International Criminal Court (ICC) prosecutor Karim Khan announced July 13 that the court has opened an investigation into human rights offenses committed by the Sudanese Armed Forces (SAF) and rival Rapid Security Forces (RSF), 90 days after the current conflict began in Sudan. Khan appeared before the UN Security Council to make the announcement.
The Security Council has failed to renew the resolution allowing the UN to deliver aid across the border from Turkey to northwest Syria, throwing into question the future of a relief effort that is crucial for millions of people. The resolution, which has allowed the UN cross into rebel-held territories without the permission of Syrian leader Bashar al-Assad, expired on July 10. The following day, Russia vetoed a new resolution that would have allowed access through one border crossing into the region, Bab al-Hawa, for nine months.
Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan has dropped his opposition to Sweden's entry into NATO, it was announced just ahead of the opening of the military alliance summit in Vilnius July 11. US President Joe Biden thanked Erdogan for his "courage" in clearing the way for Stockholm's bid. In an apparent quid pro quo, the State Department said the administration is dropping its objections to Turkey purchasing F-16 fighter jets from the US. Congress opposed sales of the jets to Turkey after Ankara bought Russian S-400 missile systems in 2017.
In Episode 182 of the CounterVortex podcast, Bill Weinberg takes heart in SAG-AFTRA joining 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 by AI. The post-truth zeitgeist and online cognitive environment of total propaganda is set to become exponentially worse, both quantitatively and qualitatively, through the advent of "deep-fakes," indistinguishable from actual reality. Objective truth, even as a very concept, is about to be abolished—unless the human race stands up and says no to AI, before it is too late. Contrary to the dogma that the "advance" (sic) and ubiquity of this technology is inevitable, resistance is possible. Italy this year banned use of ChatGPT within the country. Listen on SoundCloud or via Patreon.
Hundreds of Black African migrants were rounded up from the Tunisian port city of Sfax, expelled across the country's border with Libya and left stranded in the desert last week, sparking street protests by the large community of migrants waiting in the city. According to reports, some managed to escape back to the Tunisian side after being confronted by Libyan militiamen, but the fate of all those expelled has still not been accounted for. The expulsions came after mobs attacked Black Africans in Sfax following the funeral of a Tunisian man who was stabbed to death in an altercation with migrants. Tensions have been rising for months in Tunisia, which has seen a sharp increase in people attempting to cross the Mediterranean from its shores this year. (TNH, AfricaNews, Jurist)
The rate of deforestation in the Brazilian Amazon has fallen significantly since President Luiz Inácio "Lula" da Silva took office in January 2023, according to government data released July 7. The area of deforestation detected by space agency INPE's forest monitoring system amounted to 2,649 square kilometers in the first half of the year—a 34% decline from the same period last year. The loss in the first six months of 2023 is the lowest since 2019, according to the satellite-based deforestation tracking system, known as DETER. Lula has prioritized reining in deforestation since assuming the presidency. Last month, he announced his administration's plan to eliminate deforestation by 2030 as part of Brazil's pledge to reduce greenhouse gas emissions. (Mongabay)
Amnesty International on July 4 urged Cameroon's authorities to investigate human rights violations committed in the country's conflicted Anglophone regions, the North-West and South-West. According to a new report, armed separatists and the military alike are responsible for killings, torture, rape and destruction of property. In the North-West in particular, long-standing conflicts between Mbororo Fulani herders and sedentary farmers have been fuelling armed violence. As the situation has deteriorated over the past years, militias, mainly composed of Mbororo Fulani and supported or tolerated by the authorities, have committed atrocities against civil populations. The official security forces have responded to this situation with further rights violations.
In Episode 181 of the CounterVortex podcast, Bill Weinberg discusses the strange reality that the Barbie move has been banned in Vietnam over a brief image of a world map appearing to show the "nine-dash line" demarcating China's unilaterally claimed territory in the South China Sea. While US-China brinkmanship over Taiwan has won headlines recently, Beijing's maritime dispute with Hanoi holds unsettling potential for escalation. In a nearly surreal paradox (for those who remember their history) Vietnam has actually been tilting to the US in the new cold war with China. It has also been increasingly resorting to internal police-state measures to protect the interests of foreign capital in the country. All of this constitutes a rebuke both to the neoliberals, who cling to the discredited dogma that "free markets" inevitably lead to peace and democracy, and to the tankies, who rally around both the regimes in Beijing and Hanoi, in defiance of political reality.