Watching the Shadows

Internet censorship laws advance worldwide

The United Nations Human Rights Office on Oct. 14 expressed concern over Turkey's adoption of legal measures "that risk substantially curtailing freedom of expression in the country." One day earlier, the Turkish parliament passed a package of laws that could see journalists and activists imprisoned for up to three years for spreading "disinformation." (Jurist) The day before that, Ugandan President Yoweri Museveni signed the Computer Misuse (Amendment) Act into law, which advocacy group Unwanted Witness called a "looming nightmare to the freedom of expression and speech." (Jurist) Last month, Tunisian authorities promulgated Decree No. 54 on Combating Crimes Related to Information & Communication Systems, imposing five years imprisonment for spreading "fake news." (Jurist)

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.

Podcast: against pseudo-left disinformation on Ukraine and Syria

In Episode 138 of the CounterVortex podcast, Bill Weinberg is outraged that The Nation magazine marks the ninth anniversary of the Ghouta chemical massacre by engaging in glib "false flag" theorizing—the predictable response of the post-truth pseudo-left. This sinister spewing from writer David Bromwich is but the latest entry in a long and shameful litany of pro-Assad and pro-Putin propaganda to appear in The Nation. Similar chemical denialism has been dished out by James Carden, and loaned credence by Phyllis Bennis—despite the findings of bona fide human rights groups. The Nation's Bob Dreyfuss has expressed open support for the genocidal dictatorship of Bashar Assad. The Nation's late éminence grise Stephen F. Cohen has spread dishonest Russian propaganda both on Syria and on Ukraine, his spewings eagerly lapped up by Tucker Carlson. Weinberg asserts that The Nation has become a vehicle of Kremlin foreign policy aims, and calls for a complete boycott. Listen on SoundCloud or via Patreon.

Afghan detainee released from Guantánamo

The US Department of Defense on June 24 announced the release of Asadullah Haroon Gul, an Afghan national, who had been held for 15 years without charge at the Guantánamo Bay detention camp. Gul was incarcerated at Guantánamo in 2007 on accusations of being a member of al-Qaeda and Hezb-e-Islami (HIA), an insurgent group that fought against the US in Afghanistan. HIA signed a peace agreement with the US-backed Afghan government in 2016.

Chomsky and Kissinger: paradoxical unity

In Episode 125 of the CounterVortex podcast, Bill Weinberg continues his deconstruction of the increasingly sinister, aggression-abetting politics of Noam Chomsky. In his recent interview with Current Affairs, Chomsky echoes Henry Kissinger's lecturing to the Ukrainians that they must capitulate to Russian aggression in the interests of global stability—a directive promptly repudiated by Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky. Chomsky has long been peddling historical revisionism on Ukraine, but his current convergence with Kissinger is a case study in imperial narcissism—an internalization of the imperialist perspective he has ostensibly dedicated his life to opposing. Fortunately, there is growing dissent on the left to Chomsky's paradoxical Kissingerian line, including from Ukrainian-American scholars—and from Chomsky's own Ukrainian translator, Artem Chapeye.

Podcast: against Chomsky's genocide complicity

In Episode 120 of the CounterVortex podcast, Bill Weinberg invites the enmity of his comrades on the left with a long-overdue deconstruction of the increasingly sinister, genocide-abetting politics of Noam Chomsky. In relentless sycophantic interviews, Chomsky inevitably opposes a no-fly zone for Ukraine, war crimes charges against Putin, or even sanctions against Russia, on the grounds that such moves would lead to nuclear war. He offers no acknowledgment of how capitulating to Putin's nuclear threats incentivizes such threats, and the stockpiling of the missiles and warheads to back them up. This is part of a long pattern with Chomsky. He has repeatedly engaged in ugly and baseless "false flag" theorizing about the Syria chemical attacks, leading activists in the Arab world to accuse him of "regime whitewashing." He similarly abetted Bosnia genocide revisionism and (especially through his collaborations with the late Edward Herman) denial of the genocides in Rwanda and Cambodia. All this can be traced to the analytical and ultimately moral and intellectual distortions of the so-called "Chomsky rule"—the notion that we are only allowed to criticize crimes committed by "our" side. An illustrative irony is that Chomsky will cynically exploit the suffering of the Palestinians to distract from and relativize the oppression of Uyghurs in China, yet his stance on Palestine is actually timid and cowardly—clinging to a "two-state solution," and opposing BDS as a form of pressure on Israel. Listen on SoundCloud or via Patreon.

Podcast: Russia and the new fascism

In Episode 111 of the CounterVortex podcast, Bill Weinberg explores the legacy of Francis Parker Yockey and other exponents of the now fast-growing current in the Western fascist tradition that has looked to Russia as a patron and ally. Under the leadership of Alexander Dugin, "Putin's Rasputin" and the theorist of a "Eurasian" bloc against the Western democratic powers, resurgent far-right Russo-nationalism is building ties to neo-fascist organizations across Europe—as well as to supposed "anti-war" leftists in the United States. The Putin propaganda machine's Nazi-baiting of the Ukrainians is yet another example of the sinister trend of fascist pseudo-anti-fascism. It is imperative that progressives in the West do not take the toxic bait of this "Red-Brown Alliance." Any genuine anti-war position must begin with repudiating Putin's threats and aggression against Ukraine.

UN experts condemn Gitmo on grim anniversary

A group of United Nations experts have condemned the US Guantánamo Bay detention facility in Cuba, calling it a site of "unparalleled notoriety." The statement came on the eve of Jan. 11, which marks the twentieth anniversary of the arrival of the first terrorism suspects at Guantánamo.

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