far-right politics of Julian Assange of WikiLeaks, and how the 2010 document dump risked the lives of dissidents under authoritarian regimes in places like Zimbabwe—and may have constituted outright collaboration with the repressive dictatorship of Alexander Lukashenko in Belarus. An objective reading of the circumstances around the 2016 Wikileaks dump of Democratic Party e-mails reveals Assange as a Kremlin asset and Trump collaborator, an active agent in a Russian-lubricated effort to throw the US elections—part of Putin’s grander design to impose a fascist world order. Weinberg also notes that the ACLU and Committee to Protect Journalists have issued statements warning that the charges against Assange may pose a threat to press freedom. But he argues that even if we must protest his prosecution, we should do so while refraining from glorifying Assange—and, indeed, while forthrightly repudiating him as a dangerous political enemy of all progressive values. Listen on SoundCloud, and support our podcast via Patreon. (Photo Libcom.org)

Europe

Anarchist historian arrested in Belarus police raid

Riot police raided a bookstore in the Belarusian city of Hrodno, interrupting a lecture by anarchist historian Pyotr Ryabov, who was visiting from Moscow, and arresting him on the pretext of breaking up an "unsanctioned mass gathering." Ryabov, who had been giving a presentation on "Libertarian Social Thought," was convicted on charges of "hooliganism" and sentenced to six days in jail. He spent the six days on hunger strike

North America

Yes, the Russians. Wake up and smell the vodka.

Amid disingenuous demands for the "evidence," all the political logic points to Russia being behind the hacks in an intentional strategy to throw the US election to Trump.

Europe

‘Fascism’ and the Ukraine protests

The Ukrainian protesters are demonized as "fascists," exploiting far-right elements in their ranks—but there is a far greater case that the Yanukovich regime is truly "fascist."

The Andes

Assange and Ecuador: no monopoly on hypocrisy

Julian Assange’s supporters accuse the media of hypocrisy in pointing to Ecuador’s sketchy record on press freedom—but come dangerously close to apologizing for repression.

Europe

Next in Belarus: teddy-bear revolution?

A photographer in Belarus faces seven years in prison for taking photos of teddy-bears that were parachuted into the country by Swedish activists as a stunt.