East Asia
Yau Tong

Hong Kong sees first protests since 2020

The first protest since the introduction of the 2020 National Security Law in Hong Kong was held in Tseung Kwan O, an eastern area of the city. A small number of protestors marched against a land reclamation plan and construction of a waste disposal facility. The marchers complied with restrictions imposed by authorities. The protest was limited to a maximum of 100 participants, whose banners and placards were pre-screened. Protestors¬†were required to wear numbered tags. However, two days later, a smaller but seemingly unauthorized protest was held outside Hong Kong’s Central Government Offices. Some 40 residents from Yau Tong squatter community in Kowloon, which is set to be razed to make way for a public housing project, gathered to voice opposition to their impending eviction. (Photo: HKFP)

Palestine
khan al ahmar

New Israeli admin in West Bank propaganda ploy

US National Security Adviser Jake Sullivan met in Jerusalem with President Isaac Herzog, signaling continued US support for Israel’s new far-right government‚ÄĒdespite the Biden administration’s supposed opposition to its policies such as settlement expansion and¬†annexation of the West Bank. The trip coincided with Israel’s eviction of a wildcat settler outpost in what Israeli authorities call¬†the “Samaria” region of the West Bank.¬†Simultaneously, the Israeli government announced it is preparing to demolish the Bedouin village of Khan al-Ahmar on the eastern outskirts of Jerusalem, home to at least 180 people.¬†Khan al-Ahmar lies within a key corridor stretching to the Jordan Valley, where Israel aims to expand and link¬†settlements, effectively cutting the West Bank into two.¬†(Photo: B’Tselem)

New York City
lower-east-side

New York City mayor: ‘no room’ for migrants

New York Mayor Eric Adams¬†traveled to the US-Mexico border and declared that “there is no room” for migrants in his city. At a press conference with El Paso Mayor Oscar Leeser, Adams called on the US government to help cities manage unprecedented levels of immigration, and claimed that the influx of migrants could cost New York City up to $2 billion. “The federal government should pick up the entire cost,” Adams said. “[W]e need a real leadership moment from FEMA. This is a national crisis.” He also criticized the governors of Texas and Colorado for contributing to a “humanitarian crisis that was created by man,” citing busloads of migrants sent to New York and other northern cities. But New York City comptroller Brad Lander dissented from Adams’ Texas trip, stating that it “reinforces a harmful narrative that new migrants themselves are a problem.” (Photo via TripAdvisor)

Palestine
Siloam

Political archaeology amid Jerusalem tensions

Israel’s new National Security Minister Itamar Ben-Gvir made a visit to al-Aqsa Mosque compound in Jerusalem, flanked by by a heavy security detail‚ÄĒeliciting outrage from the Palestinian leadership. The Palestinian Authority called the move “an unprecedented provocation,” with Prime Minister Mohammad Shtayyeh accusing Ben-Gvir of staging the visit as part of an agenda to turn the site “into a Jewish temple.” The fracas comes as Israeli authorities have launched another supposed archaeological project in East Jerusalem which critics say masks an ongoing program of “Judaization” of the Old City. This concerns the Pool of Siloam, a small reservoir believed to have served Jerusalem in biblical times. In making the announcement, officials visited the site, accompanied by a large detachment of police‚ÄĒsparking a spontaneous protest from local Palestinian residents. Three members of a Palestinian family that claims rights to the land in question were detained. (Photo: –ö—É–Ņ–į–Ľ—Ć–Ĺ—Ź –°–ł–Ľ–ĺ–į–ľ, –ė–Ķ—Ä—É—Ā–į–Ľ–ł–ľ via Wikimedia Commons)

Planet Watch
Guangzhou

Bicycling in China & the origins of Critical Mass

Legendary transportation activist George Bliss will be presenting a slideshow and hosting a discussion of his 1991 trip to China at the Museum of Reclaimed Urban Space (MoRUS) in New York City on Friday Dec. 9. What would NYC be like if we got rid of cars and everybody rode bikes? In 1991, Bliss and¬†filmmaker Ted White¬†visited Guangzhou, China (then pop. six million). Only one in a thousand owned cars. Bikes cost about $50. There was no theft because cheap attended bike-parking was everywhere. Riding en masse was fun, and traffic flowed safely and efficiently with almost no red lights. The term “critical mass“‚ÄĒfirst applied to this phenomenon by Bliss in White’s film Return of the Scorcher‚ÄĒsoon became a rallying cry in the global bike movement. While that China is long gone, its legacy points to the city we could yet have, even¬†half a world away.¬†(Photo: George Bliss)

Central Asia
Xinjiang

Podcast: state capitalism and the Uyghur genocide

In Episode 149 of the CounterVortex podcast, Bill Weinberg notes that the UN Human Rights Office determination that China may be guilty of “crimes against humanity” in its mass detention of Uyghurs in Xinjiang province is dismissed by the tankie-left ANSWER Coalition as “propagandistic.” Meanwhile, it falls to Radio Free Asia, media arm of the US State Department, to aggressively cover the very real conditions of forced labor faced by the Uyghurs and other Turkic peoples of Xinjiang‚ÄĒand how Western corporations benefit from it. While the Western pseudo-left betrays the Uyghurs, US imperialism exploits their suffering for propaganda against a rising China in the Great Game for the Asia-Pacific region. Figures such as Australia’s Kevin Rudd incorrectly portray a “Return of Red China,” blaming the PRC’s increasingly totalitarian direction on a supposed neo-Marxism. Fortunately, the new anthology Xinjiang Year Zero offers a corrective perspective, placing the industrial-detention complex and techno-security state in the context of global capitalism and settler colonialism. Listen on SoundCloud or via Patreon. (Photo: Xinjiang Judicial Administration¬†via The Diplomat)

