Ukraine

Podcast: whither Khazaria?

In Episode 123 of the CounterVortex podcast, Bill Weinberg discusses the history of Khazaria, the medieval Turko-Jewish empire in what is now southern Russia and eastern Ukraine. While the fate of the mysterious Khazars has won much attention from scholars—and controversy—because of what it may reveal about the origin of the Jews of Eastern Europe, this question also touches on the origins of the Ukrainian people and state. Whatever the validity of the "Khazar Thesis" about the ethnogenesis of the Ashkenazim, it is the Ukrainian Jews—such as President Volodymyr Zelensky—who are the most likely to trace a lineage of the Khazars. In 2021, Zelenksy and the Ukrainian parliament passed a law recognizing the cultural and autonomous rights of three indigenous peoples of the Russian-annexed Crimean Peninsula: the Muslim Tatars and the Jewish Krymchaks and Karaites. Of any Jews on Earth, it is these last two groups that have the best claim to the Khazar inheritance—and are now a part of the struggle for a free and multicultural Ukraine, in repudiation of the Russian neo-imperialist project. Listen on SoundCloud or via Patreon.

Russian 'denazification' goes full Nazi

Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov, just days after issuing blatant nuclear threats, now engages in the classic anti-Semitic trope of blaming Nazism on the Jews. Speaking to Italian TV, Lavrov responded to a reminder that Ukraine's President Volodymyr Zelensky is Jewish thusly: "When they say 'What sort of nazification is this if we are Jews,' well I think that Hitler also had Jewish origins, so it means nothing. For a long time now we've been hearing the wise Jewish people say that the biggest anti-Semites are the Jews themselves." 

Podcast: Chernobyl and nuclear fear in Ukraine

In Episode 121 of the CounterVortex podcast, Bill Weinberg notes the grim irony that on the week of International Chernobyl Disaster Remembrance Day, Russian regime and state media figures issued blatant threats to use nuclear weapons in the Ukraine war. This follows criminal recklessness by Russian forces at the Chernobyl and Zaporizhzhya nuclear plants, which itself constituted an escalation on the ladder of nuclear terror. These events clearly illustrate how nuclear power and weapons constitute a single unified threat. Weinberg continues his deconstruction of the industry propaganda about how the "no safe dose" dictum is now obsolete (no, it isn't, actually), and sophistries such as the "Banana Equivalent Dose."  Amid the relentless efforts to revive the nuclear industry in the US, China is undertaking a major thrust of nuclear development, with similar plans afoot in France. And this as economies are increasingly based on energy-intensive and socially oppressive activities like "crypto-mining." Nonetheless, respected environmentalists such as acclaimed climate scientist James Hansen and Charles Komanoff of the Carbon Tax Center now advocate a continuance of reliance on nuclear power as an alternative to fossil fuels. This false choice is predicated on the continuance of dystopian "normality"—exactly what needs to be challenged. Listen on SoundCloud or via Patreon.

Transnistria blasts signal spread of Ukraine war

A series of blasts tore through the building of the de facto "Ministry of State Security" in Tiraspol, capital of Moldova's separatist-controlled enclave of Transnistria, on April 25. Officials said the building was fired on by unknown assailants with grenade launchers. Video footage showed windows and doors blown out, although there were no reports of casualties. (Reuters) Ominously, the attack comes one day after a Russian military commander openly broached extending Moscow's war in Ukraine to neighboring Moldova.

Protests over fuel price hikes shake Mauritius

The African island nation of Mauritius exploded into angry protests April 22, with residents of poor Kreol communities erecting roadblocks and fighting the police. The island had seen days of peaceful demonstrations over a sudden and drastic increase of petrol and gas prices, centered on the town of Camp-Levieux. Things turned violent after the arrest of "Darren," a young protest leader, on charges of "participation in illegal demonstrations." The police headquarters where he was being held was besieged, and protests spread quickly to other towns across the island. Police deployed anti-riot units and armored vehicles against youth hurling stones and Molotov cocktails. Things calmed the following day when Darren was released on bail. But it remains to be seen if the increasingly debt-burdened government can strike a deal with the newly mobilized popular movement. (Jurist)

Podcast: against Chomsky's genocide complicity

In Episode 120 of the CounterVortex podcast, Bill Weinberg invites the enmity of his comrades on the left with a long-overdue deconstruction of the increasingly sinister, genocide-abetting politics of Noam Chomsky. In relentless sycophantic interviews, Chomsky inevitably opposes a no-fly zone for Ukraine, war crimes charges against Putin, or even sanctions against Russia, on the grounds that such moves would lead to nuclear war. He offers no acknowledgment of how capitulating to Putin's nuclear threats incentivizes such threats, and the stockpiling of the missiles and warheads to back them up. This is part of a long pattern with Chomsky. He has repeatedly engaged in ugly and baseless "false flag" theorizing about the Syria chemical attacks, leading activists in the Arab world to accuse him of "regime whitewashing." He similarly abetted Bosnia genocide revisionism and (especially through his collaborations with the late Edward Herman) denial of the genocides in Rwanda and Cambodia. All this can be traced to the analytical and ultimately moral and intellectual distortions of the so-called "Chomsky rule"—the notion that we are only allowed to criticize crimes committed by "our" side. An illustrative irony is that Chomsky will cynically exploit the suffering of the Palestinians to distract from and relativize the oppression of Uyghurs in China, yet his stance on Palestine is actually timid and cowardly—clinging to a "two-state solution," and opposing BDS as a form of pressure on Israel. Listen on SoundCloud or via Patreon.

Middle East: 'peak wheat' fears amid deep drought

Facing long lines and bread shortages, Lebanon's government has been forced to give private importers $15 million to bring more wheat into the country. But it's a short-term fix for a government that is broke and waiting for the IMF to approve a bailout deal. And nations across the Middle East may be looking for similar solutions as they struggle with the fallout from Russia's invasion of Ukraine—both countries are key wheat producers, and exports are effectively cut off by the war. Oxfam is warning that wheat reserves could run out within weeks in the Occupied Palestinian Territories. Mercy Corps reports that food prices are up in rebel-held northwest Syria, where food security was already a major concern. Last month Egypt put a cap on unsubsidized bread prices before they could get too high. Yemen, which imports the vast majority of its food, is of particular concern as it already has so many hungry people and is heavily dependent on Ukrainian wheat. Last week, UNICEF said that "the number of malnourished children [in the region] is likely to drastically increase."

Ukraine formally accuses Russia of 'genocide'

Ukraine's parliament, the Verkhovna Rada, adopted a resolution April 14 formally recognizing the actions of the Russian armed forces in the country as genocide of the Ukrainian people. Said the MPs in a statement upon passage of the resolution: "The actions committed by the Russian armed forces are not just a crime of aggression, but pursue the goal of systematic...destruction of the Ukrainian people, their identity, and deprivation of their right to self-determination... This requires immediate recognition of the actions committed by the Russian armed forces during the last phase of the Russian armed aggression against Ukraine, which started on February 24, 2022, with the genocide of the Ukrainian people."

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