Watching the Shadows
antivax

Podcast: antivax is fascist II

In Episode 103 of the CounterVortex podcast, Bill Weinberg, still suffering from possible COVID-19 symptoms, again notes how the radical right, including neo-Nazi elements, is in the vanguard of anti-vax protests, from Germany to Romania to England to Brooklyn. A virtual industry churns out relentless online disinformation that is easily refuted by anyone who makes the effort to break out of the confirmation-bias bubble. Contrary to the conspiranoid propaganda, COVID-19 deaths are actually being underestimated. The juvenile Nazi-baiting of the anti-vax machine is another example of the propaganda device of fascist pseudo-anti-fascism. Meanwhile, Tuskegee experiment survivors are encouraging vaccinations, and the Peoples Vaccine Alliance protests the actual crimes of Big Pharma—failing to make the vaccine available to Africa and the much of the Global South, in what has been decried as “vaccine apartheid.” Listen on SoundCloud or via Patreon. (Photo via Twitter)

South Asia
jesus in india

War on Christmas (yes, really) in Modi strongholds

Hindu militant groups disrupted Christmas celebrations and vandalized decorations in parts of India this season. The most serious incident was in Silchar, Assam state, where apparent followers of the Bajrang Dal “manhandled” Hindu youth who attempted to join observances at a Presbyterian Church on Christmas Day. Bajrang Dal is the youth arm of the Vishva Hindu Parishad (VHP), a right-wing organization allied with the ruling Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP). The VHP has been named as one of the groups involved in the 2002 Gujarat genocide. So it turns out that in one country on Earth where there really is a “War on Christmas,” it is being waged by followers of Donald Trump’s good friend and ally Narendra Modi. Life’s little ironies. (Photo via Article 14)

Watching the Shadows
antivax

Podcast: antivax is fascist

In Episode 103 of the CounterVortex podcast, Bill Weinberg, suffering from possible COVID-19 symptoms, rants against the mask and vaccine refusers who are not only threatening public health amid the worst pandemic in over a century, but also enabling the worldwide rise of the authoritarian radical right. As they relentlessly bait mask-wearers and vax-rationalists as succumbing to state propaganda, they themselves have swallowed the saturation propaganda from Fox News and the Trump campaign. Last year’s militia kidnapping plotagainst Michigan Gov. Gretchen Whitmer just had a reprise in an assassination conspiracy against the president of the German state of Saxony, similarly motivated by COVID-denialist reaction. Even Robert F. Kennedy Jr openly joined with German neo-Nazis at an anti-vax rally in Berlin. None of this is coincidental. The politics of the anti-vaxxers is actually redolent of Hitler’s “euthanasia” program, in which “useless eaters” (the disabled) were exterminated—the first step toward the Final Solution. Their juvenile Nazi-baiting is another example of the propaganda device of fascist pseudo-anti-fascism. Listen on SoundCloud or via Patreon. (Photo: Wikipedia)

East Asia

Podcast: China Unbound with Joanna Chiu

In Episode 102 of the CounterVortex podcast, Bill Weinberg interviews Joanna Chiu, author of China Unbound: A New World Disorder, on the precipitous rise of the People’s Republic as a world power, and the dilemmas this poses for human rights and democracy around the planet. How can we reconcile the imperatives to resist the globalization of China’s police state and to oppose the ugly Sinophobia which is rising in the West, especially in the wake of the COVID-19 pandemic? Some Chinese dissidents living in exile in the US have even been co-opted by Trumpism. Chiu argues that stigmatization and misinterpretation of Chinese, whether in the People’s Republic or the diaspora, plays into the hands of Beijing’s propaganda. Listen on SoundCloud or via Patreon. (Image: House of Anansi)

North America
border

Biden administration to restart ‘Remain in Mexico’

The US Department of Homeland Security announced that it will begin re-implementing the Migrant Protection Protocols (MPP), a Trump-era policy forcing asylum-seekers to “Remain in Mexico” for the duration of their immigration proceedings. The announcement follows a Supreme Court order requiring re-implementation of the MPP over the objections of the Biden administration. The policy may, however, violate international law. The 1951 UN Convention & Protocol Relating to the Status of Refugees requires states to grant refugees the right to seek asylum, to have free access to courts, and to be afforded movement within the country. It also prohibits expulsion (“refoulement”) to a country where their lives or freedom may be threatened. (Photo: WikiImages via Jurist)

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)

