US National Security Adviser Jake Sullivan met in Jerusalem Jan. 18 with President Isaac Herzog, signaling continued US support for Israel's new far-right government—despite the Biden administration's supposed opposition to its policies such as settlement expansion and annexation of the West Bank. The trip coincided with Israel's eviction of a wildcat settler outpost in what Israeli authorities call the "Samaria" region of the West Bank.
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.
Legendary transportation activist George Bliss will be presenting a slideshow and hosting a discussion of his 1991 trip to China at the Museum of Reclaimed Urban Space (MoRUS) in New York City on Friday Dec. 9.
What would NYC be like if we got rid of cars and everybody rode bikes? In 1991, filmmaker Ted White and bicycle researcher George Bliss visited Guangzhou, China (then pop. six million). Only one in a thousand owned cars. Chinese-produced bikes cost about $50. There was no theft because cheap attended bike-parking was everywhere. Riding en masse was fun, and traffic flowed safely and efficiently with almost no red lights. The term "critical mass"—first applied to this phenomenon by Bliss in White's film Return of the Scorcher—soon became a rallying cry in the global bike movement.
In Brazil's Oct. 2 general elections, five self-identified indigenous candidates won seats as federal deputies and two as senators—the highest number in the country's history. The most celebrated victory was that of Sônia Guajajara, a leader of her own Guajajara people in Maranhão state who has emerged as a voice for indigenous peoples on the national stage, and now takes a seat as deputy. But this new "Bancada do Cocar" (Feathered Headdress Caucus) will face tough odds in a generally more conservative National Congress. More seats were won by supporters of the reactionary outgoing president Jair Bolsonaro, and especially the Bancada Rural (Rural Caucus, dominated by the agribusiness lobby), in both the lower and upper houses. (Mongabay)
In Episode 142 of the CounterVortex podcast, Bill Weinberg takes on the ugly backlash against bicyclists in New York City, which has escalated from petitioning against bike lanes to dangerous anti-bicycle vigilantism. The recent killing of Chelsea resident Gavin Lee by a hit-and-run bicyclist became a rallying point for the anti-bike partisans. But 255 New Yorkers were killed by motorists last year, their names quickly forgotten by all but their loved ones. The killing of young bicycle messenger Robyn Hightman by a truck driver in 2019 briefly sparked protests. But the names of most victims of automotive terror quickly go down the media Memory Hole. Weinberg recounts some of the recent lives claimed by motorists in the city: Be Tran, Carling Mott, Christian Catalan, Lynn Christopher, Karina Larino, Eric Salitsky, Raife Milligan. It is the auto-centric system that pits pedestrians and bicyclists against each other. What is needed is the dismantling of this system, and its replacement with one that centers human beings and human-powered transport—as is already underway in several European cities. Listen on SoundCloud or via Patreon.
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."
Ukrainian prosecutor general Iryna Venediktova announced May 14 that her office is preparing war crimes cases against 41 suspects, on charges including "the bombing of civilian infrastructure, the killing of civilians, rape and looting." Venediktova has said that her office is investigating more than 10,700 potential war crimes involving more than 600 suspects.
Rights groups in Malaysia are calling for the release of thousands of detained refugees and asylum-seekers, after a deadly incident in the northern state of Penang April 20. Six Rohingya refugees were reportedly struck by vehicles and killed when hundreds fled a detention center after breaking through barriers and attempted to escape across an adjacent highway.