Outrage after police slaying of Atlanta forest defender
Protests and vigils have been held across the US following the police slaying of environmental activist Manuel Teran, 26, also known as Tortuguita, on Jan. 18 in Georgia's Dekalb County. A protest over the killing turned violent in downtown Atlanta Jan. 21, with a police car burned, windows smashed, and several arrested. Tortuguita was shot in a police raid on an encampment in the Weelaunee Forest, a threatened woodland within the South River Forest conservation area. The Atlanta Police Foundation seeks to clear hundreds of acres in order to build a $90 million Public Safety Training Center, referred to as "Cop City" by local residents.
German police clash with anti-mine protestors
German police clashed with protestors Jan. 14 as thousands rallied for the protection of the village of Lützerath, which is set to be destroyed to make way for a coal mine. Earlier in the week, a German regional court upheld a ruling to clear the village, which is in the brown-coal district of the western state of North Rhine-Westphalia. Utility company RWE says it reached a deal with the regional government last year that allows the village to be destroyed in return for ending coal use by 2030, rather than 2038. The protest attracted high-profile climate activists Greta Thunberg and Luisa Neubauer, who joined what organizers estimated as a 35,000-strong crowd, although German police put the number at 10,000.
Mining corruption behind Mongolia unrest
Following angry street protests in Ulaanbaatar, the Mongolian government has agreed to open an investigation into the so-called "coal mafia," a group of state officials and executives accused pilfering the country's subsurface wealth for personal profit to the tune of some $12 billion. Demonstrators attempted to storm the Government Palace on Dec. 4, and blocked the capital's main boulevard, Peace Avenue. At issue are the vast Tavan Tolgoi coalfields in the Gobi Desert, under exploitation by the Mongolian Mining Corporation, a pillar of the national economy. (BNE Intellinews, BNE Intellinews, EuroWeekly News)
Venezuela: oil sanctions eased, Chevron pleased
Negotiations barely got started in Mexico between representatives of Venezuelan President Nicolás Maduro and his political opposition last month before the United States announced the loosening of oil sanctions imposed on the regime. The move, allowing Chevron to begin pumping oil again, comes amid global energy shortages following Russia's invasion of Ukraine. Profits are to go to Venezuela's creditors in the US, not the state oil firm, PDVSA.
Tanzania villagers sue Barrick Gold over rights abuses
A group of Tanzanian villagers on Nov. 23 filed legal action with the Ontario Superior Court of Justice against Canadian mining company Barrick Gold over human rights violations at its North Mara Gold Mine. It marks the first time that the mining company has faced legal action in Canada for rights violations abroad. The plaintiffs, members of the indigenous Kurya community in northern Tanzania, allege that special "mine police" assigned by the security forces to protect the facility use extreme violence against local residents. The mine has been the site of repeated protests over environmental degradation and forced displacement of villagers. The legal action includes claims for five deaths, five incidents of torture and five injuries from shootings.
COP27: progress on 'loss and damage,' not mitigation
The 27th UN Climate Change Conference (COP27) closed Nov. 20 with what was hailed as a breakthrough agreement to establish a "loss and damage" fund for vulnerable countries on the frontlines of climate disasters. Yet no action was taken to stop oil and gas expansion from fueling further disasters. India had pushed a proposal to extend to all fossil fuels the agreement to "phase down" coal reached last year at COP26 in Glasgow. A broad coalition of more than 80 countries took up the call, but host country Egypt, holding the presidency of the conference, was able to block the measure, acceding to powerful opponents prominently including Saudi Arabia and Russia. (ENS, NYT, Jurist, Climate Home News)
Swiss oil CEO faces trial for Sudan war crimes
The Supreme Court of Sweden on Nov. 10 ruled that the trial of Alex Schneiter, a Swiss citizen and former CEO of Lundin Oil charged in connection with war crimes in Sudan, may proceed in the Swedish courts. While Lundin Oil is a Swedish-based company, Schneiter claims that he cannot be tried in Sweden because he is neither a citizen nor a resident. This claim was rejected by the lower courts, and now by the high court. The Supreme Court held that Schneiter's alleged crimes are subject to "universal jurisdiction," which allows anyone to be prosecuted anywhere in the world for serious international crimes. Justice Johan Danelius concluded: "The fact that the defendant is not [resident] in Sweden does not constitute an obstacle to Swedish jurisdiction, provided that the connection to Sweden in other respects is sufficient." The criminal case will now proceed in the Stockholm District Court.
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—and 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.
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