North America
thacker-pass

Paiute and Shoshone oppose Nevada lithium mine

Local indigenous peoples and their environmentalist supporters have rallied outside the federal courthouse in Reno, Nev., as they await a decision on their request for an injunction to stop the Thacker Pass Lithium Mine Project, set to be developed on public lands within the ancestral territory of the Paiute and Shoshone. Opponents have also established a protest camp near the mine site. If the injunction is denied, Lithium Nevada, a subsidiary of Canada-based Lithium Americas, will be able to move ahead with an archaeological survey in preparation for breaking ground on the mine. (Photo: Protect Thacker Pass)

Afghanistan
afghanistan

Afghanistan: no, the war is not over

With absurd hubris, Biden in his speech as the last US troops left Kabul declared that “the United States ended 20 years of war in Afghanistan.” It’s perverse enough that he called the US evacuation of some 120,000 Afghans and Americans an “extraordinary success”—despite the fact that more than 100 US nationals and many thousands of desperate Afghans were left behind. But this reality-denying “ended the war” rhetoric is being uncritically echoed by media accounts. The war in Afghanistan began in 1979, with the massive Soviet military intervention to put down the Mujahedeen, and the country hasn’t seen a moment of peace since then. Nor is there much prospect for peace any time in foreseeable future. This is the same imperial narcissism we heard with the much-hyped US “withdrawal” from Afghanistan in 2014, and the “withdrawal” from Iraq in 2011. But this time, Afghanistan is essentially being turned over to the Taliban as a US-collaborationist or even near-proxy force to fight ISIS. The Taliban remain a brutal, intolerant and ultra-reactionary Islamist entity, but are now baited as co-opted moderates by the even more extremist ISIS. (Map: Perry-Castañeda Library)

Afghanistan
kabul protest

Afghanistan: Taliban unleash first terror

As the Taliban, now in full control of Kabul, pledge an “inclusive” Afghan government in prepared press statements, deadly repression against anti-Taliban protesters is reported from the eastern city of Jalalabad. The day before Afghanistan’s independence day, protesters took to the streets of Jalalabad waving the black, red and green national flag—and tearing down the white and black Tawhid flag of the Taliban. Witnesses said Taliban fighters fired on protesters indiscriminately, and at least three were killed. On the day that Afghanistan won full independence from Britain in 1919, a similar protest was held in Khost, where social media videos again show Taliban fighters firing on demonstrators. No casualties were reported, but the city has been placed under a 24-hour curfew. A small demonstration by women demanding that their rights be respected was held  outside a police precinct in Kabul. “We want the rights we’ve had for the past 20 years,” signs read.  (Photo via Twitter)

Planet Watch
hiroshima

Podcast: Hiroshima at 76

In Episode 83 of the CounterVortex podcast, Bill Weinberg notes signs of hope on the 76th anniversary of the Hiroshima bombing, with the city’s Mayor Kazumi Matsui calling on the world’s nations to join the Treaty on the Prohibition of Nuclear Weapons. President Trump walked away from US-Russia nuclear arms control treaties, and China is now rapidly expanding its nuclear arsenal. Ukraine and Syria are ominously likely flashpoints for superpower conflict. But South Africa provides a shining example of progress—under the leadership of Nelson Mandela, newly post-apartheid South Africa became the first and only nation on Earth to willingly dismantle its nuclear weapons. Listen on SoundCloud or via Patreon. (Photo: Hiroshima Day vigil 2014, via Nihon zan Myohoji Buddhist Peace Council)

The Caribbean
Capitolio

Mass protests break out across Cuba

Seemingly spontaneous protests broke out in Cuba, with demonstrations reported across the island—from Pinar del Río in the west to Santiago in the east. In Havana, hundreds gathered along the Malecón seawall, which was the scene of a brief uprising known as the Maleconazoin August 1994, amid the economic agony of the “Special Period.” The demonstrators later marched on the iconic Capitolio building. Slogans included “Freedom,” “Down with the dictatorship,” “We are not afraid,” “Homeland and life” (a reference to the official slogan “Homeland or death“), and “Díaz-Canel singao [jerk, asshole],” a reference to President Miguel Díaz-Canel. (Photo: Marcos Evora via Havana Times)

Greater Middle East
Khashoggi

Khashoggi killers trained in US: report

Operatives of the Saudi secret unit responsible for the 2018 killing of journalist Jamal Khashoggi received paramilitary training in the United States, the New York Times reported. According to the account, Arkansas-based security firm Tier 1 Group trained six unit members. Although the training was described as “defensive” and “devised to better protect Saudi leaders,” the unit was then undertaking a series of kidnappings, detentions and torture to crush dissent within the kingdom. (Photo via Wikimedia Commons)