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.
The number of asylum seekers and migrants crossing the Mediterranean to reach Italy has surged this year, according to EU officials. More than 56,000 people have made the journey–almost double the total over the same period last year. The increase prompted Italy's government to declare a six-month state of emergency in April, in part to address overcrowding at a center for those who arrive on the Italian island of Lampedusa.
The UN migration agency reported June 13 that 2022 was the deadliest year yet for migrants crossing from the Middle East and North Africa (MENA) into Europe. According to the report from the International Organization for Migration's Missing Migrants Project, a record number of 3,800 people died along these migratory routes last year. The report underscored the urgent need for action to improve the safety and protection of migrants. The data, though recognized as undercounted due to the challenges in collecting information, sheds light on the magnitude of the problem. The recorded deaths in 2022 represent an 11% increase from the previous year.
Libyan politicians have wrapped up nearly three weeks of talks in Morocco meant to set a framework for the country's long-delayed elections. Back at home, the country's rival sides were cracking down hard on migrants and refugees. The Tripoli-based Government of National Unity has been using armed drones to target what it says are migrant traffickers bringing people in from Tunisia. In eastern Libya, authorities have reportedly rounded up between 4,000 and 6,000 Egyptian migrants, deporting some to Egypt and holding others in a customs hangar near the border. Some suspect that this has been driven by domestic and international political calculations by Gen. Khalifa Haftar, leader of the Libyan National Army that controls much of eastern Libya.
Human Rights Watch (HRW) warned on May 12 that Italy's newly passed Cutro law will have "devastating impacts" on migrants' rights, threatening their ability to seek protection, access fair asylum procedures, and move freely throughout the country. Ironically, the law was passed in response to a February shipwreck on the coast of southern Italy that left more than 80 migrants dead. HRW called upon Italy to "reverse course and ensure a humane and rights-respecting response to sea crossings."
The government of Kazakhstan has brought a legal action for violation of environmental protection laws against the North Caspian Operating Company (NCOC), the consortium leading development of the country's massive Kashagan oil field, seeking $5.14 billion in fines. In the complaint filed late last month, the Ministry of Ecology & Natural Resources cites storage of sulfur on site in excess of permitted limits, burning of crude gas on flares without a permit, improper discharge of wastewater, and other violations.
Supporters are warning that Italian anarchist militant Alfredo Cospito is in danger of dying in prison after more than a month on hunger strike. Cospito, being held at Bancali prison in Sassari, Sardinia, began his hunger strike Oct. 20 to protest the inhumane conditions he faces under Article 41-bis of the Italian legal code, with harsh restrictions on his mobility and communication with loved ones, and no prospects for a review of his life sentence. The European Court of Human Rights in 2019 ruled that Article 41-bis, designed for terrorist and Mafia-related cases, violates the European Convention on Human Rights.
Italy's Division of General Investigation & Special Operations (DIGOS) on Nov. 15 announced that it had broken up the Naples-based cell of an armed neo-Nazi network called the Order of Hagal, arresting five suspected militants. The five are being held on terrorist association and other charges. Raids were also carried out in several other cities across the country, including Milan, Turin, Palermo, Ragusa, Verona, Salerno, Potenza, Cosenza and Crotone, turning up large caches of fascist regalia. (ANSA, L'Arena, Agenzia Nova, La Repubblica, Sky TG24)