New York City
traffic casualty

Podcast: against the anti-bicycle backlash

In Episode 142 of the CounterVortex podcast, Bill Weinberg takes on the ugly backlash against bicyclists in New York City, which has escalated from petitioning against bike lanes to dangerous anti-bicycle vigilantism. The recent killing of Chelsea resident Gavin Lee by a hit-and-run bicyclist became a rallying point for the anti-bike partisans. But 255 New Yorkers were killed by motorists last year, their names quickly forgotten by all but their loved ones. The killing of young bicycle messenger Robyn Hightman by a truck driver in 2019 briefly sparked protests. But the names of most victims of automotive terror quickly go down the media Memory Hole. Weinberg recounts some of the recent lives claimed by motorists in the city: Be Tran, Carling Mott, Christian Catalan, Lynn Christopher, Karina Larino, Eric Salitsky, Raife Milligan. It is the auto-centric system that pits pedestrians and bicyclists against each other. What is needed is the dismantling of this system, and its replacement with one that centers human beings and human-powered transport‚ÄĒas is already underway in several European cities. Listen on SoundCloud or via Patreon. (Photo: Bill Weinberg)

New York City
Loisaida

Podcast: political geography of the Lower East Side

In Episode 141 of the CounterVortex podcast, Bill Weinberg¬†defends the notion that he lives on New York’s Lower East Side, repudiating those who would insist that his neighborhood is actually the East Village or (worse) NoHo. Weinberg traces the nomenclature controversies going all the way back to the Lenape indigenous villages of the area, Dutch and English colonial settlement, the riots and uprisings of the “Gangs of New York” era, the neighborhood’s Puerto Rican identity as Loisaida, the origin of the name “East Village” in the hippie explosion of the 1960s, its cooptation by the real estate industry in the gentrification of the 1980s, and the resultant last gasp of anarchist resistance. Weinberg counts himself among a surviving coterie of old-timers who still consider the entire area to be the Lower East Side. Listen on SoundCloud or via Patreon. (Photo:¬†Carmen Pab√≥n del Amanecer Jard√≠n)

Europe
St Petersburg

Russia: municipal revolt against Putin

Dozens of municipal deputies from Moscow and St. Petersburg issued a public statement calling on Russian President Vladimir Putin to resign. “President Putin’s actions are detrimental to the future of Russia and its citizens,” reads the petition shared on Twitter by Xenia Torstrem, a deputy for St. Petersburg. The call comes amid claims of vote-rigging in local and regional elections‚ÄĒas well as a dramatic advance by Kyiv’s forces that marks the most significant setback yet in Moscow’s invasion of Ukraine. The call’s signatories, numbering some 30, are at risk of long prison terms under laws passed shortly after the invasion was launched, which have facilitated a harsh crackdown on dissent. (Photo of¬†St. Petersburg¬†via FW)

Greater Middle East
gezi

Europe rights court censures Turkey over detained activist

The European Court of Human Rights (ECHR) ruled¬†that Turkey violated a prior judgement in the case Kavala v. Turkey by keeping activist and philanthropist Osman Kavala in detention. Kavala was arrested in 2017, ostensibly for involvement in the Gezi Park protests in 2013 and an attempted coup d’etat in 2016. Kavala brought a complaint to the ECHR for wrongful detainment and won his case, with the court ordering his release. However, upon his release, he was immediately detained again, this time on the charge of “espionage.” Kavala was then sentenced to life in prison, and the ECHR opened infringement proceedings to determine whether this new sentence defied their original judgement. (Image: #OccupyGezi)

The Andes
Francia-Petro

Colombia: pending presidency ‘between two populisms’

Following a first round of presidential elections, “between two populisms” is the catchphrase being used by Colombia’s media for an unprecedented moment. A pair of political “outsiders” are to face each other in the run-off: Gustavo Petro, a former guerilla leader and Colombia’s first leftist presidential contender, versus Rodolfo Hern√°ndez, a construction magnate whose pugnacious swagger inevitably invites comparison to Donald Trump. Hern√°ndez, an independent candidate and the former mayor of Bucaramanga, rose precipitously in an ostensibly anti-establishment campaign driven by social media, winning him the epithet “King of TikTok.” But Colombia’s political establishment is now lining up behind him to defeat Petro. The former mayor of Bogot√° and a veteran of the demobilized M-19 guerillas, Petro is the candidate of a new progressive coalition, Colombia Humana, emphasizing multiculturalism and ecology as well as more traditional social justice demands. (Photo via Twitter)

Palestine
temple mount

Israel high court approves Temple Mount development

The Israeli Supreme Court¬†ruled in favor of the government’s planned cable car over the Temple Mount in Jerusalem. The ruling was met with approval by proponents such as Jerusalem’s mayor, Moshe Lion, who claimed the project will reduce air pollution and “allow comfortable and efficient access to the Western Wall and the Old City.” However, the project has been met with condemnation by many, including city planners and architects,environmental groups, and Karaite Jews, a minority sect with a cemetery located along the proposed cable car’s path. Palestinian groups have especially criticized the proposed path through East Jerusalem, an area ceded to Arab control in the 1949 armistice but occupied by Israel in 1967. Advocacy group Ir-Amim tweeted: “Folks will hop in in [West Jerusalem] and have no idea they’re cabling over the heads of occupied Palestinians.” (Photo: Adam Teva V’Din)