South Asia
Indian Farmers

Farmers’ march on Delhi met with repression

Amnesty International released a statement decrying the Indian government’s disproportionate restrictions on the right to peaceful protest instated to quell the “Dilli Chalo” (on to Delhi) farmers protest. In response to farmers’ cross-country mobilization to protest agricultural policies, Indian authorities imposed limitations on group gatherings, erected barricades along the route of the march, and used tear-gas and rubber bullets against the farmers. (Photo: Ravan Khosa via Wikimedia Commons)

East Asia
china labor

Wildcat labor actions spread in China

Although winning no coverage in English-language media, labor actions are spreading across China in the current economic downturn in the People’s Republic. This week, workers hung banners outside the headquarters of the Guilin No. 3 Construction Company in Guangxi province to demand payment of outstanding wages owed to hundreds of employees. On the same day, migrant workers in Jinan, Shandong province, raised banners in the city’s central business district demanding payment of backlogged wages by the China Railway Construction Corporation. By definition, such actions are not authorized by the state-controlled All-China Federation of Trade Unions (ACFTU). Numerous such recent actions were described at the symposium “Non-violent Resistance, High-Tech Totalitarianism and China’s Future,” held last weekend in Washington DC. (Image: China Labour Bulletin)

Palestine
West Bank

West Bank tips deeper into crisis

With international eyes on the catastrophe in the Gaza Strip, an economic and human rights crisis is rapidly unfolding in the Israeli-occupied West Bank. Violence by both the Israeli army and settlers is escalating, with entire Palestinian villages emptied, the residents forced to flee. Intensified restrictions on mobility are being imposed by the occupation forces, work permits are being cancelled by the tens of thousands, and tax revenues that Israel collects on West Bank exports are being withheld from the Palestinian Authority. At least 290 Palestinians, including 75 children, have been killed since Oct. 7—double the figure for all of last year. (Photo: B’Tselem)

The Andes
Ecuador

UN: poverty, oppression at root of Ecuador crisis

UN Special Rapporteur on Extreme Poverty & Human Rights Olivier De Schutter issued a report citing impoverishment and exploitation as the “root cause” of the fast-mounting violence and instability in Ecuador. Criminal groups exploit the desperate while gang wars deepen desperation, in a “vicious cycle linking insecurity and poverty.” Following a 12-day visit to the country, De Schutter warned against a purely militarized response to the crisis that ignores social and economic factors. (Image: Nicolas Raymond via Flickr)

Africa
eritrea

Harsh abuses in Eritrea ‘national service’ program

A report from a UN independent investigator is putting a fresh spotlight on allegations of torture, sexual violence, forced labor, and abusive conditions in Eritrea’s system of compulsory, indefinite national service. The investigator noted that Eritrea has ignored repeated calls to ensure legal limits for national service. Since winning independence from Ethiopia three decades ago, Eritrea has been led by President Isaias Afwerki, who has never held an election. (Map: PCL)

Africa
Niger

Podcast: flashpoint Niger

In Episode 186 of the CounterVortex podcast, Bill Weinberg examines the coup d’etat in Niger, which now threatens to plunge West Africa into regional war—with potential for escalation involving the Great Powers. Lines are drawn, with the Western-backed ECOWAS demanding the junta cede power, and Russian-backed Mali and Burkina Faso backing the junta up. Pro-junta demonstrators in Niger’s capital, Niamey, wave the Russian flag—probably to express displeasure at US and French neo-colonialism. The Wagner Group, which already has troops in Mali and Burkina Faso, has expressed its support for the junta, and offered fighters to help stabilize the regime. Elements of the tankie pseudo-left in the West are similarly rallying around the junta. Amid this, leaders of the Tuareg resistance in Niger have returned to arms to resist the new regime, and the country’s mine workers union is also demanding a return to democratic rule. Listen on SoundCloud or via Patreon. (Map: PCL)

Watching the Shadows
computer smash

Podcast: artificial intelligence and the abolition of humanity

In Episode 183 of the CounterVortex podcast, Bill Weinberg continues his rant on the dangers of artificial intelligence, this time focusing on the threat it poses to human evolution. The advent of Elon Musk’s Neuralink brain implant technology, now approved for human testing by the FDA, actually portends the ultimate abolition of humanity, and its replacement by a conditioned post-humanity stripped of all dignity and reason. But there are signs of human resistance to robot rule that we must fan the flames of before it is too late—such as the current strike by Vancouver dockworkers against their replacement by automation. Listen on SoundCloud or via Patreon. (Image: Earth First! Newswire)

