Germany

German court rejects climate suit against Mercedes-Benz

A German court on Sept. 13 rejected a lawsuit filed by environmental group Deutsche Umwelthilfe (Environmental Action Germany) seeking to bar Mercedes-Benz from selling cars with combustion engines that emit greenhouse gases after 2030. Deutsche Umwelthilfe asserted that Mercedes-Benz must comply with the Paris Climate Protection Agreement and the German Climate Protection Act regarding reduction in its vehicles' CO2 emissions. Deutsche Umwelthilfe charged that the "new vehicles from Mercedes have the highest CO2 emissions of all manufacturers in Europe," and "German car manufacturers have been preventing effective climate protection laws for decades."

Russia 'weaponizing' gas supplies to Europe

Russian energy giant Gazprom cut off the flow of natural gas to Germany and other European markets via the Nord Stream pipeline on Aug. 31, calling it a three-day shut-down for maintenance purposes. But Western governments charge that Russia is "weaponizing" gas supplies amid the Ukraine war. (EuroNews) Days earlier, Germany's government broached allowing the blocked Nord Stream 2 pipeline to begin pumping Russian gas. Wolfgang Kubicki, vice president of the Bundestag, said the move is necessary so "people do not have to freeze in winter and that our industry does not suffer serious damage." His comment prompted a harsh response from Kyiv, where Foreign Minister Dmytro Kuleba said that "addiction to Russian gas kills." (Politico)

Ukrainian self-determination: Bandera or Makhno? II

In Episode 130 of the CounterVortex podcast, Bill Weinberg continues his comparison of the two legendary and diametrically opposed exponents of Ukrainian armed resistance to Russian rule: the World War II-era right-wing nationalist Stepan Bandera and the World War I-era revolutionary anarchist Nestor Makhno. Much contemporary left commentary in the West echoes Russian propaganda in portraying Bandera simply as a Nazi collaborator, while many contemporary anarchists (at least) glorify Makhno as a visionary of agrarian utopia. Much is left out of both these narratives. Bandera was quickly betrayed by the Nazis and slapped in a concentration camp after he refused to renounce his declaration of Ukrainian independence. And while historians have had much to say about anti-Semitic pogroms by all factions in the multi-sided 1917-21 civil war in Ukraine, it is only recent scholarship that has brought to light reprisals and atrocities by Makhno's forces against Mennonite agricultural colonies. Listen on SoundCloud or via Patreon.

Podcast: Ukraine & 'the Russian menace to Europe'

In Episode 116 of the CounterVortex podcast, Bill Weinberg provides an overview of geostrategic and political thinking on the criticality of Eastern Europe and especially Ukraine, from the Crimean War to the contemporary catastrophe. Despite contemporary misconceptions, Karl Marx and Frederick Engels shared the perception of a "Russian menace to Europe" with theorists of Western imperialism such as Halford John Mackinder, Lord Curzon, Alfred Thayer Mahan, Nicholas J. Spykman, and Zbigniew Brzezinski. Arch-reactionary or openly fascist conceptions of "Eurasianism" were taken up by the German Karl Haushofer and the Russians Mikhail Katkov and Ivan Ilyin—the latter a formative influence on Alexander Dugin, the intellectual mastermind of Vladimir Putin's revanchist imperial project.

Ukraine war portends new oil shock

Long-depressed oil prices are suddenly soaring in response to the Russian invasion of Ukraine, with impacts already being felt globally. Kazakhstan, recently wracked by internal instability, is facing economic crisis as its crude exports are threatened. Most of these exports pass through a pipeline linking Kazakhstan's western oil-fields to Russia's Black Sea terminal at Novorossiysk. That terminal, owned by the Caspian Pipeline Consortium (CPC), lies within 250 kilometers of the Ukrainian port of Mariupol, now besieged by Russian forces. This proximity is sufficient for tankers loading at the Novorossiysk terminal to incur a "war risk insurance premium." According to S&P Global Platts, the premium has been high enough to deter buyers since the Russian invasion of Ukraine was launched late last month.

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.

Podcast: Nuclear power? No thanks!

In Episode 110 of the CounterVortex podcast, Bill Weinberg rants against the current greenwashing of nuclear power, and hype about a supposedly "safe" new generation of reactors. Every stage of the nuclear cycle is ecocidal and genocidal. Uranium mining has poisoned the lands of indigenous peoples from Navajo Country to Saskatchewan to West Africa. The ongoing functioning of nuclear plants entails routine emissions of radioactive gases, factored in by the bureaucrats in determining "acceptable" levels of cancer. Disposal of the waste, and the retired reactor sites themselves, is a problem that inherently defies solution. These wastes will be deadly for exponentially longer into the future than biblical times stretch into the past. The Waste Isolation Pilot Project (WIPP) in New Mexico, hyped as secure for hundreds of millennia, leaked plutonium after only 13 years. And finally there is the "sexiest" issue, the one that actually gets some media play, at least—the risk of accident. It is a mark of capitalism's depravity that even after the nightmares of Fukushima and Chernobyl, we periodically get media campaigns about an imminent "nuclear renaissance." Meanwhile, virtually ongoing smaller accidents go by with barely a media ripple. Nuclear versus fossil fuels is the false choice offered us by industry. The imperative is to get off the extraction economy and on to one based on sustainability and resource conservation.

Podcast: antivax is fascist II

In Episode 103 of the CounterVortex podcast, Bill Weinberg, still suffering from possible COVID-19 symptoms, again notes how the radical right, including neo-Nazi elements, is in the vanguard of anti-vax and anti-mask protests, from Germany to Romania to England to Brooklyn. A virtual industry churns out relentless online disinformation that is easily refuted by anyone who makes the effort to break out of the confirmation-bias bubble. Contrary to the conspiranoid propaganda, COVID-19 deaths are actually being underestimated. The juvenile Nazi-baiting of the anti-vax machine is another example of the propaganda device of fascist pseudo-anti-fascism. Meanwhile, Tuskegee experiment survivors are encouraging vaccinations, and the Peoples Vaccine Alliance protests the actual crimes of Big Pharma—failing to make the vaccine available to Africa and the much of the Global South, in what has been decried as "vaccine apartheid." Listen on SoundCloud or via Patreon.

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