In both the United States and United Kingdom, progressive politicians have been censured for use of the slogan "Palestine will be free from the river to the sea." Much media reportage has simply accepted portrayals of the slogan as inherently anti-Semitic and a call for genocide. Nor, given the Hamas atrocities of Oct. 7 and the wave of anti-Semitic attacks around the world since then, should such concerns be merely dismissed. Indeed, the slogan does inherently challenge the precepts of Zionism and the moribund dogma of a two-state solution. In Episode 199 of the CounterVortex podcast, Bill Weinberg urges that it is incumbent upon activists to articulate a vision of a single secular state with equal rights for all in historic Palestine. While this may seem utopian, clarity on this question will make us more tactically effective in advancing the urgent immediate demand: a ceasefire in Gaza.
In Episode 196 of the CounterVortex podcast, Bill Weinberg notes with alarm the police-state measures being put in place in Israel, as well as Germany, France and the United Kingdom, to suppress protest against Israel's criminal assault on Gaza, now approaching a genocidal threshold. This has obvious echoes of the draconian crackdown on anti-war dissent in Russia since the launch of the Ukraine invasion. The more Israel and its Western allies which are also backing Ukraine come to resemble the fascist state of Vladimir Putin, both in criminal military tactics and police-state measures to suppress dissent to such tactics, the worse it will to be not only for the Palestinians, but also in the long run for the Ukrainians.
UK Minister for Security Tom Tugendhat updated Parliament June 6 about Chinese "overseas police service stations" operating within the United Kingdom. Tugendhat told lawmakers that the UK has ordered China to close any remaining "police stations" on UK soil, calling the stations' existence "unacceptable." Tugendhat said that British authorities received reports from non-governmental organization Safeguard Defenders of these stations in Croydon, Hendon and Glasgow, with allegations of another in Belfast.
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.
In Episode 167 of the CounterVortex podcast, Bill Weinberg examines Putin's plans to place tactical nuclear weapons in Belarus. The Russian strongman's dubious justification for the move is the UK's decision to supply depleted uranium shells to Ukraine. Depleted uranium is indeed sinister stuff—but Russia itself has been already using DU weapons in Ukraine for over a year now! Russia's reckless occupation of the Zaporizhzhia power plant also represents a far more serious escalation on the ladder of nuclear terror than the use of DU. Putin further claims he is merely countering the NATO tactical nuclear weapons stationed in Europe. But NATO's warheads are stored in underground vaults, to be loaded onto plane-dropped gravity bombs if the Alliance makes a decision for their use. In contrast, Moscow has already placed nuclear-capable tactical missiles in Belarus—as well as in the Russian exclave of Kaliningrad, bordering NATO members Poland and Lithuania. If these were armed with warheads, it would represent a dramatic escalation in hair-trigger readiness. Additionally, Belarusian dictator Alexander Lukashenko has now broached actually having Russian strategic ICBMs placed in his country. The civil opposition in Belarus has been effectively crushed in a wave of mass repression over the past three years—but an underground resistance movement is now emerging. This struggle finds itself on the frontline of the very question of human survival. Listen on SoundCloud or via Patreon.
The UK government on Jan. 16 introduced amendments to the pending Public Order Bill to change the definition of "serious disruption," broadening the range of situations in which police in England and Wales may act to stop protests. Police will not need to wait for disruption to take place to shut down protests under the proposed measures. The amendments would also create a new criminal offense for interfering with "key national infrastructure." The amendments are clearly aimed at activist groups such as Extinction Rebellion, Just Stop Oil and Insulate Britain.
In Episode 147 of the CounterVortex podcast, Bill Weinberg notes the recent statement from the UN Environment Program that "only a root-and-branch transformation of our economies and societies can save us from accelerating climate disaster." Studies from similarly prestigious global bodies have raised the prospect of imminent human extinction. An International Energy Agency report released last year warned that new fossil fuel exploration needed to halt by 2022 in order to keep warming within the limits set by the 2015 Paris Agreement. Adoption of new technologies and emissions standards does mean that CO2 emissions from energy generation (at least) are likely to peak by 2025. But the IEA finds that this would still lead to global temperatures rising by 2.5 C above pre-industrial levels by century's end—exceeding the Paris Agreement limits, with catastrophic climate impacts. And the catastrophic impacts, already felt in places like (just for example) Chad and Cameroon, win but scarce media coverage. Climate-related conflict has already escalated to genocide in Darfur, and possibly in Syria. The oil companies, meanwhile, are constitutionally incapable of writing off the "stranded assets" of vast hydrocarbon investments. Climate protests in Europe—at oil terminals and car shows (as well as, less appropriately, museums)—do win some attention. But the ongoing resistance to still-expanding oil mega-projects in places like Uganda and Tanzania are comparatively invisible to the outside world. The dire warnings from the UN and IEA raise the imperative for a globalized resistance with an explicitly anti-capitalist politics. Listen on SoundCloud or via Patreon.
NATO on Oct. 17 opened an annual exercise to test nuclear deterrence capabilities in Europe, with the participation of 14 of the 30 member countries. The drill, this year dubbed "Steadfast Noon," will run two weeks and involve 60 aircraft. "As in previous years, US B-52 long-range bombers will take part; this year, they will fly from Minot Air Base in North Dakota," NATO said in a statement. "Training flights will take place over Belgium, which is hosting the exercise, as well as over the North Sea and the United Kingdom."