Oil contracts at issue in Somaliland conflict?
Fighting continues in Somalia's northern breakaway state of Somaliland, where three eastern administrative regions—Sool, Sanaag, and Aynaba—have taken up arms in a bid to rejoin the internationally recognized Mogadishu government. Somaliland accuses the neighboring autonomous region of Puntland and the government of Ethiopia (which is officially attempting to broker a dialogue in the conflict) of intervening on the side of the re-integrationist rebels, who are headquartered in the town of Las Anod, Sool region. Somaliland has been effectively independent since 1991, and has seen a more stable and secular social order than the regions controlled by the Mogadishu government.
Taiwan extends military conscription period
Taiwan's President Tsai Ing-wen on Dec. 27 announced a plan to strengthen and restructure the nation's military defense strategies, including extending the mandatory conscription period from four months to one year. Beginning in 2024, all males born after Jan. 1, 2005, will need to undergo a year-long period of military service. In light of China's expansionist military activities in the South China Sea and the firing of ballistic missiles into waters off Taiwan this year, Tsai stressed the need for Taiwan to be well-prepared for war as a means to avoid confrontation. "The decision is a difficult one, but as the head of the military and for the continued survival of Taiwan, this is an inevitable responsibility," Tsai said.
Roger Waters: another brick in the war propaganda
In Episode 140 of the CounterVortex podcast, Bill Weinberg calls out former Pink Floyd creative genius Roger Waters as a propaganda agent for the criminal regimes of Vladimir Putin, Xi Jinping and Bashar Assad. In his recent CNN interview, Waters blames Ukraine for getting invaded, falsely states that "Taiwan is part of China," and dismisses as "bollocks" that there are human rights abuses in China. He has the unmitigated chutzpah to send an open letter on social media to Ukrainian First Lady Elena Zelenska urging her to use her influence on her husband to "end the war"—to which she rightly responds: "If we give up, we will not exist tomorrow. If Russia gives up, war will be over." We've noted before Roger's spewing of genocide-abetting denialism about the Syria chemical attacks. And he disses his own fans who don't go along with his war propaganda. Roger Waters has become the fascist rock star he once satirized in The Wall. The public acrimony between Waters and his ex-bandmate David Gilmour has now become political, with Gimour's release (under the banner of Pink Floyd) of the song "Hey Hey, Rise Up," explicitly in support of Ukraine. David Gilmour is right, while Roger Waters is now just another brick in the wall.
Taiwan expands rights for indigenous peoples
Taiwan's President Tsai Ing-wen on Aug. 3, speaking at an Indigenous Rights Forum in Taipei held to mark Indigenous Peoples' Day, pledged new measures to protect and promote the languages, cultures and territorial rights of the island nation's Aboriginal communities. Tsai noted that the new Indigenous Peoples Basic Act seeks to bring Taiwanese law and policy into conformity with the UN Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples (UNDRIP), and calls for re-assigning the country's place names to reflect Aboriginal languages. Her office has established a Transitional Justice Committee to oversee implementation of the law in collaboration with Aboriginal communities.
Honduras transition in the New Cold War
Hondurans last month elected Xiomara Castro of the left-populist LIBRE Party to be the country's first woman president, defeating Nasry Asfura of the conservative National Party. Taking office next month, Castro is to replace the National Party's President Juan Orlando Hernández, whose term has been plagued by scandal and accusations of ties to narco-trafficking. The wife of Manuel Zelaya, the populist president who was removed in a coup in 2009, Castro seems poised to revive his program—and take it much further. "Never again will the power be abused in this country," she declared upon her victory. She has proclaimed herself a "democratic socialist," and pledges to govern through a new model of "participatory democracy," placing a series of reforms before the voters through referenda or "consultas."
Rapid nuclear escalation, East and West
Russia's Deputy Foreign Minister Sergei Ryabkov on Dec. 13 warned that Moscow will deploy intermediate-range nuclear weapons if NATO does not accede to demands to stop arming Ukraine and guarantee an end to eastward expansion of the alliance. His remarks came days after US President Joe Biden and Russia's Vladimir Putin held a two-hour video conference aimed at defusing tensions over the Russian military build-up along Ukraine's border, where the Kremlin is estimated to have amassed some 100,000 troops.
Podcast: R2P in the 21st Century
In Episode 101 of the CounterVortex podcast, we present the audio from a panel at the Ninth Biennial International Conference of the Herbert Marcuse Society, held in October at Arizona State University in Tempe. The panel, "The Responsibility to Protect in the Twenty-First Century," features two presentations. Javier Sethness speaks on "Realism, Egalitarianism, and Internationalism," providing a theoretical and historical framework for the question, including a discussion of Herbert Marcuse's work with US intelligence in World War II. Bill Weinberg, speaking via Zoom from New York, follows with "For Solidarity; Against Dictators and Campism," discussing contemporary examples, including Syria, Libya, Burma and Taiwan. A third presentation was to have been offered by Anner G. in Ethiopia, on "The Responsibility to Protect in Tigray," but she was unable to join. The work of her group, Horn Anarchists, is briefly discussed in Weinberg's presentation. Listen on SoundCloud or via Patreon.
Podcast: the countervortex of global resistance II
In Episode 100 of the CounterVortex podcast, Bill Weinberg discusses recent uprisings in two disparate parts of the world—the South Pacific archipelago nation of the Solomon Islands and two of the states that have emerged from the former Yugoslavia. In both cases, people who were pissed off for damn good reason took to the streets to oppose foreign capital, and corrupt authoritarian leaders who do its bidding. But in the Solomon Islands, popular rage was deflected into campism and ethnic scapegoating, while in Serbia and Kosova the people on the ground actually overcame entrenched and bitter ethnic divisions to make common cause against common oppressors. The contrast holds lessons for global protest movements from Hong Kong to New York City. Listen on SoundCloud or via Patreon.
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