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)
In Episode 151 of the CounterVortex podcast, Bill Weinberg notes a tellingly ironic juxtaposition of simultaneous news stories: the COP27 global climate summit in Egypt and the World Cup games in Qatar—where mega-scale stadium air-conditioning betrays the fundamental unseriousness of our civilization in addressing the impending climate apocalypse. The COP27 agreement for a "loss and damage" fund stops short of demands for climate reparations—a critical question for island nations that stand to disappear beneath the waves, flood-devastated Pakistan, and indigenous peoples of the fire-ravaged Bolivian Amazon. Petro powers like Russia and Saudi Arabia formed a bloc to bar any progress on limiting further expansion of oil and gas exploitation, while the Ukrainian delegation called for a boycott of Moscow's hydrocarbons, and pointed to the massive ecological toll of Russia's war of aggression. Meanwhile, the world population reached 8 billion, providing an excuse for groups like PopulationMatters to proffer the Malthusian fallacy even as the rate of population growth is actually slowing. Worldwide indigenous and peasant resistance to hydrocarbon exploitation points to a revolutionary response to the crisis.
In Episode 150 of the CounterVortex podcast, Bill Weinberg calls out the panelists at The People's Forum event on "The Real Path to Peace in Ukraine"—including the inevitable Noam Chomsky and Medea Benjamin—for actually spreading Russian war propaganda, in Orwellian manner. As Ukraine makes advances on the ground, liberating the city of Kherson (which Moscow had declared as "annexed"), Russia retaliates with massive missile strikes targeting civilian infrastructure such as heating plants as the bitter Ukrainian winter approaches—clearly war crimes, aimed at breaking the will of the populace. But rather than protesting the Russian bombardment, these pseudo-anti-war voices join with the Trumpian right in calling for an end to Western military aid to Ukraine. And rather than Russian mass atrocities and illegal annexation of Ukrainian territory, they point to imaginary pressure on Kyiv from the West not to negotiate as the obstacle to peace.
Russia's heretofore secretive private mercenary force, the Wagner Group, has opened its first official headquarters, in an office building in the city of Saint Petersburg—with a stylized W logo and the words "Wagner Center" in Russian emblazoned on the glass door facing the street. Putin-allied oligarch Yevgeny Prigozhin last month also publicly confirmed for the first time that he is the founder of the mercenary outfit. (Al Jazeera) These are amusing developments after years of claims that the Wagner Group—which is accused in a string of horrific human rights abuses both in Ukraine and across Africa—doesn't actually exist.
Russian forces have committed war crimes and likely crimes against humanity by unlawfully transferring or deporting civilians from occupied parts of in Ukraine to Russia or Russian-controlled territory, according to an Amnesty International report released Nov. 10. Russian and Russian-backed authorities have also forced civilians through an abusive screening process known as "filtration," during which some were arbitrarily detained, subject to torture or other ill-treatment, and separated from their children.
In Episode 148 of the CounterVortex podcast, Bill Weinberg notes that the ANSWER Coalition—a formation so "tankie" that it actually displays portraits of the genocidal Syrian dictator Bashar Assad at its Orwellian "anti-war" rallies—is holding a panel at The People's Forum in New York on "The Real Path to Peace in Ukraine." The headlining speaker is to be Jeremy Corbyn, who was bashed by Ukraine's government as a "useful idiot" of Vladimir Putin for joining a panel demanding a cut-off of military to aid to the besieged nation. Other panelists are even more subservient to Moscow's military aims, including Vijay Prashad, Medea Benjamin, Jill Stein and Brian Becker. Notably absent from the panel (of course) are any progressive Ukrainian voices—such as Anatoliy Dubovik and Sergiy Shevchenko of Ukraine's Revolutionary Confederation of Anarcho-Syndicalists; Yuliya Yurchenko or Vladislav Starodubtsev of the Ukrainian left-opposition group Sotsialniy Rukh (Social Movement); Taras Bilous, editor of the Ukrainian socialist journal Commons; or Artem Chapeye, Noam Chomsky's Ukrainian translator who called Chomsky out in an open letter for abetting Russian propaganda after the war began. All these Ukrainian voices, whatever strong criticism they may have of the neoliberal government of Volodymyr Zelensky, are unequivocal on the need to defend Ukraine against Russian imperialist assault. Whereas this hypocritical "anti-war" panel is an exercise in pseudo-pacifist war propaganda.
A preliminary report from the United Nations Educational, Scientific & Cultural Organization (UNESCO) on Oct. 25 revealed the extent of damage to Ukraine's cultural heritage since Russia invaded in February. UNESCO verified damage to 207 cultural sites, including 88 religious sites, 15 museums, 76 buildings of historic or artistic interest, 18 monuments, and 10 libraries. The report is sourced from satellite images taken before and after the start of the war by both the UN and private companies. UNESCO defines cultural properties under Article 1 of the 1954 Hague Convention (Convention for the Protection of Cultural Property in the Event of Armed Conflict). The worst damage was found to be in Donetsk region, now declared annexed by Russia, with 59 damaged sites.
Since launching its invasion of Ukraine in February, the Kremlin has been using the rhetoric of "denazification" to justify its war of aggression. It now appears to be updating its nomenclature. Aleksey Pavlov, assistant secretary of the Security Council of the Russian Federation, told state news agency RIA Novosti Oct. 25 that Ukraine has become a "totalitarian hypersect" where citizens have abandoned Orthodox Christian values. He added that the "desatanization" of Ukraine should be a goal of the "special military operation." Pavlov also favorably quoted Chechen leader Ramzan Kadyrov as calling for the "complete de-shaitanization" of Ukraine. (Pravda)