Central Asia
China prison

Probe corporate profit from Uyghur forced labor

Canada’s Ombudsperson for Responsible Enterprise has launched an inquiry into accusations over use of Uyghur forced labor in the People’s Republic of China by Western corporations Nike and Dynasty Gold. While the initial evaluation stipulates that Nike has not engaged in the direct use of such labor, the company’s association with Chinese third-party entities does not absolve it of accountability. Vancouver-based Dynasty Gold faces allegations of directly employing coerced labor of Uyghurs at a mining site in China. The initial evaluation finds that the company’s denial of operational control over the mine at Hatu, Xinjiang region, “should not be taken at its face value,” as Dynasty still possess a controlling interest in the operation. (Photo via Bitter Winter)

Watching the Shadows
computer smash

Podcast: artificial intelligence and the abolition of truth

In Episode 182 of the CounterVortex podcast, Bill Weinberg takes heart in SAG-AFTRAjoining the Hollywood writers’ strike, demanding limits on the use of artificial intelligence by the industry. This is a sign of human resistance to robot rule and the growing hegemony of silicon-based “intelligence” over carbon-based intelligent life-forms. Although journalists are not yet at risk of being rendered redundant as script and copy writers are, Weinberg’s own trade of journalism is already being impacted. The post-truth zeitgeist and online cognitive environment of total propaganda is set to become exponentially worse, quantitatively and qualitatively, with the advent of “deep-fakes,” indistinguishable from actual reality. Objective truth, even as a concept, is about to be abolished—unless the human race stands up and says no to AI, before it’s too late. Contrary to the dogma that the “advance” (sic) and ubiquity of this technology is inevitable, resistance is possible. Italy has banned use of ChatGPT within the country. Listen on SoundCloud or Patreon. (Image: Earth First! Newswire)

North America
Immokalee

Florida: thousands protest new anti-immigrant law

Demonstrators gathered across Florida to protest a recently enacted law that imposes harsh restrictions on undocumented immigrants. In what protesters dubbed “a day without immigrants,” thousands walked off the job to express their opposition to Gov. Ron DeSantis’ approval of Senate Bill 1718. Under the new law, businesses are prohibited from knowingly employing, hiring or recruiting undocumented immigrants. Employers are required to verify their workers’ documentation. Employers who fail to verify their workers face a $1,000 per day fine and a suspension of their business license. If undocumented immigrants are caught using false documentation, they too face criminal penalties, including a potential $5,000 fine or five years in prison. (Photo: AFSC Florida via Twitter)

East Asia
Tiananmen

China broadens scope of anti-espionage laws

The Standing Committee of the National People’s Congress approved revised amendments to the Counter-Espionage Law of the People’s Republic of China, in the first revision of the legislation since 2014. Under the previous law, threats to national security narrowly concerned state secrets. However, the new provisions broaden the scope of “espionage” to encompass any action, document, data or material which may be considered a threat to national security by state authorities. The reforms also expand the duties of law enforcement personnel in countering espionage activity, and the definition of “spying” has been broadened to include cyberattacks. The reforms follow President Xi Jinping’s new emphasis on strengthening “national security.” (Photo: chinaworker.info)

Europe

Water also at issue in France protests

Amid nationwide protests over the government’s pension reform in France, clashes between demonstrators and police are reported from the rural commune of Saite-Soline, in the western department of Deux-Sèvres. Thousands defied an official ban to mobilize against construction of new water storage “basins” for crop irrigation. In the ensuing fracas, security forces deployed helicopters and tear-gas, and several protesters were wounded, some seriously. Authorities said gendarmes were injured as well, and patrol cars set ablaze. Some protesters reportedly dug up and dismantled a section of pipe that had been laid to feed the reservoir, and marched with the severed segments held aloft. Interior Minister GĂ©rald Darmanin described the scene as “eco-terrorism.” The Bassines Non Merci group calls the “mega-basins” project a “water grab” by “agro-industry,” which will deplete the local aquifer amid ongoing drought conditions in the region. (Photo via Unicorn Riot)