Daily Report

Russian playwright gets prison for 'justifying terrorism'

A Russian military court on July 15 convicted a playwright and a theater director and sentenced them each to six years in prison over a play that was found to "justify terrorism." The judge found writer Svetlana Petriychuk and director Yevgeniya Berkovich, who had been in pre-trial detention since May 2023, guilty under Article 205.2 of the Russian Criminal Code. This provision makes the offense of "justifying terrorism" punishable by up to seven years imprisonment.

China and Russia launch joint naval exercise

Chinese and Russian naval forces have begun a joint exercise at a southern Chinese military port, China's Ministry of National Defense announced July 12. The "Maritime Joint-2024" exercise is taking place off Zhanjiang, Guangdong province, on the South China Sea. Its stated objectives include demonstrating the the two nations' ability to address maritime security threats, maintain regional stability, and deepen their strategic partnership.

UN experts: famine spreads throughout Gaza Strip

United Nations experts affiliated with the Human Rights Council declared July 9 that famine has now undoubtedly spread throughout the Gaza Strip. The expert determination follows the deaths of three more Palestinian children in May and June. Six-month-old Fayez Ataya, 13-year-old Abdulqader al-Serhi, and nine-year-old Ahmad Abu Reida were all found by the experts to have died from malnutrition. The experts stressed that inaction by the international community amounts to complicity, adding: "Israel's intentional and targeted starvation campaign against the Palestinian people is a form of genocidal violence and has resulted in famine across all of Gaza."

AI, nuclear power and the end of the Earth

Tech companies now acknowledge that they are failing to meet their carbon emission reduction goals because of the mega-computing necessary for artificial intelligence—as if AI were something good and inevitable rather than ultra-dystopian. Meanwhile, the nuclear industry exploits carbon concerns to lubricate its comeback—with even countries like Kenya now planning reactors, amid oppressive and iniquitous social conditions. Even apart from the risk of devastating accidents, the normal functioning of nuclear power constitutes an ongoing disaster due to the dilemmas of waste disposal and the despoliation of indigenous lands by uranium mining. Climate disaster versus nuclear disaster is a false choice posed by omnicidal techno-capitalism. The only way to salvage a dignified human future lies in the abolition of fossil fuels, nuclear power and artificial intelligence alike. So argues Bill Weinberg in  Episode 234 of the CounterVortex podcast. Listen on SoundCloud or via Patreon.

Diego Garcia detainees in bureaucratic limbo

Lawyers for some of approximately 60 Sri Lankan Tamil asylum-seekers stranded on the British-held island of Diego Garcia have appealed to the UK's new Foreign Minister David Lammy to intervene after the US blocked them from visiting the island for a hearing set to take place this week. The US runs a secretive military facility on the island, and issued the decision to bar the legal team on a "confidential" basis, citing "national security." The lawyers are accusing the island's government—the British Indian Ocean Territory (BIOT) administration—of illegally detaining their clients, who have been confined to a small camp for nearly three years after fleeing Sri Lanka and India by boat. The BIOT administration claims to have no role in negotiating permission for the visit, but lawyers for the asylum-seekers say the administration has a duty to persuade the US to allow the hearing to take place and ensure the rule of law on the remote British territory.

Ecuador court rules that river in capital has rights

A court in Quito ruled that the Machángara River, which runs through the city, possesses rights under the Constitution of Ecuador, making the municipal government responsible for keeping it free from pollution, a local civic advocacy group reported July 5.

The court recognized the river as a living entity, subject to rights under Chapter 7 of the Constitution, which establishes that nature possesses a right to protection, promotion and restoration. The provision states that "all persons, communities, peoples or nations are able to call on public authorities to enforce the rights of nature." The Constitutional Court of Ecuador in January 2022 recognized that rivers are protected under Chapter 7.

Ukraine: Russian strikes hit largest children's hospital

Russian missile attacks on Ukraine killed dozens of people, injured hundreds, and damaged the country's largest children’s hospital, UN and Ukrainian officials announced July 8. Numerous commercial and residential buildings were struck in the wave of strikes on cities including Dnipro, Kramatorsk, Pokrovsk, Kryviy Rih and Kyiv, leading to the death of at least 36 and injuries to no less than 140 people. Kyiv's Ohmatdyt Children's Hospital was damaged with at least 16 injured, including children and medical staff, and two adults dead.

Protesters march in Israel to demand hostage deal

Anti-government protesters marched July 7 across Israel's major cities, aiming to pressure the authorities to instate a ceasefire in Gaza and reach a hostage deal with Hamas. Demonstrators blocked roads and gathered in front of the homes of government officials. The protesters marched to Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu's residence in Jerusalem, calling for immediate elections to replace his government. Simultaneously, thousands assembled in Tel Aviv, where Einav Zangauker, whose son is being held in Gaza, staged a symbolic protest by isolating herself in a cage suspended from a bridge over Begin Road. Addressing the crowd below, Zangauker described the entire region as being held hostage by Netanyahu and Yahya Sinwar, Hamas' leader in Gaza.

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